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Another Costly Settlement for CSUF Officials

Courts: The agreement, the fourth large payout, comes in a suit filed by an ex-personnel director.

April 18, 2002|JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With the settlement of a second lawsuit, a brother and sister who were longtime employees at Cal State Fullerton will have received nearly $1 million from the state university system.

The university agreed in a settlement hearing Friday in Orange County Superior Court to pay former personnel director David Losco $457,000 to settle his lawsuit, said his attorney, Karen Taillon, who also represented his sister, Pamela Losco.

Losco had alleged that he was demoted because the university believed he had helped his sister in her sexual harassment suit and as retaliation for giving information to a state auditor about financial misdoings by university officials.

Cal State Fullerton spokeswoman Paula Selleck said that an agreement in principle had been reached but that university lawyers had advised officials not to comment until the deal was signed.

She said the agreement was not an admission of wrongdoing.

His was the fourth substantial lawsuit by a CSUF employee the university has lost or settled in the past two years for a total of about $1.3 million. Three previous ones were sexual harassment suits.

Six current or former Latino employees also filed suit against the university last month, alleging discrimination. Another lawsuit, filed last year by a psychological counselor at CSUF, alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

Pamela Losco's suit was one of two sexual harassment cases filed against the campus and Charles B. Darke, then the director of the student health center.

Pamela Losco, Darke's administrative assistant, received $447,000. Her assistant, Debbie Melsheimer, received $100,000 in a separate suit. Both cases were settled in March 2000.

At the time, Pamela Losco's settlement was believed to be the largest the 23-campus university system had paid in a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Taillon said that shortly after Pamela's settlement with the university, her brother was demoted.

After staying away from work on a combination of paid and unpaid leave, he was fired. As part of the settlement, David Losco, 59, will retire in his former position as executive director of human resource as of Feb. 1, Taillon said.

Taillon called the university's action against him "pure and simple, vindictive retaliation.''

"I would hope [CSUF] has learned that the behavior exhibited toward my clients is not only inappropriate but illegal, and would take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again as opposed to taking steps to ensure that they do a better job of covering it up the next time," she said.

In his suit, David Losco said he helped whistle-blowers and passed information to the state auditor's office.

The auditor reported in December 1999 that university officials misspent about $1 million, using scholarship money on entertainment and meals and giving work to friends.

Losco's lawsuit said that officials blamed him for the audit results and harassed him.

The suit also charged that university President Milton Gordon instructed Losco to destroy his notes of conversations with auditors. Taillon said she filed declarations by other employees that David Losco had told them of Gordon's orders in early 1997.

Gordon has denied the allegations.

The third sexual harassment suit came in March 2001 when a jury awarded assistant biology professor Sandra Banack $311,000 in damages and attorney's fees.

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