Local Politics

Monday, Nov 18 2013 04:31 PM

August trial date set in suit against Cal City mayor

BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

A Kern County Superior Court Judge on Monday set an Aug. 25 trial date for California City Water Department employee Dawn Ferguson's sexual harassment lawsuit against city Mayor Patrick Bohannon.

The lawsuit filed March 18 by Ferguson, 50, accuses Bohannon, the city, and 20 unidentified defendants, of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.

Bohannon, 70, a licensed contractor, has declined to comment on the case. The city manager and the city's attorney have denied the allegations.

Ferguson's attorney Dan Gilleon of San Diego has said his client seeks $1 million in damages, but will settle for $100,000 if Bohannon leaves office, either by resigning or being removed.

In a brief hearing Monday, with neither defendants nor plaintiff present, and three sets of attorneys heard via conference calls, Kern County Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe granted a request from Bohannon's representation for more time.

"Defendants aren't ready yet. We still have a ways to go. We expect to file a motion for summary judgment as well," Bohannon's attorney Jerry Deschler of Sacramento told the judge via speaker phone, seeking a 105-day extension.

Contacted via telephone, Deschler declined to comment on the case.

Hearing his request, Lampe suggested Aug. 25, and attorneys for the city agreed.

The case will return to court briefly July 25 for a mandatory settlement conference, followed by a case management conference Aug. 15, before going to trial.

Gilleon, whose associate Samuel Clemens handled the morning hearing, wasn't thrilled about waiting nine months until trial.

"They say time is the defendant's best witness," Gilleon said.

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