Two troopers lost their jobs for escorting the sports cars, one driven by a member of the New York Giants, at speeds of 100 mph in 2012. Witnesses said the cars were weaving in and out of traffic, forcing some motorists to speed up to get out of the way.
Frank Chiofalo alleged he received an internal memo that commended one of the two troopers for “a job well done.” Chiofalo testified that when he approached a superior to ask what to do with the document, he was told it “doesn’t exist.” He claimed he was transferred and demoted after he refused to destroy the document.
After a trial, a jury awarded Chiofalo about $450,000 in combined damages related to the memo and to his separate claim that he was retaliated against because he questioned the same superior’s logging of vacation time.
The trial judge rejected the state’s argument that Chiofalo hadn’t demonstrated he had reasonably believed he’d been asked to destroy the document.
But an appeals court later vacated the monetary award, agreeing with the state’s new argument that Chiofalo, who has since retired from the state police, didn’t identify a specific law or regulation the superior’s conduct had violated.
In Tuesday’s 7-0 ruling, the Supreme Court concluded the trial court’s ruling should prevail.
“The trial court’s focus was on the facts presented, and on that basis we cannot say that the denial of summary judgment with respect to document destruction was in error,” they wrote.
Separately, the Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court’s ruling that Chiofalo’s claim regarding the alleged timesheet violations should be dismissed as not falling under whistleblower protections.
George Daggett, an attorney representing Chiofalo, said his client “is probably the most dedicated guy that ever wore a State Police uniform, and I am thrilled to be able to help him undo the retaliation.”
The state attorney general’s office, which argued on behalf of the state police, said through a spokesman that it was reviewing the ruling.