Verdict's appeal might take twice as long as trial

Darleene Barrientos

It took more than a year to reach a verdict after a sexual-harassment

lawsuit was filed against the Glendale Police Department. Getting a

decision on an appeal of that verdict could take twice as long.

Officers Katie Frieders, Renae Kerner, Jamie Franke and Carla

Haupt, and Community Service Officer Linda Daidone, filed the

original lawsuit in 2001. It alleged that they were subjected to

sexual harassment by their supervisors, then punished and retaliated

against when they rejected romantic advances. Haupt's complaint was

dismissed; Daidone settled her claims with the city before the case

went to trial in early 2003.

The trial began Feb. 5 of that year, but because several jurors

called in sick with the flu, a mistrial was declared two weeks later.

Starting over the next day, plaintiffs' and defendants' attorneys

spent more than three months questioning dozens of witnesses. The

jury deliberated for 15 days after closing statements in mid-May. The

multimillion-dollar verdict was announced June 2, 2003. Defense

attorneys filed a brief in April of this year, protesting the judge's

decision to not award attorney fees to the defendants. Nothing has

thus far been filed to appeal the verdict, which earns 7% annual

interest as it moves through the appellate process.

Since the verdict was announced, plaintiffs' and the defense

lawyers have made several motions.

* Judge David A. Workman awarded $1.1 million in attorney fees to

the plaintiffs, which the city will pay. Plaintiffs' lawyer Brad Gage

later tried to have that amount raised to $4.1 million, according to

court officials. Workman denied that motion.

* The city was successful in reducing Franke's more than

$1.3-million award by $181,600. Franke's award was discounted to

essentially reflect what it will be worth in five years.

* Defense lawyers unsuccessfully moved for a new trial. The

lawyers claimed a new trial was necessary because of alleged juror

misconduct, jury miscalculations of the judgments, and improperly

filed claims by the plaintiffs.

* Gage also made other unsuccessful motions. Workman denied his

request that his clients' awards be raised to relieve them of their

increased tax responsibility. Another unsuccessful motion was to add

another $150,000 because the jury found that Kerner's Peace Officers

Bill of Rights had been violated.

* The Los Angeles law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP

is handling the city's appeal of the verdict. That appeal will focus

on issues that defense attorneys Irma Rodriguez Moisa and Sergio Bent

objected to throughout the trial, including the judge's decision to

allow evidence that was beyond the statute of limitations and permit

testimony from witnesses who said they had heard the plaintiffs were

being harassed, but did not have firsthand knowledge of such acts.

* Gage hired Woodland Hills law firm Benedon & Serlin to help him

appeal the attorney's fee award granted by the judge. Because the

number of hours defense lawyers devoted to the case was not equal to

the time the plaintiffs spent on the case, Gage believes he and his

co-counselors deserve more than the $1.1 million they were awarded.

Gage also plans to appeal the trial judge's decision to not grant

penalties for the violation of Kerner's Peace Officers Bill of Rights

and to not relieve his clients of their increased tax responsibility.

* After the city submits the court reporter's transcripts, the

Court of Appeals will issue a schedule for briefs in the verdict

appeal. The city will submit an opening brief, and Gage will submit a

reply brief. The appellate court also will schedule a day for the

lawyers to argue their sides. After that hearing, the court has 90

days to rule.

With all the planned appeals from both defense and plaintiffs'

lawyers, there seems to be no end to the case in sight.

"We don't even have a briefing schedule yet. We are probably, at a

minimum, six months away from any decision from the Court of

Appeals," City Atty. Scott Howard said.

"I really couldn't say [how much longer the case will take],

because there are still options [such as settlement] that are out

there."

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