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Settlement Reached In Federal Lawsuit Against The City Of Nashville

The federal suit filed against the city of Nashville versus a former Nashville police officer and current city councilman has reached a settlement, according to online court records.

Judge Mark A. Beatty entered on Thursday, Dec. 5, that while “the above-captioned action is settled in its entirety,” both the city and the plaintiff, Gregory Hopfinger, need additional time to finalize the settlement. Beatty directed that in 60 days, a judgment will be entered.

The amount in the settlement is not currently known at this time.

Each party is to bear its own costs unless it is stated otherwise in the settlement documents.

Gregory Hopfinger filed a federal suit in February 2018 where he claims his firing from the Nashville Police Department was based after relaying his concerns about Fletcher to then Mayor Raymond Kolweier and council members Josh Fark and Erik Rolf, who is now the mayor of Nashville.

The original suit said the concerns included falsified state firearms qualifications records, not paying bills and causing the city to be placed in collection, misappropriating donated funds, not reporting a drunk officer who had passed out in the McDonald’s drive through into the LAWMAN system, failing to report a high school student who was robbed at gunpoint, not paying overtime hours and payment of overtime hours not worked, assigning officers to assist him in moving furniture instead of manning the elementary school crosswalk and attempting to get a ticket dropped for a friend.

Greg Hopfinger was notified of his termination in writing in August 2017.

A federal court has also dismissed with prejudice one count in another former Nashville employee’s lawsuit against the city and Police Chief Brian Fletcher.

According to documents filed on December 2, Judge Nancy J. Rosenstengel granted the dismissal of the section of the suit that was based on First Amendment grounds.

In the lawsuit, Melissa Hopfinger had asserted that her firing was based on her marital association retaliation claim. Her husband Greg Hopfinger had been fired on Aug. 22, 2017. She had argued that her firing was separate from her FMLA claims and was in violation of First Amendment rights because it was about speaking out about matters of public concern.

In the motion to dismiss, it was argued that the suit was not a First Amendment claim because the “shock the conscience” standard does not apply. Judge Rosenstengel agreed that the standard was not applicable because “the right to due process is violated when a state actor abuses his office to directly and substantially interfere with a liberty interest, and the nature of the interferences ‘shocks the conscience.’”

Melissa Hopfinger filed a federal lawsuit in August 2018, alleging that her termination was in violation of the Illinois Whistleblowers Act. The suit also states that the city had violated terms protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act, after she recovered from a hysterectomy in August 2017. Hopfinger said she had been working from home while she was recovering and was terminated the day after she returned.

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