ACA.supremecourt.070419

The Louisiana State Police Commission's former executive director can move forward with her whistleblower lawsuit against the commission, the state Supreme Court ruled this week.

Cathy Derbonne, who resigned in 2017 and filed her lawsuit the next year, claims she was retaliated against for challenging State Police brass and calling attention to illegal campaign contributions made by three commission members who ended up stepping down.

Her lawsuit was thrown out by a Baton Rouge state judge in 2019 but reinstated in October by the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, which said she had the right to sue under Louisiana's whistleblower statute. The Supreme Court let that ruling stand Wednesday.

The State Police Commission is the civil service board for state troopers. It's members are appointed by the governor.

The commission's attorneys had argued that Derbonne, who headed the panel for eight years, isn't entitled to protection under the whistleblower statute because it doesn't apply to employees who, as part of their regular job duties, report illicit behavior.

Derbonne claims she fell out of favor with the Louisiana State Troopers Association after that group was accused of using a straw donor to give thousands of dollars to political candidates and the House Democratic Campaign Committee. The troopers association was fined $5,000 in 2017 by the state Ethics Board.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.