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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

U.S. Must Pay City's Fees in Discrimination Lawsuit

May 16, 2000

TORRANCE — The U.S. Department of Justice must pay the city of Torrance $1.7 million for attorneys fees the city spent defending itself in a lawsuit filed by the government, a court has ruled.

In a decision released Monday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision that the federal government is liable for the fees because it found that the original lawsuit was "frivolous, unreasonable and without foundation," according to the ruling.

In 1993, the Department of Justice filed suit against Torrance, charging that the city's police and fire departments discriminated against minority applicants for jobs.

The city prevailed in that case in 1996.

In 1998, a federal judge ruled that the Justice Department should pay the city's fees, and last Thursday, the Court of Appeals struck down Justice's appeal of that decision.

Torrance Mayor Dee Hardison said she was delighted with the decision.

"The city stood up to the Justice Department . . . because it believed it had acted lawfully in choosing the very best police officers and firefighters to protect its citizens," she said.

Department of Justice officials could not be reached for comment.

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