Jury Awards San Diego Firefighters $34,300 in Harrassment Suit

firefighterstwoThey didn’t deserve a penny, but a San Diego jury awarded the four San Diego firefighters who filed a sexual harassment suit against the San Diego Fire Department after being assigned to drive the fire truck along last year’s San Diego Pride Parade route, $34,300 for their troubles. They had originally asked for $1,000,000 each.

The San Diego Union-Tribune writes:

” Jurors deliberated for about two-and-a-half days before reaching the verdict Tuesday in the case brought by firefighters John Ghiotto, Jason Hewitt, Alex Kane and Chad Allison. The firemen said they were subjected to sexually charged conduct and lewd comments while riding a fire engine in the July 2007 parade.

City attorneys said they will appeal the verdict.

Jurors were required to determine if the firefighters faced pervasive or severe harassment from spectators and participants.

Nancy Chiquete, the jury foreperson, said reaching the decision was “not easy,” particularly because she said she lives in the city and knows its financial situation is not good.

But, Chiquete said, “I felt truly like these four men were wronged by the situation.” The case was first heard in September but that jury was unable to reach a verdict on the sexual harassment claim…

The firefighters’ attorney, Charles LiMandri, said he and his clients were pleased.

“We won on every issue. This is what we’ve been fighting for. It’s what we’ve been working for. It’s been what we’ve been hoping for,” LiMandri said.

He acknowledged that the awarded damages were low, but said that wasn’t surprising given the poor state of the economy. “

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  • Tallskin

    So, these poor homophobic firemen have been rewarded for their homophobia?

    Someone pinch me and wake me up, cos I think I have just fallen through the mirror into an alternative universe.

  • Sebbe

    Luckily all of the “awards” will go to the attorney since it is such a small amount. While I don’t agree with the decision, Nancy Chiquete’s logic (the financial picture of the city) in deciding the amount with her co-jurors is not really the way it is supposed to work. Just saying in regards to situations where it is on our side.

    “We won on every issue. This is what we’ve been fighting for. It’s what we’ve been working for. It’s been what we’ve been hoping for,” – oh please

  • Joan

    Ya know, if these guys are so fragile regarding “sexually charged conduct and lewd behavior” they should be asking for a transfer out of the Hillcrest station. Maybe they’d like Barrio Logan or National City better.

  • Alexa

    And you know these poor sexually harassed firefighters would be the first to sexually harass any female firefighters unfortunate enough to work with them.

  • gurlene

    I wonder why all the silence from that fraud and opportunist of a Gov. out there about this? California can’t even issue refund checks to it’s citizens and he has nothing to say about this?

    Yes I called him a fraud and opportunist because as soon as it was clear he and not some other lame republican had a chance to win the governorship the black-outs that were already taking place increased 10 fold thanks to Ken Lay (whose “sudden” death from a heart attack I question). Any and everybody who voted that washed up jerk (his last 3 movies sucked so bad I bet you can’t even name them) into office is getting just what they deserve.

    The first one on the left in the picture looks like a former Dirk Yates performer.

  • Sebbe

    They are all tragically unattractive and overweight. I have a hard time believing specifically that the last one had people swooning over him, with his circa 1980s mustache’.

  • kevin (not that one)

    Poor things! I just hope they never find themselves in the situation of a gay man or lesbian making a decision that will save their life.

  • Jaroslaw

    Is that $34,300 total or each? And does anyone exactly know what Ms. Chiquete meant by “these four men were wronged by this situation?”

    So an employer can’t ask any employee to do something they personally have “moral” issues with. Looks like 90% of people still working will be unemployed. Corporations steal from the third world, pollute the environment, cheat on taxes…. I work for the state and we assist unwed mothers which I think in most states unmarried sex is still illegal, which of course, you can prove in the hets case because there is a child! :0

    Seems some things will never change. Poor heterosexual firemen.

  • David

    @Sebbe The comment about the mustache seems to hit the nail on the head in my opinion.

  • illuman23

    @Jaroslaw: $34,300 total.

    I’m not really upset that they won. I’m just really glad that they didn’t get any more money. I do think the Gay Pride tends to bring out the worst in us gays. It is embarrassing to me that we let it all hang out for the world to see. There are a lot of people out there that are only exposed to the Gay community through these parades. Of course the news media usually broadcasts the most risque of floats (Bar floats and gogo boys), and ignores the positive participants (GLBT Centers, PFLAG moms and dads, Marrage Equality marchers, and community leaders).

    I get it that gays are from all walks of life, and are individuals first. I understand that we are all together in our struggle to bring equal rights. I just don’t know if these Pride Parades are as important as they were in the 70’s and 80’s. They seem less focused on “We’re here and we’re queer. Get used to it” and more on “Let’s get drunk and screw”

  • musicj48

    As a native San Diegan i am not shocked by this decision. Even though Hillcrest Pride (SD County Pride) is one of the largest in the state, we still harvest a large intolerance for the gay community. You can just look at the percentages rates from San Diego votes on Proposition 8, overwhelmingly high.

    I would like to quote an op-ed response i read in the paper earlier this week.

    “As a women, I have faced catcalls and uninvited advances from heterosexual men many times, Should i sue each one?”

    This, to me, sums up the entire instance. If this was just another case of heterosexual vs. heterosexual it would never see the light of day in the court system. Since it involved heterosexual vs homosexual, it gets multiple media coverage and, not surprisingly, awards for the heterosexual community.

