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JD, University of San Francisco School of Law
Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government
BA, California State University, Stanislaus
Did You Know
BART v. BART POA (2014) – Represented BART Police Department as first-chair in a final and binding arbitration proceeding that spanned seven months. Successfully upheld the termination of a police officer who had been terminated by the police chief after the police officer was shown to have exhibited excessive use of force that led to the death of a BART rider.
BART v. BART POA (2013) – Represented BART Police Department as first-chair in a final and binding arbitration proceeding. Successfully upheld the termination of a police officer who had been terminated by the police chief after it was discovered he had been drinking while on duty, had recreationally used drugs with a neighbor, and was subsequently accused of rape by the neighbor the same evening he used drugs with her.
Harris v. City of Santa Monica (2013) – Prepared an amicus brief on behalf of the League of California Cities and the CA State Association of Counties in support of the City of Santa Monica in Harris v. City of Santa Monica in which the California Supreme Court agreed with the City and our position that an employee claiming discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) has the burden to prove that discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic was a substantial motivating factor for an adverse employment action as opposed to “a motivating factor.” In addition, if the employer proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it would have made the same employment decision in the absence of any discrimination, the employee is not entitled to receive damages, but may be entitled to other relief, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.
Dennis Wallace v. County of Stanislaus (2016) – Represented the County in the appeal of the 2013 verdict in favor of the County after jury trial #2. The verdict and judgment entered in the County’s favor in 2013 after jury trial #2 were successfully upheld on appeal.
Daniel Cortazzo v. City of Santa Clara et al. (2021) – Represented the City of Santa Clara and secured a dismissal with prejudice prior to any fact discovery taking place. Plaintiff Cortazzo claimed that he was entitled to back pay and an adjustment to his level of “final compensation” for purposes of calculating his pension benefits with CalPERS. Plaintiff’s claim was based upon the City entering a new labor agreement with the firefighter employee organization after his retirement. The City’s position on demurrer was that the claim for declaratory relief was defunct for three reasons: Plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies with the CalPERS Board of Administration prior to filing suit; Plaintiff failed to follow the pre-litigation claims procedure of the Government Claims Act; and the nature of the claim was to correct a past wrong, rendering it unsuitable for declaratory relief. The court sustained the City’s demurrer on the first and third positions, and declined to address the Government Claims Act position. The court granted Plaintiff Cortazzo leave to amend the complaint, but the nature of the successful arguments on demurrer ultimately made further amendment futile, and caused the Plaintiff to dismiss the case entirely.
James Arkens v. County of Sutter et. al. (2016) – Represented County of Sutter in employment law litigation brought by former CAO of the County and won a motion to dismiss, with prejudice, on all causes of action pled by Arkens. Arkens alleged wrongful discharge, defamation, age discrimination, and retaliation. The court dismissed the complaint, with prejudice, for failure to allege facts sufficient to sustain any cause of action against the County or the individual defendants, who were elected officials.
Douglas Maner v. County of Stanislaus, Birgit Fladager (2016) – Represented the County of Stanislaus and District Attorney Birgit Fladager and secured complete summary judgment after two motions were brought by each defendant. The County and Fladager had conducted investigations against Plaintiff Maner after receiving complaints of misconduct from judges, law enforcement, victims’ next of kin, and co-workers. In 2006, Fladager was elected district attorney, and Maner had supported the opposition candidate. In 2013, he resigned his employment, claiming his work conditions were so intolerable because he had not supported Fladager in the election in 2006, that he was forced to resign. Defendants claimed all of the employment actions taken against Maner were non-retaliatory and a result of his bad behavior in the workplace. The court entered summary judgment in favor of the County and Fladager, finding that Maner had failed to show that the actions taken against him were based on his support of an opposition candidate in an election.
Mark James et. al. v. City of Santa Clara (2016) – Represented the City of Santa Clara and secured complete summary judgment on behalf of the City after three motions were brought against each plaintiff. The City had instituted numerous cost-cutting measures to avoid a fiscal crisis, including layoffs. Plaintiffs, all over 40, were laid off and claimed the City’s RIF Plan had a disparate impact on older workers, and that these 3 plaintiffs were subjected to disparate treatment because of their age. City’s position was that the layoffs were part of an age-neutral decision, the City was immune from suit for any actions related to the layoffs, and that the three plaintiffs failed to show that City’s legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for the layoffs were a pretext.
SEIU v. County of Mendocino (2016) – Represented the County in a bench trial and secured a judgment on the claims before the court wherein SEIU alleged that the County had illegally contracted out for mental health services with private providers. The court found that the County was legally authorized to contract out with private providers for mental health services in an attempt to provide such services to a vulnerable sector of the community, and denied SEIU’s request for a writ of mandate and injunctive relief.
Theresa Gunter v. County of Stanislaus (2015) – Plaintiff claimed she was discriminated and retaliated against for exercising FMLA leave and on the basis of her disability. As a result of the strong defense waged by counsel for the County, the case settled for a confidential, nuisance value amount about two weeks before trial.
Dennis Wallace v. Stanislaus County, Jury Trial #2 (2013) – Represented the County in a 4-week long jury trial and obtained a unanimous defense verdict on both claims before the jury: failure to accommodate a disability and failure to engage in the interactive process. Deputy Wallace, who had filed 15 workers’ compensation claims while on duty, had a list of physical restrictions that were established by his doctor, and as a result was re-assigned to “light duty” as a bailiff. Wallace refused the re-assignment, and after saying that he did not agree with doctor’s restrictions, asked for a different assignment. When his request was denied, he sued the County.
Lydia Lopez v. County of Stanislaus, Sheriff’s Department, and Bill Pooley (2010) – This was a five-week-long superior court jury trial. The case originally involved seventeen causes of action. After successfully defending most of the claims prior to trial, four causes of action went to the jury: sexual harassment, failure to engage in the interactive process (disability discrimination), failure to engage in the interactive process (disability discrimination) and retaliation. A majority of jurors found in favor of the County of Stanislaus on all causes of action. The first cause of action for sexual harassment was 9-3 in favor of the County and Pooley; the second cause of action for retaliation was 10-2 in favor of the County; the third cause of action for failure to provide reasonable accommodation was 10-2 in favor of the County; and the fourth cause of action for failure to engage in the interactive process was 11-1 in favor of the County.
Former Belmont-San Carlos Fire District – Dissolution.
County of Monterey – Nurses Unit, all Attorney Units, Safety Units, Miscellaneous Units.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Protection District – Safety Unit.
City of Vallejo – Safety and Non Safety Units, leading up to the filing of bankruptcy.
In 2013, the Harvard Business Review posited that rudeness in the workplace was “rampant” and “on the rise.” Now, two years into the COVID-19 pandemic and in the midst of widespread political polarization, the workplace of 2013 seems downright quaint in comparison.
People have always disagreed...
LCW Partners Mark Meyerhoff, Morin Jacob and Associate Paul Knothe penned “Free Speech in the Age of Facebook” for the July/August 2021 issue of Sheriff & Deputy Magazine. In the piece, the attorneys address the importance of developing and enacting updated agency social media policies that...
In 2006, activist Tarana Burke wrote of her experience in which she felt that she failed a young girl who reported a sexual assault to her. Burke did not feel prepared to assist the girl, and sent her to see another counselor. Burke regretted not telling the girl, “me too.”
Eleven years later, in...