A Clark County District Court judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by Boulder City Police Chief Thomas Finn against a retired police sergeant was unlawful, and Finn must pay costs for the defense.
Finn sued retired Sgt. Daniel Jennings in November after Jennings, a former Boulder City Police Protective Association president, emailed the police union expressing his opinion that the new city manager would not retain Finn as chief.
Finn’s lawsuit, which also named police Sgt. John Chase, City Attorney Dave Olsen, City Councilman Cam Walker and local attorney Stephen Stubbs, alleged the group “acted in concert” to damage Finn’s reputation and have him removed from his position.
Court minutes show District Judge Jessie Walsh dismissed the lawsuit against Jennings on Feb. 21 and ordered Finn to pay Jennings’ attorneys’ fees of $6,380.
Walsh previously dismissed the case against Stubbs on Jan. 15 and ordered Finn to pay Stubbs $15,760.
“I feel like justice was served,” Jennings said. “I think Finn’s vendettas are starting to get expensive for him.”
Finn said he is unsure of his next step.
“I am exploring all legal options at this time,” he said in a statement.
Finn received the judge’s order on the Stubbs’ ruling Monday and has not yet received the Jennings ruling.
Stubbs and Jennings fought Finn’s lawsuit with what are called anti-SLAPP motions, contending Finn’s lawsuit was a strategic lawsuit against public participation.
Nevada law prevents SLAPP lawsuits, which are intended to intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense.
In the written order granting Stubbs’ motion, Walsh wrote, “This lawsuit is exactly the kind of lawsuit that the Nevada Legislature had in mind when it drafted Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes.”
After the Jan. 15 dismissal of the lawsuit against Stubbs, Finn voluntarily withdrew the lawsuit against all defendants. However, because Jennings had already filed his anti-SLAPP motion, the case proceeded to last week’s hearing.
State law also permits defendants to file a separate lawsuit for damages if an anti-SLAPP motion is granted. Jennings said he is not sure whether he will do so.
Stubbs, however, filed a lawsuit against Finn on Tuesday, seeking compensatory and punitive damages and additional attorneys’ fees. Stubbs said he is seeking $100,000.
Finn has been on medical leave since Jan. 16, City Manager David Fraser said. Finn said Wednesday that he has yet to be cleared by his doctor for work.
“I have been out for a serious health-related matter as ordered by my physician, and I haven’t been medically cleared to return to work,” he said.
Detective Sgt. John Glenn is temporarily in charge of the department. Finn’s future with the department is unclear. He has stated his desire to remain in his position after recent allegations of wrongdoing but has said he believes his reputation has been damaged too much for him to do so.
The City Council in November asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate allegations that Finn committed multiple felonies by ordering officers to delete public records related to a Mongols Motorcycle Club gathering in June.
An independent audit of the department is ongoing. The audit was recently completed, and the city awaits a final report, Fraser said.
The city has also requested the Henderson Police Department investigate a missing police Bushmaster rifle.
The rifle and two pairs of expensive night-vision goggles were discovered missing during an inventory shortly after the City Council’s Dec. 11 authorization of an outside audit.