Attorney: Mayor Bob Filner's defense makes sense

Says Filner offers city 'business decision'

SAN DIEGO - A well-known San Diego attorney said Mayor Bob Filner's defensive stance on the sexual harassment lawsuit against him makes sense.

Filner's attorney, Harvey Berger, said the city is liable because the mayor never received sexual harassment training.

In a statement sent to Team 10, attorney Dan Gilleon evaluated the letter Berger sent to the city attorney.

"Harvey Berger did not say San Diego must pay for Filner's defense because he didn't get sexual harassment training," Gilleon wrote.

"He admitted sexual harassment is outside the course and scope and doesn't fall within the Gov. Code indemnity provisions," Gilleon's statement said.

Berger "points out two ways the City is on the hook, so by hanging Filner out to dry, the City is only helping Jackson whack them both," Gilleon wrote.

"Harvey explained the two theories, 1) the City is independently liable because it neglected the duty to train, and 2) the City is strictly liable because Filner was a supervisor.  If the City is going to have to pay for Filner's conduct, they should be working together to limit the plaintiff's recovery--it's done all the time in lawsuits where the defendants are acting rationally."

The lawsuit against Filner is filed by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson.

Gilleon referred to the sexual harassment case against City of Oceanside - a case Gilleon was involved in.

He said the Oceanside hung former officer Gilbert Garcia "out to dry, like Goldsmith is doing to Filner."

"Because Garcia was not indemnified, plaintiff agreed to settle with us for $0 on the second day of trial," Gilleon wrote. "This benefited the plaintiff because we were not around to defend the case." 

In the Oceanside case, the jury awarded the plaintiff $1.5 million.

"Harvey Berger is making this very point: if Filner doesn't get competent defense, and because of that, the jury hits him hard, the City will be footing the bill. Harvey is saying, 'Make a business decision and commence damage control.'  But, it's falling on deaf ears," Gilleon said.

Gloria Allred represents McCormack Jackson. She could not immediately be reached for comment.

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