Court dismisses lawsuit brought by Police Officers Association against City of Santa Ana

Posted on July 27, 2023

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The Santa Ana police union has paid the City over $68,000 in another case.

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Santa Ana Police Officers Association (SAPOA) against the City of Santa Ana, while in a separate case the SAPOA has paid the City over $68,000, including interest for late payment.

On July 18, 2023, Orange County Superior Court Judge Erick Larsh dismissed, with prejudice, a lawsuit brought by the SAPOA and “Doe Officers” against the City. Judge Larsh’s ruling comes after the City won a motion attacking the allegations in SAPOA’s complaint, meaning that SAPOA’s entire complaint was defective and that there are no facts to support it. This follows the earlier dismissal of Police Chief David Valentin, City Manager Kristine Ridge, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho, the Santa Ana Police Department, and Santa Ana City Attorney’s Office from this lawsuit.

In the lawsuit involving payments from the SAPOA, the City and Chief Valentin prevailed on their Special Motions to Strike (also known as an anti-SLAPP motion). These motions were brought on the grounds that City officials were doing their jobs by communicating on issues of public interest relating to their official duties. The City argued that these are protected activities and that plaintiffs’ claims based on them were frivolous. The Court agreed, dismissed the claims based upon protected activities and awarded the City its attorney’s fees and costs.

Since then, due to the plaintiffs’ failure to pay the award for over four months, SAPOA ultimately paid to the City over $43,000, including interest of over $1,400. The court additionally awarded the City over $25,000 for Chief Valentin’s attorney fees for prevailing on his separate anti-SLAPP motion, bringing the total paid by SAPOA to over $68,000.

This follows the dismissal of Santa Ana City Manager Kristine Ridge, City Attorney Sonia Carvalho, Police Chief David Valentin, and Director of Human Resources Jason Motsick from that lawsuit.

The SAPOA and SAPOA President Gerry Serrano are still facing the City’s request for over $20,000 in monetary sanctions for their failure to properly respond to the City’s discovery requests.

Despite these legal victories by the City, Mr. Serrano recently filed yet another lawsuit. In response, the City filed a motion in this lawsuit arguing that plaintiff’s naming of the Santa Ana Police Department as one of the  defendants contradicts the law and previous court orders in other lawsuits involving the SAPOA where it was determined that the Santa Ana Police Department is not a separate entity capable of being sued. Further, the City has argued that, despite being on notice due to determinations in other lawsuits involving the SAPOA that certain claims are required to be brought before the California Public Employment Relations Board, the plaintiff again brought such a claim in this lawsuit.

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