OF JUDGMENT: 12/10/2015
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT HON. LAWRENCE
PAUL BOURGEOIS JR. TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: ANDREW AUSTIN CLARK RUSSELL S. GILL
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: GERALD HENRY BLESSEY TERE R. STEEL
DANIELLE BREWER JONES
GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.
Ronald Weeks appeals his termination as a police officer for
the City of Biloxi. The Biloxi Civil Service Commission found
that the City acted in good faith when it terminated Weeks
for cause. Weeks appealed the decision to the Harrison County
Circuit Court, which affirmed the Commission's judgment.
It is from this judgment that Weeks now appeals. We find no
error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Weeks was employed as a police officer with the City of
Biloxi from April 29, 1991, until he was terminated on
October 31, 2007.
Weeks's termination stemmed from the events that occurred
shortly after his shift began on June 6, 2007. Immediately
after the shift briefing, Weeks learned that his close friend
had attempted suicide and was at Biloxi Regional Medical
Center. Lieutenant Andrew Balius and Sergeant Michael
Brumley, the shift supervisors, gave Weeks permission to
leave work and go check on his friend's condition. While
responding to an unrelated call at the hospital, Lt. Balius
observed Weeks crying.
While Weeks was at the hospital, the dispatch center received
several calls for service. Weeks was needed in his patrol
area. After Weeks remained at the hospital for approximately
two hours, Sgt. Brumley radioed and asked him to return to
work. Weeks did not immediately return. Instead, he remained
at the hospital, where he met with medical staff and
discussed possible commitment to a psychiatric institution.
Sgt. Brumley, the evening-shift patrol sergeant, went to the
hospital and instructed Weeks to return to the police station
Once he returned to the station, Sgt. Brumley met with Weeks
to discuss the amount of time that Weeks had spent at the
hospital. Sgt. Brumley was alarmed by Weeks's behavior
during the meeting. He drafted a narrative of the encounter.
According to the narrative, Weeks had been visibly upset and
emotional. Sgt. Brumley characterized Weeks's behavior as
an "emotional tirade, " which he described as a
range of mood swings that occurred in a short period of time.
At one point during the meeting, Weeks became angry and
blamed the doctors for his friend's bipolar diagnosis.
Weeks also blamed a police investigator for his friend's
Sgt. Brumley further noted that Weeks's demeanor changed
from offensive to an aggressive body posture. He testified
that Weeks's tone had been angry and escalated at times.
He also testified that Weeks cried and used profanity when he
discussed his anger toward a fellow officer. Sgt. Brumley
noted Weeks's explanation that he had "white knight
syndrome" and always wanted to help people.
According to Sgt. Brumley, Weeks had been too emotionally
distraught to return to work. He did not believe that Weeks
could put his friend's suicide attempt aside and focus on
the job as he patrolled the streets. Sgt. Brumley testified
that he had never seen an officer behave so emotionally. The
behavior caused Sgt. Brumley to question Weeks's fitness
for duty. Sgt. Brumley was especially concerned that Weeks
was not a relative, yet he discussed the patient's
medical information. According to Sgt. Brumley, police
officers are not permitted to discuss confidential
information regarding patients. Sgt. Brumley was also alarmed
that Weeks blamed the police department's investigation
for his friend's suicide attempt. Sgt. Brumley testified
that he felt that Weeks's relationship with his friend
coupled with his mental state could cause a liability issue
for the City. As a result of Sgt. Brumley's concerns,
Weeks was sent home for the remainder of the day and
instructed not to return to the hospital in his uniform. Sgt.
Brumley's documentation was forwarded up the chain of
Assistant Chief Rodney McGilvary and the director of the
Biloxi Police Department, Bruce Dunagan, received the
documentation. Asst. Chief McGilvary and Director Dunagan
conducted a review of Weeks's personnel file. They
determined that Weeks's recent behavior, coupled with
numerous complaints made against him, raised "red
flags." The personnel file contained at least five
complaints made against Weeks between November 1996 and April
2007. In each instance Weeks had been accused of exhibiting
poor judgment when dealing with women. For his behavior,
Weeks had received disciplinary actions including verbal
counseling, three no-contact orders against him, a five-day
suspension, and demotion from sergeant to patrol.
Asst. Chief McGilvary testified that all of the complaints
against Weeks had been made by women. He also testified that
a prior fitness-for-duty evaluation indicated that Weeks had
moved from a low risk to a moderate risk for possible
employment problems. The previous evaluation also concluded
that without intervention Weeks would likely advance to a
Asst. Chief McGilvary and Director Dunagan then found it
necessary to request a psychological evaluation to ascertain
Weeks's continued fitness for duty. Director Dunagan
consulted human resources for assistance with the matter.
Director Dunagan testified that he met with Biloxi Mayor A.J.
Holloway and briefed him about Weeks's situation. Mayor
Holloway approved Director Dunagan's request to send
Weeks for a fitness-for-duty examination.
Weeks was notified that he would undergo a fitness-for-duty
exam on June 12, 2007. Dr. Julie Teaters, clinical
psychologist, concluded that Weeks was unfit for duty as a
police officer. The psychological-fitness-for-duty report
Mr. Weeks appears to have a behavior pattern that involves
his actions with women at work as well as away from work. The
recent incident in April suggests that he has not changed his
behavior toward women that was noted in previous complaints.
His actions in June also raise concerns that he violated a
hospital patient's privacy regarding the status of her
health. Both of the incidents suggest the abuse of his
position of power as a police officer. . . . Mr. Weeks does
appear to have a continuing problem with his judgment. It is
reasonable that this problem will continue to lead to his
inability to perform his essential job functions. Based on
his long history of poor judgment (particularly involving
women) it is felt that Mr. Weeks is NOT FIT FOR DUTY. Due to
the lengthy history of repeated poor judgment it is felt that
further efforts to correct his problem are likely to be
In a letter, dated June 19, 2007, Director Dunagan informed
Weeks that Dr. Teater found him unfit for duty. Consequently,
Weeks remained on paid administrative leave from work.
Director Dunagan requested that Weeks provide Dr. Teater with
psychological and/or psychiatric records from his primary
treatment provider. In response to this request, Weeks's
primary-care physician, Dr. W.R. Fellows, submitted a letter
to human resources. Dr. Fellows noted that Weeks's
medical problems had been treated with medication and were
under control. Dr. Fellows further opined that nothing in the
health of Weeks prevented him from fulfilling his duties as a
Biloxi police officer.
After a review of Dr. Fellows's records, Dr. Teater made
no changes to her previous recommendation. In an addendum,
Dr. Teater opined that Weeks appeared to have a continuing
problem with his judgment, which she predicted would lead to
an inability to perform his essential job functions. Due to
the conflict of the two opinions, Mayor Holloway requested a
third opinion. Weeks was sent to Dr. Mark Webb for a second
fitness-for-duty exam. On August 16, 2007, Dr. ...