In response to the shocking verdict in a federal suit brought against the city by Odis Jones, former Hutto city manager, the Hutto City Council has announced City leaders will aggressively contest the multi-million-dollar award.
At issue is the City Council’s unanimous vote in December 2020 to rescind a severance agreement with Jones for $412,000. Thursday’s jury verdict in Austin included a potential award of up to $12.5 million in damages to Jones, who claims Council rescinded his severance payment because he is Black.
George Hyde, Hutto’s litigation attorney, said the matter is far from decided.
“We are disappointed in the jury’s erroneous verdict and excessive award,” Hyde said. “There is absolutely no evidence that this case was ever about race. We are actively pursuing all means to get this corrected and cleared.”
Hutto leaders have directed Hyde to seek a court order asking the trial court to reverse the jury’s decision. If the court somehow decides some new evidence exists to support a finding of liability, the City will ask the judge to reduce the award to one-dollar; Mr. Jones’ lawyer had admitted multiple times in court that Jones had no evidence of damages and was expecting a “nominal damages election” ($1), if liability was even found.
If at that point City leaders have not prevailed, the City will pursue justice through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.