Lack of written agreement means former police chief faces struggle in suit against Cantrell, law professor says

By Carrie Bradon | Jan 28, 2019

Former New Orleans Police Chief Warren Riley recently filed suit against Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the city of New Orleans claiming breach of contract after he claims he was not given a position that was allegedly orally agreed upon.

Riley allegedly held ongoing conversations with Cantrell regarding the possibility of him becoming the city's new homeland security director, according to the suit filed in December in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, a posting in the Louisiana Record said. Riley had agreed to taking the position and he and Cantrell allegedly started verbal agreements, which involved Riley taking several trips to Louisiana to speak directly with Cantrell about the position. 

According to posting on WWLTV's website, Riley's lawsuit claims that Cantrell and he negotiated minimum salaries at one of the meetings, in which Riley claims Cantrell agreed to a minimum of $180,000 a year, with raises being discussed as well.

Riley claims that in a matter of days, Cantrell advised him that she was delaying the appointment and less than one month later she informed Riley that the appointment would not be taking place at all, according to the posting. 

William Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans who recently discussed the case with the Louisiana Record, said he believes that Riley will struggle to gain a foothold in his legal battle, mainly due to the fact that he lacks any sort of written agreement to fall back on. 

"This is going to be a very uphill battle for Mr. Riley. Why? Because, as respected law professor once told me, an oral promise is not worth the paper it is not printed on,'" Quigley said.

In his lawsuit, Riley alleges that he was left unemployed after he resigned from his position with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in order to accommodate the move for his new position in New Orleans.

Riley claims that the mayor's actions qualify as a breach of contract and he is seeking $700,000 in damages for the costs and inconvenience that he has suffered as a result.

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