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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | EAST COUNTY / THOUSAND OAKS

Resolution Delayed on Mayor's Suit

November 11, 1998|ANDREW STEVEN HARRIS

A court delay will postpone resolution of Thousand Oaks Mayor Mike Markey's disability lawsuit against his former employer.

The retired Compton police officer reached an out-of-court settlement in December 1997, after the city had denied his claim for disability retirement.

State workers' compensation regulations allow an employee to penalize the employer as much as 10% of the total award if it can be proven that the employer refused to honor a claim knowing that it was legitimate.

Markey said the exact amount remains uncertain because of a complicated retirement formula that will determine the specific value of his claim.

"I'm going after them for what they did," he said. "It's the principle of the thing, even if I don't win a dollar."

The new court date is Dec. 2.

Markey was wounded by a shotgun during the 1992 riots following the first Rodney G. King trial. He had previously injured his back in an on-the-job car accident that eventually forced him onto painkillers and into a desk job.

Compton officials later questioned whether Markey could properly work a desk job while on medication, and his doctor soon ordered him to permanently retire after prescribing even stronger painkillers.

That triggered a two-year legal dispute during which Markey lived off his accumulated vacation pay, and Compton officials refused to honor his disability claim, arguing that he could still work in a limited capacity.

Compton officials declined to comment on the case, citing state laws that make personnel files confidential. However, they disputed Markey's accusation that the city had acted inappropriately.

"There is no misconduct on the part of the city, but that is all we are allowed to say," said Steve Okonta, a city administrator.

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