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Judge admonishes city attorney's office over Filner case

"Rather than punishing her...the city should actually thank [her]."

From animated video of how Bob Filner allegedly approached city employee Stacey McKenzie
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."

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From animated video of how Bob Filner allegedly approached city employee Stacey McKenzie
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."

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Comments
9

"Frankly, the city's effort...does not reflect well on the judgement of the city attorney's office."

Kindest summary of 'Jackass Jan' Goldsmith's record in office I've ever read.

I'm sure he'll be punished by getting elected to higher office. In San Diego, we only hold back the honest and competent.

July 9, 2016

No, Goldsmith will most likely join a local law firm, at a fat salary with partner status.

July 11, 2016

Here goes judge Taylor again, with a ruling against city government. Goldy may well appeal the ruling and get it overturned. Or maybe not. Won't it be nice when we never have to hear "city attorney" and "Jan Goldsmith" in the same sentence again?

July 9, 2016

Goldsmith has stated many times that he will go after Court Fees of individuals who sue the City of San Diego. The solution to get around the bullying is to get a Non-Profit with Zero assets to sue the City of San Diego instead.

A non-profit should sue the City Attorney for his 2010 Legal Memorandum that Outlawed the Use of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) Tax Increment (TI) for Homeless Emergency Shelters and Wrap Around Social Services. This Memo is what is allowing the ongoing violations of the Civil Rights, Fair Housing, and HEARTH Act by our City against the Poor and Homeless. With the resulting death and violence that could have been avoided.

Pathetic.

July 9, 2016

But the stupid voters of San Diego kept reelecting Goldsmith. You get the government you deserve.

July 10, 2016

Well ... Yes... that's true, but Goldsmith is termed out, so the voters get another shot at it.

For the life of me I don't understand why this position within City government has been so difficult to find competent people to fill it. My guess... The past office holders from Casey Gwinn on have become more political, than legal administrators for the City. Goldsmith has been the worst, but Aguirre, well what can you say. Mike is just Mike.

Hopefully this time it will be different, but I'm not holding my breath.

July 10, 2016

Everyone needs to see the glaring inconsistency in this story. Goldy went to work as soon as Filner was elected, by his own admission, on getting Filner removed. It was sexual harassment/assault claims that brought Filner down. Her case was not one of the earliest or worst accusation, but it was one of many. So wasn't she helping the cause of getting Filner removed? Why did Goldy then oppose her claim?

The reason is that the role of city attorney includes denying claims against the city, and he was, after all, acting in his legal capacity and fulfilling the role. It's just that the whole thing was such a travesty of due process that he would likely have been grateful that she had aided his cause. Screwball to the max.

July 10, 2016

We have had whack-jobs for City Attorney for a long time -- three guys and counting. Maybe this is our chance to get it right with a woman, Mara Elliott.

July 10, 2016

Goldsmith was just a tool of the downtown Republican establishment.

July 11, 2016

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