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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ipsen's "Federal Lawsuit" goes down the crapper

The LA Times has confirmed comments posted in response to our last post that Steve Ipsen's much vaunted "Federal Lawsuit" has indeed gone down the crapper.


After two weeks of trial, it took a Los Angeles federal jury less than 90 minutes to find that former DDA Steve Ipsen's allegations that District Attorney Steve Cooley had engaged in 'employment retaliation' and 'union busting' were wholly and utterly without merit. As a result, Ipsen and fellow litigant Hyatt Seligman will receive 'not one red cent,' and will likely face a substantial bill for costs. Equally, DA Steve Cooley emerges fully vindicated for the effective and appropriate action taken in the face of unacceptable conduct. 

As the trial entered its final phase, the rumor mill was rife with reports that any remote hope of a windfall multi-million dollar sympathy-based jury award had vaporized when Ipsen folded under cross-examination.

According to the LA Times, Ipsen's 'union busting' claim seemingly fell apart when his assertions that he was given poor reviews and transferred because of his union activities were roundly countered by evidence that  he 'was rude to his supervisor at the Inglewood office, comparing her to Jewish collaborators in Nazi Germany. At the same time, he was repeatedly late for work and court appearances, upsetting at least one judge.' the Times reported.

Court documents indicate that Ipsen then filed motions, perhaps to try to remedy the irreparable damage he inflicted on himself; the first was to fire his attorney - presumably so that he could present his own closing argument. The second was to fire the judge who Ipsen claimed was biased. Those motions were denied.

Seligman's claims were equally unsuccessful. On cross examination, evidence was presented that he was transferred because he had 'failed to act appropriately as a manager, making sexual references and using profanity during a meeting with his new subordinates. One prosecutor filed a complaint alleging that Seligman had created a hostile work environment. Eighteen months later, Seligman failed to report an allegation of workplace harassment when he heard that a prosecutor had used a racial slur when talking to a black secretary.' the Times reported. It is also understood that he had to admit that he liked the location of his transfer, that it was close to home, and that he had retained the same pay and grade as in his previous assignment.

Seligman told the Times that 'he disagreed with the verdict but would respect the jury's conclusion.' The Times reported that Ipsen 'released a statement after the verdict saying he would continue to fight the case in court.' Whether Ipsen was referring to a possible appeal of the verdict, or to litigation relating to his recent dismissal, is unclear. Sources indicate that the costs of an appeal would be substantial and that the chances of success are minimal.

Regardless of how Ipsen continues his vendetta against the administration, the current verdict will likely be welcomed by all who perceived Ipsen as non-representative of their concerns and as a selfish self-promoter. Many will be shocked to learn that even though Ipsen is no longer a Deputy District Attorney, he nevertheless remains an active ADDA Board Member. According to a comment posted by ADDA Past President Marc Debbaudt 'the ASFCME constitution [which apparently now controls the ADDA By Laws] says that until the termination is final after all remedies are exhausted in order to prevent an Administration from disrupting a board by a termination, he is entitled to stay on the Board. The way to overcome this is to get rid of AFSCME.' Debbaudt said.

Whether the solution is as Debbaudt says, to disengage from AFSCME, or for a demand for immediate board elections to oust Ipsen and others like him, will depend on how effective current ADDA President Donna McClay can be to assure all that the Ipsen era is over.

So far, McClay has done some good work in that direction. McClay's successful hosting of the recent DA Candidates' Forum was the first real sign that there is meaningful change at the helm. The ADDA website now has a new look - seemingly vanquishing that which prevailed under Ipsen and Seligman's tenure when the ADDA website looked more like the Unabomber's manifesto.

While the consignment of Ipsen's "Federal Lawsuit" to the crapper partially clears the dark clouds he cast over the ADDA and its claim to represent all DDAs, the damage he has done remains to be fully eradicated. It will take more than simply imploring members to become involved to rid the ADDA of Ipsen's toxic DNA. Removing Ipsen and his ilk would appear to be of paramount importance if the ADDA is to become truly representative of all DDAs.

.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish there were some clarification of the amount of members dues that have been wasted on this lawsuit. It is a disgrace that ddas paychecks are automatically deducted and that money goes to pay for Ipsen and Seligman to play Who wants to be a millionaire in Federal Court. I am glad they lost and hope some action will be taken to protect members dues.

Anonymous said...

