City Wins Lawsuit after Four-Year Case
In a unanimous opinion issued Friday, Nov. 13, the California Court of Appeal found the complaint filed by Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant in 2011, alleging unlawful termination, was without any merit and dismissed the lawsuit in total. The city was awarded some $250,000 in attorney’s fees and costs and will be able to recoup additional attorney’s fees from a previous defense.
“Alameda taxpayers are the victors today,” said City Attorney Janet Kern. “An unscrupulous former public official has failed in a meritless lawsuit aimed at obtaining a large payout financed by limited public funds.”
Gallant was appointed to a temporary 24-month position in 2009 after the permanent city manager, Debra Kurita, left. Gallant’s employment contract stated that the city intended to competitively recruit for a permanent city manager during that period.
In 2010, the City Council initiated competitive recruitment for that postition and gave Gallant notice that her temporary employment would not be renewed. Gallant did not apply for the permanent position, instead, she filed suit claiming that the council’s action was illegal and that she was entitled to continuing payment as an Interim City Manager.
The Alameda County Superior Court in 2014, and the California Court of Appeal in its recent opinion, agreed that Gallant had failed to make any plausible arguments to support any of the four counts of her lawsuit.
The Court of Appeal, in an earlier June 2013 opinion had determined that Gallant’s lawsuit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a SLAPP suit.