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Costa Mesa Official Agrees to Settlement

City attorney who alleged that he was wrongfully suspended drops his suit. He will resign with full benefits and a $750,000 payment.

October 30, 2003|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

Costa Mesa City Atty. Jerry Scheer, who had sued the city alleging he was wrongfully suspended, has agreed to resign and settle the case out of court for $750,000.

The City Council approved the settlement Monday, said Scheer's attorney, Dan Stormer.

Scheer, 74, will receive full retirement benefits in addition to the cash settlement, Stormer said.

"This settlement allows both the city and Jerry Scheer to move on," Stormer said. "Everybody was looking to put this to rest."

Mayor Gary Monahan said the city settled the case because "from a business perspective, this was the right thing to do for the city and residents of Costa Mesa. If the case had gone to trial, we would have had hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses as well as the potential of damages and attorneys' fees for the other side."

Scheer, city attorney since 1999, had sued two current and two former council members in September, alleging slander, infliction of emotional distress, age discrimination and wrongful suspension.

Scheer was hired by the city in 1986 as a deputy city attorney. He was promoted to assistant city attorney in 1990 and was named city attorney in 1999.

According to Scheer's suit, a senior deputy city attorney filed a grievance with the city in 2001 saying she was a victim of sexual discrimination by Scheer.

The charges were investigated and found to be without merit, he said in his suit.

Several months later, however, he was asked to leave a closed meeting during which the city manager and council members discussed various allegations and complaints against him, Scheer said.

After the meeting, he said, he was notified he had been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.

The suspension and investigation were reported in local newspapers and contained false and defamatory statements, his suit alleged.

Although Scheer was reinstated in October, he worked only part time, citing severe emotional distress.

When the council ordered him to work full time or resign, Scheer went on sick leave.

"Closure for people like Jerry is very important," Stormer said.

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