This post has been updated, see below for details.
A lawsuit filed by the city against a former police lieutenant accused of stealing department records appears headed for trial, even though he returned the documents.
Former police lieutenant Omar Rodriguez was part of a multi-plaintiff lawsuit filed against the city in May 2009 in which three Latino officers, including Rodriguez, a black officer and an Armenian officer alleged harassment and discrimination based on ethnicity and gender, among other claims.
The 22-year veteran was terminated in April 2010. He also claimed he was placed on administrative leave in retaliation for complaining of an improper relationship between former police Chief Tim Stehr and the officers union.
Rodriguez, along with two other officers, eventually were dropped from the case by a judge. But the city filed a cross complaint in October 2009 alleging Rodriguez took personnel documents from the police department.
Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano said Rodriguez “misused confidential personnel documents for his own use.”
Although he returned all the documents, Albano said the matter of Rodriguez allegedly breaking the law by taking the documents in the first place still had not been resolved, setting the stage for a jury trial July 18 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Kenneth Yuwiler, could not be reached for comment.
The case was listed on the City Council's closed session agenda, but was it was unclear if any change in course would come out of those discussions, which are typically private unless any action is taken.
Rodriguez also has a pending wrongful termination case that could go before a jury in the fall.
Another plaintiff in the 2009 multi-plaintiff lawsuit is current Officer Cindy Guillen.
A jury on May 14 rejected her claims that she was harassed and discriminated against because, in part, of her ethnicity, gender and pregnancy.
Her motion for a new trial was denied on June 25.
Guillen’s attorney, Solomon Gresen, who represented all the officers in the 2009 lawsuit, said this week he is “evaluating the merits of a possible appeal.”
Armenian American Police Det. Steve Karagiosian in March was awarded $150,000 by a jury who sided with his claims that he faced discrimination and harassment because of his ethnicity.
Burbank’s request for a new trial also was denied.
City officials have not said whether they will file an appeal.
“It’s up to the City Council and no decision has been made on that case yet,” Albano said.
[Update 8:15 a.m. July 11: The City Council announced its decision last night to appeal the verdict.]
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