    Give the fact California has yet to pass a state budget, how can we afford to reward such behavior. It just perpetuates the cycle of a Second-Class Citizenry.

  • Jaroslaw

    GREAT POINT MusicJ48! – if every woman who had a catcall sued, the courts would be doing nothing else!

    And I know someone will say yet again “but they were forced to be in the parade by their employer” to which I again say every job has its requirements and Firefighters serve the entire community, not just the part they personally like and/or agree with.

  • Sebbe

    @Jaroslaw – you are not suggesting that in some states unmarried consensual sex is illegal are you?

    @musicj48 – the California budget (or lack thereof) has no bearing on a case of law. Even more so considering that they were not suing the state of California.

    That said. This case is a joke and I hope it goes all the way to the state supreme court and is overturned. I have a feeling that with such a small monetary award that if the defense pursues this, the firefighters will not choose to fund this initiative. Also, what a disgrace to firefighters everywhere, who I hold in high regards, since seriously who wants to do what they do for what they get paid.

  • Jaroslaw

    Absolutely Sebbe, that is what I’m saying. The laws are seldom enforced but they’re on the books. Unless what I have been reading is incorrect. You know, like those humorous books of antiquated laws like it’s illegal to walk a horse on the boardwalk wearing a red ribbon on the fourth tuesday of the months….

    My own city charter talked about the requirements for our City Hospital, which has been closed for decades. Yet the City charter was just updated about 5 years ago. Stuff like that.

  • Sebbe

    @jaroslaw – I see what you mean, but I swear that was covered in a supreme court case that also delt with interracial marriage, I can’t remember which case it was, but for some reason I believe is was against the state of Florida.

  • alan brickman

    its a very small amount and sends the message don’t expect to become “millionaires” from this issue to the others…I’m sure their lawyer bills will eat it up…

  • alan brickman

    2nd guy from the left will be posing naked to reassert his hetrosexuality soon I’m sure

  • Sebbe

    @alan – LMFAO, right after he’s done blowing the younger one in front of him.

  • gurlene

    @Sebbe: Ii was the state of Va. The black woman died last year.

  • Russ


    That alternate universe you speak of is called America, where the judicial system entertains frivolous lawsuits like this one. On your way home tonight grab a coffee from mcDonalds, drive with it on your lap, and when you get 3rd degree burns hire a lawyer.

  • Jaroslaw

    Sebbe – Well as you know our laws are a hodgepodge. I think there was a case in Connecticut which had a law struck down which prohibited birth control from being sold to unmarried couples.

    You’re the lawyer, though, so explain – SCOTUS overturned Bowers with Lawrence in 2003 which invalidated sodomy laws in all the states. But each state can still charge someone with sodomy since their laws are still on the books; then the case winds its way through the legal system and then is found invalid because of Lawrence. However, at great inconvenience of time & expense to the defendant. right?

  • Sebbe

    @Jaroslaw – There’s actually two interesting cases, Griswold (which the underlying legal result and opinion is primarily the Privacy intent of the constitution). The Griswold case is cited in Roe v. Wade AND in the case of the second case Eidenstad (sp?), which was actually a Massachusetts case. While the result of the Griswold decision by the court is the legal reasoning used in the Eidenstad case, in regards to what your referring to I believe it is the Mass case in which the prohibition of contraceptives to those that are unmarried was ruled in violation of the EPC of the Constitution.

    I won’t go to deep into the legalities of it here, and will admit that constitutional law is not my area of expertise. But, I will remind you that our judicial system is far from perfect. Furthermore, we have a common law system as opposed to a civil law system. As is such, “legally” speaking it is not necessary to “remove” these laws from the books since our system relies on jurisprudence. Although they should and often are invalided by later statues.

    In regards to the great inconvenience of time & expense to the defendant, agree, but again, nobody ever said that was the intend of our system or that it was perfect (far from it). In fact, one might argue that laws are written by lawyers (legislators who often are trained lawyers), who’s primary objective might not be to reduce the amount of cases flooding the legal system, both criminally and civilly.

    EPC = equal protection clause

  • Sebbe

    Oh and Bowers & Lawrence both rely heavily on the Griswold case as well as the Eidenstad (sp?) case as well.

  • Pragmatist

    Well, hmph. I know that the alleged damages are totally bogus and that the plaintiffs just brought this suit as a way to get some money and possibly clear their names, but…

    The truth is, I think they were legally entitled to win on these facts. An employer just can’t go around requiring employees to be exposed to sexually suggestive conduct of any stripe. At least not when the job description doesn’t contemplate that sort of thing (and here it doesn’t — they’re firefighters, not strippers or club promoters or adult entertainment figures).

  • Justin


    Wow! That is a pretty outrageous and unfounded statement. Just pretend the circumstances were identical but a woman, minority, or a homosexual brought forth the complaint. These guys have been unfairly vilified for doing what????? Oh yeah, they were doing EXACTLY what we applaud so many other protected groups for doing on a daily basis: Bringing to light an injustice in the workplace. How ridiculous for so many people (and the idiotic City Attorney) to say it was “no big deal” or it “only lasted a few hours.” I guess with that logic, a woman being sexually assaulted is not a big issue if it only lasts a short amount of time? Pretty ridiculous right??? Let’s be consistent.

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