San Diego Settles Filner Civil Suit for $250K

The civil suit was brought by Irene McCormack Jackson, the communications director under Filner

By Andie Adams
|  Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014  |  Updated 10:41 AM EDT
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NBC 7's Dave Summers reports on the settlement announcement in the civil suit involving the City of San Diego and the former mayor Bob Filner.

NBC 7's Dave Summers reports on the settlement announcement in the civil suit involving the City of San Diego and the former mayor Bob Filner.

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The City of San Diego announced Monday it has reached a $250,000 settlement in one of three civil cases involving former Mayor Bob Filner. 

The lawsuit, brought by Irene McCormack Jackson, alleges that Filner harassed her several times while she worked as his communications director, once asking her to come to work without underwear on.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and McCormack Jackson's attorney Gloria Allred negotiated the settlement, and it holds the city as an employer strictly liable for Filner's actions.

Goldsmith said Filner signed off on the agreement on Friday, which releases him and the city from further liability.

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"Nothing will come out of [Filner's] pocket," said Goldsmith. "This is the city's responsibility under the settlement."

The terms of the settlement were unanimously approved by the San Diego City Council Monday. The $250,000 covers all claims -- including attorney fees and claims against Filner -- and will be paid in one lump sum from the city treasury, as well as possibly insurance coverage.

"Both sides won because we resolved it early, before a year of very expensive litigation plus a trial at the end. I think this is an example of good lawyering on both sides," said Goldsmith.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial on Feb. 2015, and Goldsmith expected it would have gone for weeks, costing both sides more than the settlement amount.

McCormack Jackson, who is currently on unpaid leave, will leave city employment effective April 1, 2014, on her own will. She is expected to hold her own news conference Tuesday with Allred, her attorney.

Two other lawsuits are still pending against the city: one by a Parks and Recreation employee, and another by a Marine veteran and nurse based on a single incident.

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When asked about his reaction to the settlement, Interim San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria released this statement:

I am pleased that a settlement has been reached in this case and that our City can continue to move forward beyond the actions of our previous mayor. I thank City Attorney Jan Goldsmith for working diligently to resolve this matter. Further, Irene McCormack-Jackson deserves the gratitude of our City for standing up courageously against treatment no one should ever endure.

On Tuesday, San Diegans will vote to elect a new mayor. Either Democrat David Alvarez or Republican Kevin Faulconer will fill the spot left by Filner.

"We're in a better place now. We are all moving on," Alvarez said in response to the settlement. "Tomorrow, we'll have a new mayor, and that will determine the future of our city."

Faulconer did not respond to NBC 7's requests for comment.

Special Section: Race for Mayor

McCormick Jackson’s allegations in July led to a number of different women coming forward and eventually led to Filner stepping down from office. McCormack Jackson was the first to publicly identify herself as a victim by name.

"It’s really a very difficult situation for her," said Goldsmith. "She handled it with dignity and I wish her well."

Former City Councilmember Donna Frye, who was the first to accuse the mayor of sexually harassing women, said she's glad McCormack Jackson is getting "some long overdue justice."

"“For Irene, it was never about the money," said Frye. "But there still have to be consequences for people’s bad behavior.”

In October, 2013, Filner pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor charges of battery.

He was ordered in December to 90 days home confinement as punishment for the three charges that ended his term as San Diego mayor.

Under the terms, Filner was put on probation for three years with six months of custody stayed.

He must agree not to seek or hold public office, undergo treatment as recommended by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist and surrender his city retirement.

For the first 18 months he has to report periodically to a probation officer. If there aren't any problems, he will be unsupervised though still on probation.

Frye said while the outcome of the settlement is good for McCormack Jackson, it’s bad for the San Diego taxpayers, who will essentially be footing the bill. She referred to other recent city settlements involving former police officer Anthony Arevalos

"If a sworn police officer or the mayor of the city does not have the common sense and needs training to know you don’t put your hands up a woman’s pants or you don’t grab her breast or grope her, if they need training to understand that is wrong, they have no business being in office or working as a police officer and in any other capacity in this city," said Frye.

She said the public needs to let their elected officials know that this type of behavior is unacceptable. 

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