• Phil Griffis

Coppedge v. NASA Lawsuit-Complete Victory for NASA in Round One

The judge in David Coppedge’s suit against the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and CalTech has signed and entered his detailed Statement of Decision, which sets forth the reasons he has decided against Mr. Coppedge and in favor of JPL.

As reported in previous entries on this blog, Coppedge was employed as a System’s Administrator at JPL. His suit claims that he was the victim of discrimination and adverse employment actions as the result of his alleged on the job discussions of Intelligent Design (“ID”). The parties agreed to waive a jury and have the judge both listen to the evidence and decide the case. The judge informed the parties of his belief that Coppedge was not dismissed because of his promotion of ID, but because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp.  The judge ordered JPL to prepare a proposed Statement of Decision, which it did. Mr. Coppedge then filed lengthy objections to the proposed ruling. The judge overruled all of his objections and signed/adopted JPL’s Statement of Decision as his own.

The 55 page proposed decision (which the judge adopted as his own) can be read in its entirety here. The Statement goes deep into the weeds and sets forth an enormous amount of detail about background and case testimony.  

It concludes by stating that Coppedge failed to prove that Caltech discriminated against him, and also failed to prove that any action taken against him (including his layoff) was taken because of his religious beliefs. Caltech, on the other hand, proved that it “had legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for all actions taken”.  It also found that Coppedge failed to prove that Caltech in any way discriminated against him or wrongfully demoted him.

So the judge adopted JPL and CalTech’s position, lock, stock and barrel. This was a complete and total vindication of JPL. The question now is whether Mr. Coppedge will appeal.



Phil Griffis obtained his first jury verdict in 1990, when he convinced a jury that a customer’s fall at his client’s store did not cause the customer’s aspiration pneumonia and stroke. In the years since he has continued to win in courtrooms across the State of Texas.


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