From animated video of how Bob Filner allegedly approached city employee Stacey McKenzie
Stacey McKenzie's lawsuit against former San Diego mayor Bob Filner ended on March 30, 2016. On that day, a jury determined that while Filner's groping qualified as harassment, it was not "severe or pervasive" enough to force the city and Filner to pay damages.
Days after the jury’s decision, the city attorney’s office requested that San Diego Superior Court judge Timothy Taylor force McKenzie to pay upward of $50,000 in court costs.
The quest to recoup attorney fees didn't sit well with Judge Taylor. On July 7, he ripped into the city attorney's office for trying to recover costs.
"Frankly, the city's effort to obtain a cost award against a loyal and long-time employee [32 years] does not reflect well on the judgement of the city attorney's office," Taylor wrote in a tentative ruling expected to be made final on July 8.
Taylor ruled that each party will pay its own costs.
The jury's decision to not grant McKenzie damages closed the chapter on two years' worth of sexual harassment lawsuits, high-dollar settlements, and even a tell-all book that came after allegations against the former congressman and mayor surfaced in 2013. In all, the city paid $1.1 million in settlements — more, when factoring in attorneys' fees and the time that deputy city attorneys spent defending the city.
In McKenzie’s case, her run-in with Filner occurred during a “Clairemont Days” event at De Anza Cove in April 2013. On that day, Filner allegedly approached McKenzie and asked her for a date. Later that day the mayor allegedly put his arm around her neck from behind and rested his elbow on her breasts. He said, according to court documents, that he “likes to get really close to my city employees.”
A few months later, women began to come forward with similar accusations and McKenzie filed her lawsuit, seeking damages.
According to court documents, the city had offered to settle out of court with McKenzie in 2013 for $7001 in addition to paying for “reasonable attorney’s fees.” McKenzie rejected the offer.
Her decision to do so, according to subsequent court documents, prompted the city to try and recover court costs. Among the costs: $23,000 for witness fees and transcription services, $1055 for filing fees, $2079 for jury costs, $2900 for preparation of trial exhibits, and $6400 for mediation costs and additional transcripts.
But, according to Taylor, instead of bilking McKenzie for fees, the city should have been appreciative that she and other women brought the issue to light.
Added Taylor, "Rather than punishing her with a cost judgement (which she could not possibly pay based on the testimony the court heard during trial), the city should actually thank [emphasis his] plaintiff for helping to bring to light the former mayor's unseemly and career-ending conduct."