Coffey v. Braddy, No. 15-11112 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 1982, the district court entered a consent decree requiring the City of Jacksonville to hire in its fire department “an equal number of blacks and whites until the ratio of black fire fighters to white fire fighters reflects the ratio of black citizens to white citizens in the City of Jacksonville.” The City stopped complying with the decree in 1992. Plaintiffs filed suit in 2007, fifteen years after the City had stop complying with the decree, seeking a motion to show cause as to why the City should not be held in contempt of the 1982 consent decree. The district court denied plaintiffs’ motion on grounds of laches, and dissolved the decree. The court concluded that, because plaintiffs’ fifteen-year delay prejudiced the City’s ability to defend itself and because a new lawsuit had taken up the cause of fighting racial discrimination in the City’s firefighting department, neither the district court’s application of laches nor its dissolution of the 1982 consent decree was an abuse of discretion. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.