Saturday June 05, 2004
THE VERDICT - ONE YEAR LATER
Verdict's appeal might take twice as long as trial
With planned appeals from both sides, there seems to be no end in sight
to the case.
By Darleene Barrientos
GLENDALE - It took more than a year to reach a verdict after a sexual-harassment
lawsuit was filed against the Glendale Police Department. Getting a
decision on an appeal of that verdict could take twice as long.
Officers Katie Frieders, Renae Kerner, Jamie Franke and Carla Haupt,
and Community Service Officer Linda Daidone, filed the original lawsuit
in 2001. It alleged that they were subjected to sexual harassment by
their supervisors, then punished and retaliated against when they rejected
romantic advances. Haupt's complaint was dismissed; Daidone settled
her claims with the city before the case went to trial in early 2003.
The trial began Feb. 5 of that year, but because several jurors called
in sick with the flu, a mistrial was declared two weeks later. Starting
over the next day, plaintiffs' and defendants' attorneys spent more
than three months questioning dozens of witnesses. Thejury deliberated
for 15 days after closing statements in mid-May. The multimillion-dollar
verdict was announced June 2, 2003. Defense attorneys filed a brief
in April of this year, protesting the judge's decision to not award
attorney fees to the defendants. Nothing has thus far been filed to
appeal the verdict, which earns 7% annual interest as it moves through
the appellate process.
Since the verdict was announced, plaintiffs' and the defense lawyers
have made several motions.
- Judge David A. Workman awarded $1.1 million in attorney fees to
the plaintiffs, which the city will pay. Plaintiffs' lawyer Brad Gage
later tried to have that amount raised to $4.1 million, according
to court officials. Workman denied that motion.
- The city was successful in reducing Franke's more than $1.3-million
award by $181,600. Franke's award was discounted to essentially reflect
what it will be worth in five years.
- Defense lawyers unsuccessfully moved for a new trial. The lawyers
claimed a new trial was necessary because of alleged juror misconduct,
jury miscalculations of the judgments, and improperly filed claims
by the plaintiffs.
- Gage also made other unsuccessful motions. Workman denied his request
that his clients' awards be raised to relieve them of their increased
tax responsibility. Another unsuccessful motion was to add another
$150,000 because the jury found that Kerner's Peace Officers Bill
of Rights had been violated.
- The Los Angeles law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
LLP is handling the city's appeal of the verdict. That appeal will
focus on issues that defense attorneys Irma Rodriguez Moisa and Sergio
Bent objected to throughout the trial, including the judge's decision
to allow evidence that was beyond the statute of limitations and permit
testimony from witnesses who said they had heard the plaintiffs were
being harassed, but did not have firsthand knowledge of such acts.
- Gage hired Woodland Hills law firm Benedon & Serlin to help
him appeal the attorney's fee award granted by the judge. Because
the number of hours defense lawyers devoted to the case was not equal
to the time the plaintiffs spent on the case, Gage believes he and
his co-counselors deserve more than the $1.1 million they were awarded.
Gage also plans to appeal the trial judge's decision to not grant
penalties for the violation of Kerner's Peace Officers Bill of Rights
and to not relieve his clients of their increased tax responsibility.
- After the city submits the court reporter's transcripts, the Court
of Appeals will issue a schedule for briefs in the verdict appeal.
The city will submit an opening brief, and Gage will submit a reply
brief. The appellate court also will schedule a day for the lawyers
to argue their sides. After that hearing, the court has 90 days to
With all the planned appeals from both defense and plaintiffs' lawyers,
there seems to be no end to the case in sight.
"We don't even have a briefing schedule yet. We are probably,
at a minimum, six months away from any decision from the Court of Appeals,"
City Atty. Scott Howard said.
"I really couldn't say [how much longer the case will take], because
there are still options [such as settlement] that are out there."