BEVERLY HILLS—Honorable Judge Elizabeth R. Feffer of the Los Angeles Superior Court overturned a jury verdict that awarded damages to former Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant, Shan Davis.
During a trial last summer, Davis and three other plaintiffs: Lt. Michael Foxen, Lt. Renato Moreno and civilian manager Donna Norris, alleged discrimination, retaliation and harassment by Beverly Hills Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli. The four plaintiffs each worked for the Beverly Hills Police Department for over 20 years.
The plaintiffs alleged that Spagnoli harassed them in regards to race, age and sexual orientation, and denied them job opportunities. One of the four plaintiffs alleged that the harassment resulted in gastrointestinal distress from stress, lack of sleep, and requested $2,000 to reclaim “lost assignment” time.
Davis was individually awarded $250,000 by the jury. On Friday, October 11, Judge Feffer ruled that there was no evidence to support the verdict, overruling the jury’s decision. She concluded that Davis did not prevail, would not be awarded any damages, and “a new judgment is entered in favor of the City of Beverly Hills.”
On July 9, after three days of deliberation, the jury awarded Lieutenants Michael Foxen, Shan Davis, Renato Moreno, and a civilian employee named Donna Norris $1.1 million. Lt. Moreno was awarded $350,000 while the other co-plaintiffs were awarded $250,000 each. Originally each plaintiff in the Moreno v. City of Beverly Hills case demanded more than $20 million to be awarded to them.
At least 21 current and former employees filed civil lawsuits or employee complaints against Chief Spagnoli. According to the lawsuit, Spagnoli reacted with disgust when she discovered that Norris was not heterosexual. She asked Lt. Moreno if she should “dress Mexican” for a party he invited her to.
The city of Beverly Hills paid $2.3 million in December 2018 to settle claims made by Captain Mark Rosen. Rosen accused Spagnoli of making anti-Semitic remarks about him and claims she denied him opportunity because of his religion. Both Lt. Foxen and Moreno said they were reprimanded by Spagnoli for giving statements that favored Rosen’s case.
City Attorney Laurence Wiener said that the granted motion was rare. The city of Beverly Hills also brought a similar motion against plaintiff Donna Norris which was not granted by the court.
“Although the jury found there was no discrimination as to each of the plaintiffs, they still concluded there was harassment based on several alleged comments the Chief made in 2016. The City disagreed with the jury’s finding these alleged statements rose to the level of harassment, particularly as concerned plaintiff Davis. Obviously, the judge agreed,” said Wiener.
Written By Alondra Arana and Casey Jacobs