Brennan v. Norton

Robert Lloyd Herbst

Case Conclusion Date:December 5, 2003

Practice Area:Civil Rights

Outcome:Reversed and Remanded

Description:In this federal civil rights case, Firefighter William J. Brennan was awarded a substantial jury verdict against the Township of Teaneck and numerous of its employees for violating his First Amendment rights. On appeal, the defendants sought to reverse the jury's verdict, and Mr. Brennan convinced the court to send the case back to the district court to determine whether the defendants had retaliated against Mr. Brennan's rights in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act ("CEPA"), even though he had not sent a "notice of claim" to Teaneck. Filing a notice of claim is a legal prerequisite to bringing a personal injury lawsuit against the state or local government. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the District Court, concluding that CEPA is a civil rights statute, not a personal injury law. As a result, the Court held that plaintiffs do not need to send a "notice of claim" before bringing a whistleblower claim against the government under CEPA.