Judge overturns jury's ruling in sexual harassment suit against city of Oceanside

Victim of sexual harassment loses $1.5 million

OCEANSIDE, Calif. - A judge has overturned a jury's ruling to give $1.5 million to the victim in a sexual harassment suit against the city of Oceanside.

A jury decided 11-to-1 that then-Oceanside police Officer Gil Garcia sexually harassed his coworker, Kimberli Hirst. It took four weeks of trial, but in the end the jury awarded Hirst $1.5 million and held the city liable because it happened on the job.

It was a decision that the city attorney sent to Judge Jacqueline Stern for approval.

"The judge deleted the jury's verdict," said Hirst's attorney, Dwight Ritter. "She just whipped it away."

In this ruling, Stern wrote the victim's testimony about her harassment "appeared staged at times."

Stern went on to write, "(she) cried numerous times during her trial testimony, but admitted that when she eventually discussed the harassment four years ago (when it happened) she did not cry," ultimately saying that Hirst was "not credible."

"The city of Oceanside found her credible," said Ritter. "They believed her testimony. They believed what they said about this man harassing her sexually to such an extent that they went and terminated the police officer."

Stern could have decided to award any amount of damages she deemed fit from $1 to the original $1.5 million.

Despite an almost unanimous jury decision – considered an overwhelming landslide in cases like this – the judge decided to award nothing.

Now, they have two decisions: appeal or have another trial, which is something they may do following an 11-to-1 win. But even if they won a second trial, the judge could do the same thing all over again.

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