City pays $250K to settle Filner harassment suit

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council Monday approved a $250,000 payment to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the resignation of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

The lump-sum payment will resolve all aspects of the litigation filed by Filner’s ex-communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told reporters during a late-afternoon briefing.

Irene-McCormack-Jackson,-Bob-Filner

Irene McCormack Jackson and Bob Filner

“This settlement avoids an intense litigation,” said Jan Goldsmith.  “It would have cost both parties more than the settlement amount.”

The council approved the settlement in closed session.

McCormack Jackson, represented by Los Angeles-based women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, alleged the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he was eager to “consummate” their relationship.

She also contended that Filner demanded kisses and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.

It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August after less than nine months in office. The City Attorney’s Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.

Filner later pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.

“California law holds the city as an employer strictly liable for sexual harassment conduct of a supervisor, including the mayor, directed at a city employee,” Goldsmith said. “Legal liability may extend to physical and emotional injuries, loss of income and other costs — as well as attorney’s fees.”

Preparing for trial, which was scheduled to begin Feb. 20 of next year, would have cost both sides more than the settlement amount, he said.

“I think both sides won because we resolved this early, before a year of very expensive litigation, plus a trial at the end,” Goldsmith said.

McCormack Jackson has been on unpaid leave. Under the settlement, her municipal employment will terminate on April 1.

Allred plans to address the media on Tuesday, Feb. 11. in San Diego.

The city attorney said Filner agreed to the deal on Friday. As part of the agreement that led to Filner’s resignation, the former mayor will not have to fork over any money to McCormack Jackson.

“This was a very difficult situation for her and she handled it with dignity.  We wish her well,” said Goldsmith.

Cases filed by two other women who sued Filner over his alleged misconduct are still pending.

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex- mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.

Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.

Resolutions of those cases could come “fairly soon,” according to Goldsmith.  Meantime, San Diego’s head to the polls tomorrow to vote in a new mayor after a special election to to replace Filner. As of this print, Democrat David Alvarez and Republican Kevin Faulkner were in a dead heat.

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