No amount, none, of ADDA dues were spent on Hyatt or Ipsen in this lawsuit. In fact, no amount of dues were spent at all since the ADDA recovered $125,000.00 in settlement and an injunction. ~Marc Debbaudt~

Anonymous said...

I understand that the ADDA is on the line to pick up the costs of Ipsen and Seligman's lawyers and the considerable costs of this loss - way more than when Ipsen lost against Burke. The ADDA is also funding his wrongful termination lawsuit and judging by the evidence in this case, that will go down the same way. So for all the people who voted for the agency shop, you are paying dues for Ipsen. And for the even bigger number of people who did not bother to vote at all, shame on you.

Anonymous said...

You are totally wrong. The ADDA has no obligation whatsoever to pay the costs of this federal lawsuit. None. The ADDA did not hire or contract with or pay Seligman's and Ipsen's attorney anything, nor will they. They were privately retained. Nor has there been any discussion of the ADDA doing so. And, if there is ever such a discussion, I predict given the current Board's constitution that no such vote will likely prevail, assuming it is even seriously considered. As to the termination issue, there is no lawsuit as of this moment. There is an administrative hearing before ERCOM re Ipsen's termination. The Board reconsidered its decision to contribute up to $30,000.00 to Ipsen's attorneys, and instead is funding up to $30,000.00 to that portion of the hearing that addresses the ADDA's concerns re a termination of their founding president. It is generally not a good idea for a union to not assert itself when it's president is fired in part, and arguably, for his union activities. The amount may not reach $30,000.00 and I suspect that if it does it is highly unlikely that a vote to contribute more will prevail. But who knows. we are not there yet. if you are truly upset about the waste of dues monies, ask your Board Officers how much we have paid for AFSCME during the past three years and what we have received in exchange. Uh, we haven't bargained, so besides a few grievance hearings and a few mailers, how have you benefited?Also, I suspect we will be hearing more about how the current Federal verdict affects the ERCOM case. It may possibly narrow the issues and that may change everything. Finally, the solution to a Board that is not responsive to your complaints is an election. That does not seem to be happening. You should demand an election and support the candidates who agree with you. I'd like an election, and I will not be running.

~ Marc Debbaudt ~

Anonymous said...

Thanks Marc for the info. If ADDA did not pay for Ipsen and Seligmans lawyers, then I guess AFSCME did, in which case the ADDA will have to make good on that like they did with the Burke case, right?

Anonymous said...

According to the information so far, the ADDA (allegedly) is not responsible for prevailing party legal fees or costs. But what about Seligman's and Ipsen's fees? They both had lawyers and incurred costs.

They lost and they're not getting squat from the county. This case has gone on for years. Anyone with any experience in this area knows this was (at least) over a hundred thousand in expenses. Were Seligman and Ipsen fronting the money (yeah right)? Were those lawyers working on a contingent fee basis? If so, that was some bad planning.

Anonymous said...

There have been many of questions. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, this is scholarly analysis of what happened in the jury room in a 90 minute verdict:

First 15 minutes - Bathroom break and, if there is a cute girl on the jury, all the guys try to sit next to her. Some lawyer jokes are made.

Second 15 minutes - Bitch about Lakers.

Third 15 minutes - More jokes and guys who didn't get to sit next to cute girl try to flirt with her. Someone raises the problem of who is going to be the foreperson.

Fourth 15 minutes - Cheapskates on jury check one last time with Bailiff to see if meals/donuts are provided. A foreperson gets elected.

Fifth 15 minutes - Brief discussion about case and people with unpaid jury service push for a vote, noting that they have put up with this crap for over an hour.

Sixth 15 minutes - Foreperson scratches his/her head as people with unpaid jury service try to help fore person figure out verdict forms. Guys on jury make one last play for the cute girl as she pretends to not have a cell phone number. Usually a round of jokes about losing litigants and their lawyers.

AND THAT takes care of the merits of the case!

Anonymous said...

10:15 AM Why do you care who paid as long as you didn't have too. Bad planning didn't account for a corrupt judge who's firm donated to Cooley.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This story really went under the radar. A Los Angeles jury failing to give a pair of losers a fistful of government money is a rare event in LA. These two really must have sucked.

Anonymous said...

