San Diego faces $4 Million In Claims For Filner Lawsuits
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Claims totaling $4 million have been filed against the city of San Diego in the sexual harassment scandal involving former Mayor Bob Filner.
Most women making the nine claims reported Tuesday by U-T San Diego had come forward last summer.
However, two staffers from the mayor's office had not yet been heard from. One of them, Benelia Santos-Hunter, was executive assistant to Filner and Caroline Ledesma served as executive receptionist, according to the U-T..
Santos-Hunter's $1.5 million claim does not detail any specific actions by Filner. But said incidents happened at work multiple times since January.
Santos-Hunter is on leave, city officials said. She suffers from "severe emotional distress, upset, worry, anxiety," according to her Nov. 15 claim.
Ledesma is seeking $7,500 in her Oct. 17 claim, which alleges bullying.
"The mayor made me feel small, dumb, humiliated, as if he is the supreme and I am a nobody that he can treat as he pleases," she wrote in a statement filed with the action.
The city has 45 days to respond to the claims. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said his office was reviewing each one.
"The city took extraordinary and unprecedented action to remove former Mayor Bob Filner from office in order to protect our employees and the public," Goldsmith said in a statement Wednesday. "We now have a positive workplace atmosphere and employee morale at City Hall. We don't believe anyone will get rich from these claims."
The National Women Veterans Association of America also filed a claim.
The group wants to recoup $100,425 - including a nonrefundable $25,000 fee paid to a hotel - for an event at which Filner was to speak and receive a lifetime achievement award.
The then-mayor was yanked from the agenda after his communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit accusing him of sexual harassment.
"We want the city to at least reimburse money that has been spent," said Tara Jones, the organization's president and founder.
Filner pleaded guilty last month to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery. A message left by The Associated Press seeking comment from Filner's attorney, Jerry Coughlan, was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Filner left office Aug. 30. He begins his sentence of three months home confinement in January.
According to an agreement that Filner and the City Council reached in August, the city attorney's office will provide a joint legal defense of Filner and the city for claims filed for alleged conduct in his capacity as mayor.