Soledad prison office technician is sexually harassed by co-workers. $709K. Monterey County.

Summary

Office tech and correctional officer have sex at her home; he makes a video and later shows it to co-workers.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jane Doe v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Che White, Luis Serna, and Chad Bala
  • Court and Case Number: Monterey County Superior Court / 18CV003655
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, September 28, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, September 26, 2018
  • Type of Action: Sexual Harassment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Thomas J. Wills
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jane Doe; 44, female, administrative support tech
  • Defendants:
    California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (employer)
    Luis Serna
    Che White
    Chad Bala
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $709,555
  • Economic Damages:

    $59,555

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $650,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Fenton & Keller by Elizabeth R. Leitzinger and Gladys Rodriguez-Morales, Monterey.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Office of the Attorney General by Bonnie Chen and Paloma Carrero. (For California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Che White.)

    Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff, LLP by Gokalp Gurer, Esq. and Derick Konz. (For Chad Bala.)

    Luis Serna, in pro per.   

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Scott Barer, workplace investigation.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff worked as an office technician at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prison, from 2013 until 2019. In January 2017, defendant Officer Luis “Tony” Serna, who also worked at the prison, recorded a video of himself and plaintiff having sex at her home. Defendant Serna distributed the video to prison co-workers without plaintiff’s knowledge or consent. 

    Following the initial distribution, the video was shared among additional prison employees, both inside and outside of work. Plaintiff learned of the video distribution in March 2018 and complained to the prison. In September 2018, plaintiff filed this lawsuit asserting claims for workplace harassment and failure to prevent harassment. 

    In August 2019, plaintiff resigned her position at the prison. In October and November 2019, the prison determined that distribution of the video by Officer Luis Serna, Officer Peter Paluck, and Sergeant Chad Bala constituted sexual harassment, and the CDCR issued discipline to these individuals.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the conduct of each defendant constituted workplace sexual harassment. That the CDCR was aware of the harassment and supervisors engaged in the harassment. That the CDCR failed to take immediate and appropriate action to stop the harassment. That the CDCR’s conduct amounted to discrimination and retaliation. 

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the complained-of conduct was not related to the workplace, and did not constitute severe or pervasive harassment. 

    Also, that the CDCR took immediate and appropriate action in response to plaintiff’s complaint. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Emotional distress.

  • Lost wages and medical expenses.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $10,537.91
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $10,537.91
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $36,955.39
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $28,359

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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