Neither the ADDA nor AFSCME, to my knowledge, has paid, is paying or will pay for Ipsen and Seligman's privately contracted attorney's fees or costs in the Federal Lawsuit. Let me repeat this so there is no ambiguity. Neither the ADDA nor AFSCME, to my knowledge, has paid, is paying or will pay for Ipsen and Seligman's privately contracted attorney's fees or costs. If AFSCME has done so, they have done so in secret and not told anyone on the Board, but it is inconceivable that they would have had any reason to do so, and even less to keep it a secret. Why? And if the ADDA has done so, then it has been cleverly hidden by the Treasurer and not reflected in the Monthly Treasurer's report. Seligman and Ipsen's attorneys were privately retained and were probably handling the case per a contingency agreement or by an hourly agreement. I suppose that it is possible, to the extent that anything and everything is possible, that the ADDA or AFSCME can agree now to pay for these expenses, but I think that such an event is so highly unlikely and improbable that we will see unicorns carousing on the streets of our city first. As of this moment to my knowledge, they have not asked. Given the constituency of the current Board, I would predict that such an outcome is virtually inconceivable. I understand that the jury decided that Ipsen and Seligman were engaged in protected activity but that the office did not engage in adverse employment practices with them. I deduce that the jury felt they were not given freeway therapy or a defacto demotion given that they remained in Grade IV equivalent assignments. I understand Seligman testified his transfer was close to home and he liked it at the Branch and Area office to which he was transferred. However, I was not there and not called as a witness so I don't know for sure. For what it is worth to you all, I'm sure very little, the two made a great sacrifice of their time and energy as Presidents of your union to attempt to advance and improve the working conditions of their fellow deputies, and they believed as many of us who were there know, that the Administration took actions to disrupt the formation and goals of the union specifically by transferring them. I admire them for their efforts and commitment to their fellow deputies. Whatever you speculate their personal motivations were for doing so, to me, is irrelevant, and the only important thing that they actually spent enormous time trying to make a difference for all deputies. The jury, to my knowledge, did not find that what they were saying was not true, only that the actions taken by the Administration were permit-able and not adverse practices, in other words, that the Administration had a right to transfer them not that it was right to do so. But I'm just splitting hairs. I just don't believe that Ipsen and Seligman deserve the hate that is expressed here. Finally, the current Board majority is expressly optimistic about a new relationship with the New Administration and has already engaged in outreach toward Lacey who, as they have informed the Board, is quite receptive. So, it looks like a hopeful new year, and the general buzz is that the new supervisors and recent promotions are generally a positive sign! But, hell, don't let that keep you all from hating during this season of Love.

~ Marc Debbaudt ~

Anonymous said...

Debbaudt you hit the nail on the head, we all need to tone down the hyperbolic rhetoric. The new DA has reached out and many in the current board have expressed a willingness to work with her, even (with the hearty support of membership) extending the current MOU, a move you thoroughly trashed.

We all need to tone it down and work together. It's karma. If you want to know why this board lit up at Ipsen and Seligman's misfortune you need only look at some of the vicious stuff that's emanated from the board (and yourself) in the past.

But you are right. It's a new day and, fitting for the celebration of Christmas, a season of hope and change. Let's give each other the gift of patience, understanding and cooperation.

Anonymous said...

Be the change you seek
-Gandhi

Anonymous said...

10:56 - Are you refering to "Ghandi" or the corrupt Judge Jay Ghandi that presided over this trial that currently recieves money from the law firm that donated to Cooley's AG campaign and failed to disclose this info? You are right, the LA Times failed to cover this and the corruption that continues. Ghandi is a magistrate who wants to be a federal court judge, no wonder why Debbaut couldn't testify. Ghandi wouldn't let him because Debbaut is to credible on the stand. This trial stank to high heaven in the seat where Cooley sat.

Anonymous said...

I still trash extending the MOU. Why are we a bargaining unit if we don't bargain? What are your dues being used for? Nothing.

If our decision is to wait and just hope that Lacey treats DDAs nice, and she just might, then we don't need to be a union. Let's decertify.

I think my logic is sound. why pay dues for nothing?That's continues to be my position.

And, please tell me, what vicious stuff has emanated from me?

~ Marc Debbaudt ~

Anonymous said...

12-26-2012 @ 10:26pm is a masterpiece in irony.

Anonymous said...

There's a reason why defense attorneys love DMV hearings and hate prop 115. You know this site has an archives. So all the comments about how the federal judge was gonna tear apart Lacey or cheapshots about her blood sugar are memorialized. So are the comments about even Dragnet being added to the injunction.

Anonymous said...

30,000 to Ipsen's lawyer? Debbaudt is right! Let's decertify!