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JD, Loyola Marymount University School of Law
BA, University of California, Los Angeles
Did You Know
Peace Officer Termination Appeal (2022) – Defeated a police corporal’s appeal of his termination from employment. The male corporal had a long-term, off-duty affair with a female corporal. He was terminated due to threats of violence and harassment toward the female corporal and a deputy. The male corporal alleged his termination was disparate treatment because the female corporal was not also disciplined. The hearing officer found that there was no evidence of disparate treatment, and that even if there was, the threats were properly punishable by termination of employment.
Shouse v. County of Riverside (2022) [84 Cal.App.5th 1080] – The Sheriff terminated this Captain for improper sexual relationships with subordinates, misappropriating county equipment and electronic mail for his personal use, and insubordination. The Captain appealed his termination and filed a petition for writ in the superior court to seek review of his dismissal. On appeal of the denial of his petition for writ, the Captain alleged that the Sheriff’s Department violated his POBR rights by failing to complete its internal investigation within one year of the discovery of his improper conduct. He alleged that the chief should have known of his improper conduct earlier because his sexual relationships with subordinates were the subject of the Department’s rumor mill. Jennifer convinced the California Court of Appeal to hold that the POBR statute of limitations does not begin based on mere rumors, but only after a department determines that actionable misconduct occurred.
A. v. City of Desert Hot Springs (2015) – Successfully handled a case where a criminal defendant filed a writ of mandate seeking the Court of Appeal conduct an independent in camera review of a City of Desert Hot Spring Police Officer’s personnel file and order disclosure of all discoverable material relating to his Pitchess motion, including investigation files. Defendant also requested that the Court of Appeal disclose any ex parte communications that the trial court Judge had with the DA and City during the in camera Pitchess and Brady proceedings. The City opposed the writ and argued that the Defendant had already obtained the limited information to which he was entitled i.e, the contact information of any complainants pertaining to specific allegations of misconduct subject to a protective order. He was not entitled to any additional documents nor to the sealed ex parte communications that the trial court Judge had with the DA and City during the in camera proceedings. After the briefing, the Court of Appeal denied Defendant’s writ petition.
Jorge Castaneda v. County Of Orange (2012) – The Court of Appeal held that former Deputy Juvenile Correctional Officer Jorge Castaneda’s only means for challenging the outcome of binding arbitration concerning his termination from employment was based on a petition pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Section 1285, also known as the California Arbitration Act. Appellant’s failure to do so was fatal to his appeal and the termination was upheld.
Kansaku v. Hermosa Beach (2012) – In this litigation, the City of Hermosa Beach prevailed in a dispute about a police officer’s right to an administrative appeal under Government Code Section 3304(b) both in the trial court by way of summary judgment and in the Appellate Court where Melanie Poturica presented the oral argument.
Jessica Jackson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2011) – Successfully defended summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Crosby v. South Orange Community College District (2009) – The Court of Appeal sustained a trial court ruling that a college could impose reasonable time, place and manner regulations on the use of internet access in a college library.
Deputy Sheriff v. County (2022) – Convinced an arbitrator to uphold the termination of a deputy sheriff. The deputy applied excessive force on a suspect who fled a vehicle during a pursuit. The deputy then lied about his actions in the investigative interview and in his report.
Public Safety Officer Termination (2021) – LCW won a termination appeal regarding a sheriff’s deputy who was confronted by a citizen while he was illegally dumping debris. When the situation escalated, the deputy threw a rock at the citizen’s car as she drove away causing approximately $1,600 in damages when the rock cracked the vehicle’s windshield and damaged its side mirror. The hearing officer did not find the deputy’s self-defense argument credible due to his actions and training as a peace officer.
Public Safety Officer Termination (2021) – Received an award upholding the termination of a former employee (Appellant) who negligently discharged a firearm during a CCW re-certification course that severely injured a civilian attending the course. The former employee argued that the civilian negligently brought the gun loaded during the firearm inspection despite being told to unload the gun before passing it off to the instructor for inspection and that the civilian was still in possession of the firearm when it discharged. Accordingly, the Appellant argued he was not responsible and should not have been disciplined. The hearing officer did not find the former employee credible, found that the former employee was in possession of the weapon when it discharged based on testimony by eye witnesses and that it was his job, not the civilians, to ensure range safety, which would include ensuring that the firearm was not loaded.
Public Safety Officer Termination (2017) – Successfully sustained the termination of a public safety officer in an arbitration involving a victim of domestic violence. Jennifer worked with the Deputy Chief who testified that the employee was terminated for her dishonesty and not any other reason. Since the Department has a zero tolerance policy for dishonesty, and given the important policy considerations of requiring honesty by law enforcement employees at all times, the hearing officer sustained the termination.
Police Officer v. City and Police Department Command Staff (2022) – Jury quickly issued a defense verdict on police officer’s 42 USC section 1983 complaint that he was retaliated against, by not receiving a special assignment, for exercising his free speech rights regarding union activities. Officer’s Fair Employment and Housing Act discrimination claim had been dismissed on a motion for summary judgment.
Police Officer Association v City of San Bernardino (2021) – Obtained a defense judgment and prevailed on a motion for judgment in a bench trial involving a breach of contract action. Plaintiff, the Police Officer’s Association (POA), claimed the City breached an MOU provision regarding how the City’s salary survey was supposed to be conducted. In granting Defendant’s motion, the Judge found that the POA did not establish a prima facie case for breach of the 2015-2020 MOU and entered judgment in favor of the City and against the POA.
