A city news release states the lawsuit is based on Jones' claims that the city rescinded a $412,000 severance package to him in 2020 because he is Black.
However, the release claims Jones' lawyer admitted several times in court that there is no evidence of damages and was expecting a "nominal damages election" of $1 if liability was found.
In response to the March 2 award for damages, city leaders have instructed George Hyde, Hutto's litigation attorney, to seek a court order to reverse the jury's decision, according to the release.
“We are disappointed in the jury’s erroneous verdict and excessive award,” Hyde said in the release. “There is absolutely no evidence that this case was ever about race. We are actively pursuing all means to get this corrected and cleared.”
The release states if the court decides new evidence exists to support a finding of liability, the city will ask to reduce the award to $1.
Jones served as city manager from 2016 until he resigned in 2019. Following his resignation, Jones expected to receive the $412,000 severance package in addition to a $105,000 consulting agreement for his role in an $800 million development deal to bring sports entertainment company Perfect Game to the city.
The company ended up backing out and in 2021 announced a move to Cedar Park instead.
Jones was a key figure in a series of lawsuits in summer 2019 between the city of Hutto and original Perfect Game master developer Wolverine Interests, LLC. After the city filed suit against Wolverine for breach of contract, the developer countersued, claiming “[Hutto City Manager] Odis Jones’ myopic actions jeopardize the entire project and could cost Hutto billions, as his misguided actions may cause Perfect Game to look elsewhere for a venue for its flagship project.”
Hutto representatives were not available for comment on this story as of publication of this article. Community Impact will update this story as details are forthcoming.