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Police association says it won't sue city

Union president says it will 'pursue all its options' but has no plans for legal action after Costa Mesa declines to pay its legal bill in suit brought by councilmen.

November 21, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck

The Costa Mesa Police Officers Assn. doesn't plan to sue the city after officials denied its claim asserting that the municipality is responsible for the union's legal fees.

The association had sought indemnification from the legal costs of defending itself from a lawsuit by two councilmen that alleges the union was part of a plan to harass and intimidate them for political gain.

A claim against a municipality can be the first step in litigation, and although the association believes the City Council wrongfully denied the request Tuesday, association President Det. Sgt. Ed Everett said, "The association will pursue all of its options and at this point has no plans to sue the city."

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In August, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, Mayor Jim Righeimer and Righeimer's wife, Lene, filed a lawsuit alleging the police association, its former law firm and a private investigator plotted against the two councilmen to gain the upper hand in contract negotiations.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleges the defendants placed a GPS tracker on Mensinger's truck and tailed him to a bar from which a private investigator then followed Righeimer home and called 911 to report a possible DUI. A responding Costa Mesa police officer determined Righeimer was free of any impairment.

Mensinger's attorney says the councilman learned of the GPS device only when the Orange County district attorney revealed it to him as part of an investigation into Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir, which is known for representing police associations throughout the state, including Costa Mesa's.

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Association allows search

The CMPOA has turned over documents and consented to a search as part of the investigation, according to the organization's president.

"The police association has cooperated with the district attorney," Everett said.

FBI and the district attorney's investigators reportedly raided Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir's offices in October.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney did not return a call for comment.

Costa Mesa's police association fired Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir around the time of the DUI call incident last year and has denied any knowledge of the firm's allegedly aggressive tactics.

Everett argues that the police officer who responded to the private investigator's 911 call was only performing his job's normal duties, something the city would be obligated to defend.

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