Former New Orleans police chief faces uphill fight in breach of contract suit against Cantrell, law professor says

By Carrie Bradon | Jan 2, 2019

Warren Riley, a former New Orleans police chief, recently filed a lawsuit against Mayor LaToya Cantrell alleging she offered him a job in her administration and later revoked the offer.

Warren Riley is suing for breach of contract and seeking $700,000 in damages in the suit filed Dec. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. 

According to a posting on, Riley was contacted in July 2017 while Cantrell was running for mayor. The candidate asked Riley if he would consider taking of the position of homeland security director for New Orleans in the event that she won the election. Riley, who was working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and living in Georgia at the time, agreed to consider the offer, after which he made several trips to New Orleans to meet with Cantrell.

Salary terms were discussed and Riley made it through the first round of interviews before he flew to New Orleans on April 16 for a third interview, the posting said. According to the lawsuit, Riley was so certain that he was receiving the job that he resigned from his position with FEMA on April 23. 

Bill Quigley, professor of law at Loyola University.   Courtesy of Bill Quigley

By May 2, however, Riley was told by Cantrell that the appointment was being put on hold and that he was not invited to an upcoming conference in which new members of the leadership team would be announced, the posting said. Finally, on May 20, Cantrell advised Riley that she would not be able to appoint him to the position.

Though the agreement was spoken about at great lengths and Riley had resigned from his place of employment, it is unlikely that he will receive the awards he is seeking in the suit, Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans, recently told the Louisiana Record.

"Mr. Riley faces quite an uphill battle in this case. Louisiana law is very employer friendly and employees have few rights," Quigley told the Louisiana Record. "Unless there is discrimination based on race, gender or disability, there are few protections for prospective employees. While it does seem like Mr. Riley certainly thought he was going to get a job, unless there is a written offer, the courts will be hard pressed to award him any significant damages."

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