Partner Mitch Dean, on August 16, 2018, won a 12-0 defense verdict for the City of Carlsbad, after a 7 day trial, in a FEHA retaliation and Labor Code 1102.5 whistleblower case. (Willis v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2016-00004240-CU-OE-NC) Police sergeant James Willis claimed he was retaliated against for supporting fellow officer Jesse Flores in Flores’ claim of racial discrimination. He also claimed retaliation for opposing what he believed was an illegal quota system (the whistleblowing claim) as part of a new officer performance review process instituted by the department in 2015. The jury found that Willis did not oppose what he reasonably believed to be racial discrimination, that he was not retaliated for his support of Flores, and that even if the whistleblowing activity was a contributing factor, the department had other independent legitimate reasons for not promoting him to sergeant. Mr. Dean proved to the jury that the department had legitimate reasons for any adverse employment actions taken against Willis, including a very defamatory email Willis sent out (initially anonymously) to the media and the District Attorney’s office accusing a fellow officer of felony perjury.
This case was the fourth in a series of trials brought by the same plaintiff’s firm and involved Carlsbad police officers suing the Carlsbad police department for a variety of employment claims, including sexual harassment, disability discrimination, retaliation for opposing racial discrimination, and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. None of these claims have been successful. In the four matters, including the Flores matter, already summarized below, there have been 2 jury defense verdicts and 2 nonsuits. Mitch Dean was assisted in trial preparation and trial by his experienced associates Garrett Smee and Heather Paradis. The other matters were Preston v. City of Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2015-00021751-CU-WT-NC; Sisco v. City of Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2014-00026069-CU-WT-NC; and Flores v. Carlsbad, Case No. 37-2014-00015129-CU-OE-NC.