On December 29, appellate court judges overturned a San Diego County Superior Court judge ruling that allowed a late claim to be filed by a woman who was allegedly groped by former mayor Bob Filner at a May 2013 gathering of a group of Fiesta Island dog owners.
One of the group's members, Jeri Dines, said Filner grabbed her buttocks at the event while the two posed for a photograph. According to Dines, Filner's bodyguards disregarded the alleged assault.
Nearly one year later, on May 6, 2014, as the scope of Filner's sexual harassment scandal widened, Dines, through her attorneys, filed a claim with the city's Risk Management Department.
The city denied the claim two days later, informing Dines that she had six months to petition a court to overturn the rejection.
Dines filed her lawsuit five days after the six-month deadline, on November 14. Her attorneys argued that Dines's petition was timely after taking into consideration that the city's initial rejection was mailed to her, therefore did not arrive on May 8 but several days afterward.
In April 2015, San Diego Superior Court judge Ronald Prager agreed to let Dines's petition stand. The city appealed.
Now, six months later, the appellate court has weighed in, ruling that Prager erred in allowing the extra days to make up for the time the document spent in the mail.
This from the December 29 appellate court ruling: "Because Dines filed her [petition for relief] with the trial court more than six months after [the] city denied her application for leave to file a late claim, it was untimely filed and should have been dismissed by the court. The court erred by granting her [petition]."
The appellate court is sending the case back to Superior Court so the previous decision to be vacated and the lawsuit dismissed due to a late filing.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, whose firm represents Dines, says the case is not closed.
"We believe the trial court's ruling was correct, and that we believe the Supreme Court will correct the Court of Appeal's ruling that Judge Prager committed error," Gilleon wrote in an email to the Reader.
"This business is hard enough as it is," added Gilleon. "The law that shortens the statute of limitations from two years to six months — even for scoundrel mayors who like to grope women — is unfair and should itself be overturned. The government should not be able to write laws to protect itself from malicious conduct by elected officials. It's too bad the Court of Appeal let Mayor Filner slip out on a technicality. Judge Prager was right, and we're confident the Supreme Court will agree.”