Muneton, et. Al. v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2019) – LCW, led by Jennifer Rosner, represented the District against twelve former motor unit police officers claiming whistleblower retaliation and retaliation for reporting acts illegal under Education Code 44113 and the Labor Code. When the Chief of Police commissioned an audit, it revealed that the motor unit was operating at a loss due to the officers’ lack of productivity, the infighting within the unit and their resistance to supervision, and the unit was disbanded. LCW filed seven separate motions and the Court granted all seven motions, resulting in a complete dismissal.
Todd Palombo v. City of Costa Mesa (2019) – A former firefighter brought claims against the City alleging he was not promoted to Captain due to his age. A prima facie case of age discrimination arises when the employee shows (1) at the time of the adverse action he or she was 40 years of age or older (2) an adverse employment action was taken against the employee, (3) at the time of the adverse action the employee was satisfactorily performing his or her job and (4) some other circumstance suggesting a discriminatory motive was present, such as replacement by a significantly younger worker with similar qualifications. Plaintiff argued that, because the testing process gave the Fire Chief discretion to promote the applicant he felt was best qualified from an eligibility list, it allowed the Fire Chief to discriminate against Plaintiff. However, LCW demonstrated that the City had legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for promoting individuals other than Plaintiff. In fact, a majority of the candidates selected during the contested time period were over the age of 40 and outscored Plaintiff on the promotional examination. Based on the foregoing, the Judge granted Motion Summary Judgement in favor of the City.
Petitioner v. City (2019) – Prevailed on a writ of mandate under Cal. Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5 in the Ventura County Superior Court. Petitioner was a dispatcher who lied on her time card regarding the time she spent on jury duty to avoid returning to work or using personal time for the remainder of the day after various supervisors instructed her as to how to complete her time card. Petitioner argued that the City’s jury duty policy was vague and that she followed past practice. The Court sustained the termination and found that the City had good cause to terminate Petitioner for her misconduct.
Police Officer v. County of Riverside (2017) – Prevailed in termination of deputy sheriff for on-duty sexual misconduct, conduct unbecoming and dishonesty related to a call for a welfare check. The Deputy Sheriff then filed a petition for writ of mandate in the Superior Court. The Superior Court upheld the termination.
Neely Nakamura v. City of Riverside Police Department, et al. (2013) – Successfully defended the City of Riverside and seven individual defendants, from demurrer through trial and the final non-suit, in a case where a police officer alleged eight causes of action. After 2 demurrers, which resulted in the dismissal of 4 of the individual defendants and 3 causes of action, Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint alleged claims for: 1) Unlawful Search and Seizure; 2) Violation of the Public Safety Officer’s Procedural Bill of Rights; 3) False Imprisonment; 4) Conversion; and 5) Violation of 42 U.S.C. section 1983. The Court granted summary adjudication as to all of Plaintiff’s causes of action except the third cause of cause of action for false imprisonment against the City and the three individual defendants. The Court granted non-suit as to this cause of action after a nine day jury trial.
Jowski v. City of Hesperia (2012) – The Court found that the City was entitled to summary judgment against Jowski and his claims for disability discrimination and retaliation under the FEHA. Jowski was an insulin dependent diabetic. The City released Jowski after four months of probation with the City because he could not perform the essential functions of the Code Enforcement Officer position, which included communicating and interacting with members of the public. The Court found that Jowski could not demonstrate that he was performing competently in his job position or that his disability was a factor in the City’s decision to release him from probation. The Court found that the City had legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for releasing Jowski from employment.
Marvin, et al. v. Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (2011) – The Court found that HACLA was entitled to summary judgment because the 3 Plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies. In addition, the court found that Plaintiffs were unable to demonstrate that they engaged in protected activity or show a causal link between their complaints to HACLA and any adverse action taken against them by HACLA under the whistleblower retaliation statutes. Finally, the Court found that it was undisputed that the Plaintiffs were added to the list of positions, which were proposed for elimination because they were not essential to the daily operations of HACLA, and it would be more cost effective to contract out for those services. The Court found that these were legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for Plaintiffs’ layoffs.
Sellan, et al. v. Savelli, et al (2011) – On March 13, 2009, Plaintiffs Scott Kansaku, Donovan Sellan and David Bohacik filed a lawsuit against the City of Hermosa Beach, the Hermosa Beach Police Department Stephen Burrell, Gregory Savelli, Thomas Bohlin and Thomas Eckert. Plaintiffs alleged two causes of action under the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights (“POBR”) and a third cause of action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Defendants removed the lawsuit to federal court. Following motions to dismiss, the individual defendants and the third cause of action were dismissed from the lawsuit. The lawsuit was then remanded back to the Superior Court for adjudication of the remaining state law claims. On August 10, 2010, the Court granted summary judgment against Plaintiff Scott Kansaku. The Court found that Defendants did not violate Plaintiff Kansaku’s rights under the POBR.
Yevnovkian v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2010) – Successfully represented the District against a petition for writ of mandate seeking reinstatement of a teacher who resigned and retired via a supplemental retirement program.
Ramirez v. City of Hermosa Beach (2009) – Prevailed in an eight-day jury trial which involved a section 1983/First Amendment/retaliation claim brought by a police officer naming the City, the Police Chief and various members of the command staff as individual defendants. The City was dismissed from Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim prior to the jury trial. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the individual Defendants. Specifically, the jury found that the individual Defendants did not retaliate against the officer based upon his First Amendment speech and/or activities as a member of the Hermosa Beach Police Officers Association.
Jessica Jackson v. Los Angeles Unified School District (2009) – Won summary judgment in favor of the District in a case involving racial harassment, discrimination, failure to prevent and retaliation.
Our short Public Safety Video Briefings will tackle cutting-edge issues and core principles relevant to public safety employers. We hope you find these videos useful and thought-provoking.
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