Woman can’t sue San Diego ex-mayor despite his guilty plea
A woman who claims former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner groped her in 2013 can’t pursue a sexual battery lawsuit because she missed a key filing date, a state appellate court ruled this week.
The case is one of four unresolved lawsuits the city was facing involving Filner, who resigned from office after more than a dozen women publicly accused him of groping and making inappropriate sexual remarks.
The ruling, issued Tuesday by the 4th District Court of Appeal, reverses a lower court ruling from April that had said the civil case could proceed.
In the litigation, Jeri Dines says Filner rubbed and grabbed her buttocks while posing for a photo with her at a Fiesta Island Dog Owners event in May 2013.
Filner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery in the case. For that crime and two others to which he pleaded guilty, Filner was sentenced to three months of house arrest and three years of probation.
A year after the incident, Dines sought monetary damages from the city and Filner. The six-month period for making such a claim had expired, but her attorneys were given until November 2014 to petition for a court order allowing a late claim.
Because they missed that deadline, the appeals court ruled the lawsuit can’t proceed.
“When claimants fail to follow the legal process, they will ultimately lose,” City Atty. Jan Goldsmith said Wednesday.
Unlike some of the civil suits against Filner, the city didn’t defend the former mayor in this case because his guilty plea eliminated the city’s obligation to do so. But the city still represented itself.
This fall, the city agreed to pay $99,000 to settle another Filner lawsuit filed by wounded Marine veteran Katherine Ragazzino and her nurse, Michelle Tyler.
The city settled two other lawsuits against Filner in February 2014 for a total of $348,000. They had been filed by Irene McCormack Jackson, who had served as the mayor’s communications director, and Peggy Shannon, who operated an information kiosk at City Hall.
Jackson got $250,000 and the city reimbursed Filner for $98,000 in attorney’s fees. Shannon, who has died since her settlement, got a public apology from the city and the council declared Feb. 24, 2014, Peggy Shannon Day.
This week’s ruling against Dines leaves three unresolved cases involving Filner that may go to trial this year.
They were filed by Benelio Santos-Hunter, who worked as Filner’s executive assistant, and city parks employees Stacie McKenzie and Marilyn McGaughy.
Garrick writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
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