Baldwin Park's first female Chief of Police wrongfully terminated. $7M. Los Angeles County.
Police Chief says she was discriminated against and then fired.
- Case Name: Hadsell v. City of Baldwin Park
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC548602
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, June 13, 2014
- Type of Action: Discrimination, Sexual, Employment, Wrongful Termination
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael L. Stern
- Plaintiffs: Lili Hadsell, 63.
- Defendants: City of Baldwin Park
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $7,020,000
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 1/2 hours.
- Jury Polls: 12-0
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Dordick Law Corporation by Gary Dordick, Beverly Hills.
Shegerian & Associates by Carney R. Shegerian, Santa Monica.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
McCune & Harber, LLP by Dana McCune and Joshua Kuns, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Warren Procci, M.D., psychiatry, Pasadena.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Tamorah Hunt, Ph.D., economics, Santa Ana.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff Lili Hadsell was the first and only female Chief of Police of defendant City of Baldwin Park. She had a 14-year career with the City before her sudden termination for "no cause." Shortly after her termination by the City Council, the city's mayor, by then part of a minority voting block on the council, texted plaintiff indicating "that was retaliation."
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That plaintiff, a Peruvian woman, had a spotless disciplinary record throughout her tenure with the city and consistently received "meets and exceeds expectations" on her performance evaluations. In 2008, plaintiff was offered the opportunity to become Chief of Police, an appointment heartily supported by all but one of the city council members, Richard Pacheco.
Pacheco supported Michael Taylor, a white male, for the Chief position. Taylor, the then-current Captain, held the expectation he would be offered the Chief position as a matter of course after the prior Chief stepped down. Infuriated with being passed over for a female Chief, he and Pacheco began a campaign to sabotage Hadsell’s ability to execute her duties of Chief, undermining her, harassing her and eventually ousting her once they were able to attain political majority on the council. That ongoing harassment centered around both plaintiff's gender and ethnicity.
During this five-year period of discord, plaintiff complained to the Mayor, the City Manager and other city council members, but the complaints fell on deaf ears. On December 10, 2013, only weeks after Pacheco was able to attain a political majority on the council, plaintiff was abruptly fired without cause and Taylor was immediately appointed in her place, at a higher rate of pay.
- Defendant's Contentions:
The City of Baldwin Park claims that it did not discharge Lili Hadsell because of her gender or retaliation, but discharged her because of her lack of leadership and a vote of no confidence by the Baldwin Park Police Association, which is a lawful reason for her discharge. As a department head, plaintiff’s employment with the City was “at-will.” This meant the City was allowed to terminate Hadsell whether right or wrong, with or without reason.
The Mayor’s text message to plaintiff, within an hour of plaintiff’s termination, stating, “That was retaliation without a doubt!!!” was not actually referring to illegal retaliation, but political retaliation.
Third-party testimony regarding text messages between that third-party and council members implying a discussion about the discharge of plaintiff were nothing more than speculation.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $1,020,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,250,000 plus fees via motion on November 11, 2016.
- Defendant §998 Offer: $250,001 on October 7, 2017.