Firefighter dog-food lawsuit back in talks

first_imgWith a trial nearing, settlement talks are heating up in the high-profile racial-discrimination case of firefighter Tennie Pierce, who accused colleagues of putting dog food in his spaghetti. But even as sources say the City Attorney’s Office has discussed a deal with Pierce’s attorneys to resurrect the $2.7 million settlement Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa vetoed a year ago, the mayor says he won’t back down. “The mayor’s position has been consistent since he issued his veto,” said Thomas Saenz, counsel to the mayor. “He believes that the $2.7 million settlement … was too high given the development of the case.” A source said the amount would have to be significantly lower, likely in six figures, for the mayor to sign off on a settlement. A spokesman for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo declined to comment, as did Pierce’s attorneys. The City Attorney’s Office in July worked with Pierce’s attorneys – who have a $3.1 million settlement demand before the city – to agree to the $2.7 million amount, sources said, with the deal restructured to include money to reform the beleaguered Los Angeles Fire Department, which has paid out more than $10 million over the last seven years to resolve personnel issues. With trial set for Sept. 24, sources said there is increasing pressure from some quarters on the City Council to settle. Members met behind closed doors Wednesday and will continue talks next week. “We had a very healthy discussion, and I believe there might be some opportunity for the council and the mayor to move forward,” said Councilman Richard Alarc n, who was not on the council at the time it approved the $2.7 million offer last year. Villaraigosa vetoed the deal after Pierce’s pranks against other firefighters came to light. A source said a settlement would spare Pierce, who is African-American, and his family any more anguish. “It’s hard on his family; a lawsuit is hard,” the source said. “People say terrible things about him.” Last month, Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney denied the city’s motion to have Pierce’s claims of racial harassment, emotional distress, retaliation and failure to investigate dismissed, saying the issues should be tried before a jury. [email protected] (818) 713-3731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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