Kimberly Blough 6:28 p.m., March 9
Retrial ordered in $1.5 million Oceanside sexual harassment case
Oceanside city officials are celebrating the news that a $1.5 million verdict awarded by a jury against the municipality has been vacated and a new trial granted in matters concerning sexual harassment charges brought by a San Diego County employee responsible for drawing blood samples in DUI cases against an Oceanside police officer.
Kimberli Hirst claimed in court that she had been repeatedly harassed by officer Gil Garcia beginning in 2008, though Garcia’s lawyer countered that what occurred was “more of a consensual, back and forth sexual banter between the two.”
Hirst, and the jury hearing her case, disagreed. The City, however, countered that it had taken appropriate action when confronted with her complaints, first placing Garcia on administrative leave in October 2009 and firing him the following month.
“After reviewing and weighing all of the evidence produced throughout the three week trial, the Court found that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive and were not supported by the evidence,” says an official City release, noting that the jury incorrectly awarded damages to Hirst for emotional distress suffered during the trial process, among other legal inconsistencies.
City officials also contest Hirst’s right to use under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, as she was an employee of the County and not the City. A retrial date has not yet been set.
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