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Council endorses settlement in Dyer harassment case

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fresno city attorney James Sanchez told the city council hiring an outside law firm to deal with the recent lawsuit against Police Chief Jerry Dyer was a smart move.

Sanchez said, "I can tell you that I am satisfied, that the defense efforts that were provided by the outside counsel definitely served the purpose of the case, the city was defended well and I believe the results speak for themselves."

The results were that Deputy Police Chief's Sharon Shaffer and Robert Nevarez each received a $100 thousand settlement. They had accused the chief of creating a hostile working environment by making racist and sexist comments. Their attorney, Warren Paboojian also got $100 thousand. But Patricia L. Glaser, the Beverly Hills attorney hired by the city was paid $820 thousand.

City Council member Larry Westerlund, who's also an attorney, thinks that was okay. He noted Warren Paboojian was noted for winning big in cases like this. He says the city was afraid Shaffer and Nevarez could have won millions.

Westerlund said, "I think we wanted to send a message and we were going to get the best we could and that we were going to defend this thing vigorously and I think the results speak for themselves."

But ABC 30 Legal Analyst, attorney Tony Capozzi thinks the legal fees the city paid are out of line. "I was surprised, there was no need for the city of Fresno to be spending $825 thousand on an outside law firm. No question warren Paboojian is a good lawyer, he's done well with these kinds of cases, but again, firms here in Fresno can handle a case like this at much less expense."

Sanchez acknowledges Glaser was more expensive but says local law firms he contacted had potential conflicts with the case, and said it was more than his office could handle.

The money paid to settle the case comes out of the city's risk management fund. It's a $3 million dollar pool of money the city budgets each year for lawsuits.

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Tags:
lawsuit, fresno police department, jerry dyer, local, gene haagenson
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