St. Louis Public Radio News
7:25 am
Tue August 26, 2008

Appeals court rules with city in firefighters' suit

St. Louis, MO. – A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the city of St. Louis in a reverse discrimination law suit brought by two white firefighters.

Michael Martinez and Eric Deeken challenged a 1976 decree requiring equal numbers of blacks and whites hired by the department. The two claimed the city had reached parity by 1998, when they were both passed over.

A lower court dissolved the decree and awarded the two firefighters damages.

The city appealed the decision and Tuesday the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the city was not liable for the retroactive damages.

Charles Bobinette is Eric Deeken's attorney.

"It is disappointing and upsetting, because Eric has been on the fire department since August of 2005, and he loves his job and has done a great job for the city of St. Louis and hopefully that won't be in jeopardy as a result of the decision," Bobinette said.

The appeals court sent the case back to the lower court over damages after the consent decree was dissolved.

Bobinette says a decision has not been made on whether to appeal.

A call to the city was not immediately returned Tuesday.