A Liberty County jury took two hours late Friday night to return a verdict in favor of David Odum in his lawsuit against the Florida Department of Health and Kelly King.
Odum served as administrator of both the Calhoun and Liberty County health departments until he was terminated July 2, 2007.
Odum alleged in his complaint he was performing in an outstanding manner and believes he was fired, in part, due to his age and the fact he exercised his rights under the Family & Medical Leave Act to care for his ailing spouse. Odum further alleged he was demoted, fired and made the target of false accusations after he reported and opposed unlawful practices.
Odum alleged King, who served as business manager for both the Calhoun and Liberty health departments, harassed him by filing a false complaint against him, as well as “continuing and perpetuating a campaign of harassment and retaliation against” him, creating a “hostile environment” for him and “participating in planting false stories” about him. He further alleged King “prepared bogus spending plans for Fiscal Year 2007, showing Calhoun County’s cash-to-budget ratio dropping to well below legislative mandates, and then back again to well above that ratio, which had the effect of presenting an utterly false portrait about Plaintiff and his job performance.”
The jury filed into the courtroom at 11:07 p.m. and ruled that the Family and Medical Leave Act claim was a motivating factor in terminating Odum and also agreed DOH violated the Whistleblower’s Act, agreeing his reporting certain issues was a factor in his termination. The jury also agreed that King intentionally interfered with Odum’s employment at DOH.
The jury awarded damages for net loss and wages to the trial date at a total of $307,766.18. The jury further awarded damages for emotional pain and mental anguish totalling $300,000.