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Government | Civil Rights

  • Action by parent in federal court, following state court action and appeal, alleging a county child protective agency had wrongfully removed her child by deception, fabricated evidence and fraud in violation of her constitutional due process under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The government alleged, among other defenses, that plaintiff’s claims were barred because federal courts other than the United States Supreme Court cannot sit in direct evidence of state court actions.  Resolved in mediation.

  • Action by minor through her guardian ad litem alleging that a county and its law enforcement agents violated her civil rights by using excessive force when they restrained her as a passenger in a vehicle without a front license plate.  The county alleged that plaintiff resisted arrest, and that her cell phone holder in the car’s center console resembled a firearm.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by three female inmates alleging that a county, its sheriff’s department, and a male deputy violated their civil rights when the deputy sexually harassed and assaulted the women while they were incarcerated. The defense alleged that the women had invited and consented to the deputy’s advances, and that there were flaws in plaintiffs’ theory of the case.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Appeal by a county after plaintiff, mother of a deceased newborn, won a jury verdict.  Mother alleged that  the county coroner’s office had violated a mandatory duty under statute by cremating her baby without adequate notice and prior authorization, and that county had waited too long to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, actions that caused mother serious emotional distress.  County alleged that it had not violated a mandatory duty under statute, that it had left a voice mail notice for mother about the cremation, and that mother had failed to timely pick up her voice mail.  Mother cross appealed on some of the claims not adjudicated at trial.  Her attorneys’ fee motion was pending.  Resolved in mediation.


  • Action by male student alleging officials responsible for his Title IX process at a public university violated his due process rights by deliberately pursuing, investigating, trying, and convicting him of the alleged sexual assault of a female student, when witnesses and exculpatory evidence showed no sexual assault occurred.  University officials alleged they had provided male student with an appropriate disciplinary hearing, and claimed qualified immunity.  The state trial court denied male student’s petition for writ  of administrative mandate.  In a published opinion, the state appellate court reversed and issued a remittitur in favor of male student.  A separate federal court action by male student alleging violation of constitutional due process and various torts had been stayed pending resolution of the state court proceedings.  Resolved globally through mediation.

  • Action by records technician alleging that her former employer, a municipality, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her disability; that her former supervisor harassed and retaliated against her because of her disability; and that the municipality’s contractor performing fitness for duty examinations failed to provide her with a copy of her medical report. The municipality alleged the former employee could not perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation; and the contractor alleged lack of standing and mootness. Resolved through mediation.


  • Action by emergency management coordinator alleging that her employer, a municipal fire department, and a firefighter engaged in sexual harassment, retaliation, failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment, negligent hiring, sexual battery, battery, and gender violence.  The defendants alleged the firefighter’s conduct was neither unwelcome nor severe or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by minor through his guardian ad litem alleging that a county and its law enforcement agents violated his civil rights and used excessive force when they tasered him for refusing to show what was hidden inside his hat. The county alleged that its law enforcement  agents had been called to investigate an attempted robbery involving the minor, that the minor had run away from a juvenile facility, that he had refused to cooperate with the deputies, that he had a history of attempting to use a deadly weapon, that a weapon could have been hidden in his hat, and that law enforcement followed protocol.  Case litigated for five years. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by husband and wife alleging that a county and its law enforcement agents violated their civil rights by executing a warrant without probable cause, breaking into their apartment in the night to search for a suspect unknown to them, roughly handling the husband and causing him physical injury and the couple emotional injury, and destroying their personal property. The county and law enforcement alleged the warrant was issued with probable cause, was executed in good faith and according to protocol, and the government was entitled to qualified immunity in carrying out its police powers. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by 69-year-old teacher alleging her former employer, a school district, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her age, and retaliated against her after she complained. The former employer alleged the teacher refused to accept constructive feedback on her performance, was the subject of complaints and an investigation for acting out toward students, and had elected to retire. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by professor alleging his former employer, a public university, retaliated against him following an administrative settlement of his complaint for age, race and disability discrimination. The professor claimed that the university failed to honor the terms of the settlement agreement, impeded his research and teaching opportunities, and barred him from attending professional conferences. The university alleged the professor had earlier elected to benefit from a faculty early retirement program that permitted him to both collect a pension and work part-time, an option that limited his teaching and research activities, and travel had not been authorized under the federal program that funded the professor’s work. The trial court granted summary judgment for the university. The appellate court found triable issues and overturned the trial court. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

  • Class action by 18 to 21-year-old disabled incarcerated inmates in county jails alleging failure of multiple state, regional and local agencies to provide them with special education required by federal law. The public agencies alleged their policies and procedures comply with applicable law. This case commenced in 2008, was removed to federal court, and had been appealed at various levels, including the California Supreme Court. Portions of the class action were settled over nine years. Case litigated for 10 years of which portions of the class action were settled.  Fully resolved by mediator’s proposal.​


  • Appeal by parent, perceived as having a mental disability, alleging a county child protective agency had wrongfully and permanently removed her child without a warrant. She further alleged that the government made false statements about her perceived mental disability in violation of her constitutional due process under 42 U.S.C. §1983, and discriminated against her in violation of the ADA and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, warranting higher attorneys' fees than the amount awarded at trial. The government's cross-appeal alleged plaintiff was not regarded as having a disability, as well as res judicata, instructional error, qualified immunity, lack of substantial evidence, and insufficiency of the evidence. Case litigated for seven years. Resolved in mediation.


  • Class action by deaf undocumented immigrant with a criminal record and a non-profit organization alleging that the U.S. government and a municipality had discriminated against detainees with hearing impairments by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters. The detainee alleged she was not accommodated during her five-month incarceration in city jail, where she underwent oral surgery and was medicated without informed consent, and could not communicate readily with her lawyers. The government agencies alleged that their policies and procedures were in compliance with applicable law. Resolved in mediation.

  • Action by a group of deaf teachers in a public school for the deaf alleging their employer, a school district, failed to provide effective communication devices and reasonable accommodation under federal and state public accommodations and disability access laws. Following partial settlement on the case in chief, the parties disputed plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. The school district alleged the attorneys’ fees demand was excessive. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.


  • Action by facilities manager alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against and harassed her because of her race and sex, retaliated against her for complaining, constructively terminated her, and committed other compensation violations and torts against her. The university alleged the employee failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.​


  • Action by seasonal employee alleging her former supervisor and former employer, a governmental agency, sexually harassed, battered, assaulted, discriminated, retaliated, created a hostile work environment, failed to prevent such conduct, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress against her. The employer alleged that it took reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation from occurring, and the employee failed to avoid the consequences by not using the employer's complaint procedure. Resolved following mediation.

  • Action by tenure-track professor alleging her former employer, a public university, discriminated against her when it denied her tenure and terminated her on account of her sex, age and marital status. The employer alleged that the professor had not met the standards for research and teaching required for tenure following a seven-year probationary period. 

  • Action by applicant for tenancy in an apartment complex against landlord, a municipal housing authority and individual defendants, alleging retaliation for having complained in the past about discrimination under California and federal fair housing laws. Housing authority alleged breach of a prior settlement agreement between the parties under which applicant had promised to never again apply for tenancy at the same apartment complex. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging public transit authority failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and committed various torts when she was injured while boarding a bus. The public transit authority alleged it had complied with applicable law and the passenger was not injured. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

  • Action by disabled passenger in wheelchair alleging a public transit agency failed to comply with disability access and public accommodations laws, and denied him and his companion use of the public transit. The agency alleged it did provide service to the passenger and his companion on the next available shuttle bus. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.