Gov. Kim Reynolds has decided to appeal a $1.5 million discrimination verdict against the state and former Gov. Terry Branstad amid mounting legal costs.
Seven years ago, a former state official who is gay sued Branstad and the state for discrimination and retaliation. In July, a jury awarded Chris Godfrey $1.5 million, finding Branstad and a staffer discriminated against him in 2011 and then retaliated by slashing his salary.
According to court documents dated Thursday, and first reported by the Des Moines Register Friday, the state is now appealing the verdict to the Iowa Supreme Court.
“After consulting with the state’s legal team, Gov. Reynolds decided to appeal the Godfrey case,” said governor’s office spokesman Pat Garrett in a statement. “We believe the state’s arguments are strong and will succeed on appeal. Additional legal costs will be minimal and winning the appeal will save taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Private law firms have been defending the state in this case because Branstad made that decision when he was governor. The attorney general’s office typically represents the state in lawsuits.
Iowa officials approved more than $2.4 million in payments to two private law firms to defend Branstad and the state. Those costs are likely to rise as the case moves through the appeal process.
The legal team for Godfrey, led by Roxanne Conlin, asked the state for about $4 million in legal fees when the jury ruled in their favor.