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6 Investigates: Former City Attorney Suing City

Posted: 2:00 PM, Aug 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-03 15:01:37-04

A trial lawyer once praised by City leaders for his work defending taxpayers from costly lawsuits is now bringing one of his own.

Former City Attorney M. Michael Meyer is suing the City of Corpus Christi for discrimination and retaliation after being fired last summer, despite outstanding performance reviews and public praise from his own bosses as a “seasoned attorney,” who won cases the city might have otherwise paid to settle.

In Meyer’s words, he was hired to do a job the city desperately needed in the face of rising settlement costs and public pressure to trim them down.

“I was hired to save the taxpayers of the City of Corpus Christi money by aggressively defending lawsuits, and that’s what I did.”

But Meyer’s civil suit, filed in Nueces County District Court in May, accuses the city attorney’s office – and City Attorney Miles Risley – of age discrimination, wage discrimination and retaliation after a series of events in which, according to the lawsuit, Meyer refused to follow what he considered an unethical order from Risley.

Risley declined comment for this report.

But, Meyer says what Risley asked him to do – communicate to opposing counsel through a third party – could get any lawyer disbarred.  And when he refused, Risley fired him for “insubordination,” and then, fought the release of Meyer’s unemployment benefits.

But, the Texas Workforce Commission disagreed. According to Meyer’s lawsuit, the commission “found that Meyer was justified in refusing to comply with Risley’s unethical edict and found there was no just cause for Meyer’s termination.”

Meyer says the sudden move left him, “shocked, disgrunted, angry (and) hurt … I think the citizens of Corpus Christi deserve to know the truth. There is something, in my opinion, that is wrong in city hall.”

According to a report generated for 6 Investigates by the city’s human resources department, Meyer is one of five lawyers who’ve either quit – or been fired – from the city, since last July.