Jury awards former West Palm Beach officer, fired on PTSD rumors, $880,000
Palm Beach Post
By Jane Musgrave
August 30, 2013
WEST PALM BEACH — For three years, Matthew Ladd insisted that his military service in Iraq and Afghanistan shouldn’t have disqualified him from the ranks of the city’s police force.
Late Friday, a Palm Beach County jury agreed, ordering West Palm Beach to pay the 28-year-old Army veteran $880,000 for firing him on the basis of rumors that he had post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m stunned,” Ladd said shortly after the verdict was announced. “I’ve just been so stressed out about this case. Finally, I can get some sleep. My wife can get some sleep.”
His attorney Sid Garcia said Ladd was the victim of “malicious gossips” who lied about the trauma the rookie officer suffered while serving in the Middle East. They ultimately persuaded then-Police Chief Delsa Bush that Ladd was a danger to himself and others even though a psychiatrist who examined the rookie officer at the request of police brass found no evidence of mental distress and declared him fit for duty.
“Former Chief Bush did not take time to treat him like a human being,” Garcia said. Instead of believing the doctor, he said, she believed a vicious memo a sergeant wrote, claiming Ladd was mentally ill.
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