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Sex Harassment Trial Against Panic to Start

October 24, 1998|GREG HERNANDEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Barring any last-minute settlements, opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday in a sexual harassment lawsuit against ICN Pharmaceuticals and Milan Panic, the chairman of the Costa Mesa drug manufacturer.

Mary Martinelli, ICN's former human resources director, is the plaintiff. She was a $101,200-a-year executive whose duties included dealing with sexual harassment claims. Martinelli is one of six female ICN employees in the past five years to accuse the 68-year-old Panic of sexual harassment and one of four to file a lawsuit.

A jury for the trial, which is expected to last five weeks in Orange County Superior Court, was selected Friday after two full days of painstaking questioning.

Attorneys for both sides touched on various topics, including prospective jurors' views on the 1991 U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.

The panel that was finally formed late Friday is composed of eight women and four men. Three women and one man are alternates.

Superior Court Judge Raymond J. Ikola informed attorneys for both sides that he likely would allow limited testimony from other women who worked for the company, including some who have reached settlements in their sexual harassment cases.

The judge said he would not make a final decision on the matter until after hearing arguments from both sides Monday, which will be made before opening statements.

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