Daily Journal Staff
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to settle three
lawsuits for a total of $675,000, including a sexual and racial
harassment case against the sheriff's department.
In the sexual
harassment lawsuit, Pamela Lee-Carey contended that as a sheriff's
deputy, she was subjected to numerous acts of sexual and racial
harassment by various members of the department.Lee-Carey v. County
of Los Angeles, BC088356.
According to a summary
of the case by Roger H. Granbo, a deputy county counsel, and Calvin
House, a private attorney working for the county on the case, Lee-Carey
claimed sexually explicit pictures and cartoons were posted at her
assigned stations. She also said she was subjected to racial jokes and
comments throughout her career.
The alleged harassment
culminated in June 1994 when Lee-Carey, who is black, was injured
during a physical altercation with a male sheriff's deputy in the
briefing room at the Metro Blue Line station. She contends the argument
was racially motivated. She hasn't returned to work since the incident
and has been granted a disability retirement. A workers' compensation
proceeding is pending.
Midgley of Los Angeles' Manes & Watson, who represents Lee-Carey,
said she "had virtually a mental breakdown because of the
treatment she got."
Midgley, whose client
now lives in Maryland, said he hopes that her settlement may help other
women who have been harassed or discriminated against come forward.
In its evaluation of
the case, the county attorneys state that although the evidence is
disputed, the plaintiff would have sexually explicit pictures and
cartoons to present at trial if the case wasn't settled. They also
estimated she would be entitled to $100,000 to $150,000 in attorney
fees if she were to prevail at trial.
"In addition, our
psychological expert confirms that she is suffering severe emotional
problems," the attorneys wrote. "A jury is likely to believe
that the emotional problems could not have resulted unless she was
subjected to ongoing harassment while employed with the Sheriff's
So far, the county has
incurred $139,205 in attorney fees and $24,979 in costs. A large part
of the fees, the attorneys wrote, resulted from a court discovery
ruling ordering the department to produce more than 120 internal
investigation files about other employment discrimination cases.
In another case, county
supervisors agreed to pay $315,000 to settle a breach of contract
lawsuit brought by Radich Construction Inc. against Waterworks District
No. 29 over construction of water system improvements in the Point Dume
area of Malibu. Radich Construction Inc. v. County of
Los Angeles, BC152960.
The lawsuit stems from
changes Radich needed to make after the county discovered the project
area included archaeologically sensitive Chumash Indian burial grounds,
according to a summary of the case from Paul I. Yoshinaga, a senior
deputy county counsel, and James Leonard Brown, a private attorney
hired to work on the case.
Radich contends the
county's bid package and project specifications were inadequate because
of the sensitive archaeological site.
So far, the county has
incurred $44,000 in attorney fees and $1,300 in costs, amounts that
would "increase significantly" if the case were to go to
Attorney Randall J.
Pitre of Pitre & Teunisse in San Dimas, who represents Radich, said
the settlement was a result of mediation. "My client had
substantially more damages they were looking for, but all things
considered, they felt this settlement was prudent," he said.
In the third lawsuit,
the board authorized spending $200,000 to settle a personal injury
lawsuit that stemmed from a collision between a sheriff's patrol unit
and a private vehicle on April 16, 1992, in Lancaster. Metzler
v. County of Los Angeles, MC004090.
So far, the county has
incurred $36,175.21 in attorney fees and $16,786.79 in expenses in a
case in which the city of Lancaster already has settled for $50,000 and
a construction contractor, CA Rasmussen, has settled for $100,000.
A summary of the case
from Philip S. Miller, a principal deputy county counsel, and Normal
Pearl, a private attorney working on the case for the county, states
Metzler was inching forward at an intersection because his visibility
was limited by construction equipment.
When he saw far enough
down the street that there wasn't traffic that "presented a hazard
to him," he began to accelerate through the intersection. As he
did so, a sheriff's patrol car, which was chasing another vehicle at
speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour, drove into the intersection and
collided with Metzler's car.
In an evaluation of the
case, the county attorneys say they believe a judge or jury would find
the sheriff's deputy negligent because he was driving at a high rate of
speed in an area of limited visibility without a siren.