Lougheed lawyers move for partial judgment and add complaint to discrimination lawsuit against city

Lawyers for police officer Kristi Lougheed have filed a motion for partial summary judgment and a supplemental complaint for damages and relief in an ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit against the City of Aberdeen.

Lougheed, the lone female police officer working for the Aberdeen Police Department, is suing for back wages and damages. Depositions in the case wrapped up recently. Partial summary judgment motions can be filed after depositions are completed.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 22, before Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge David Edwards. The City of Aberdeen has until Aug. 1 to file a response.

Lougheed’s lawyers claim essential facts in the patrol officer’s original complaint against the city are undisputed, are supported by depositions taken in the case and therefore a partial summary judgment is appropriate. Damages would be considered and awarded later, probably by a jury, if Lougheed’s case prevails, lawyers said.

Counselors for Lougheed, Victoria L. Vreeland of Vreeland Law in Seattle and Erik M. Kupka of Ingram, Zelasko & Goodwin in Aberdeen, filed the motion and complaint. Jeffrey A. O. Freimund of Freimund Jackson & Tardif in Olympia represents Aberdeen.

The motion for partial summary judgment argues “it is undisputed that Lougheed has been paid a lower salary than those hired with less experience, and a lower salary than similarly situated male police officers performing substantially similar work.” A chart is included in the motion that demonstrates that case.

Police Chief Bob Torgerson violated city and police department policies and he “repeatedly testified ‘the consideration that I give and the only consideration is what [the lateral hires] were making at their last job prior to me — or the last agency they were working at prior to coming to Aberdeen,’ ” according to the motion.

“It was not valid under law and not consistent,” explained Vreeland on Monday.

“… The Chief did not consistently follow the same practice in setting the starting salaries for males. The city has no legitimate business reason or defense under law,” the motion states. Depositions by Human Resources Director Debbie Lund and Deputy Chief Dave Timmons confirm the standard was inconsistently applied, the motion states.

Lougheed’s original complaint was filed in October of last year. Lougheed worked for 14 years as a deputy for the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office and for a year as a police officer for the Cosmopolis Police Department. She was hired by Aberdeen in June of 2010.

If the court grants the motion for partial summary judgment, issues still outstanding include economic damages for incidents outlined in the original and additional complaints which allege humiliation and retaliation suffered by Lougheed in addition to the economic disparity, Vreeland said.

If the motion for partial summary judgment is not granted, then full evidence will be presented at a full trial, she said.

Asked whether he plans to file a corresponding motion or other reply on behalf of the city for partial summary judgment, Freimund said “I’d rather not publicize the city’s planning at this point.”

Further allegations

In the supplemental complaint, Lougheed’s attorneys allege that after the lawsuit was filed, copies of the complaint and requests for discovery were inappropriately disseminated throughout the police department in posting and emails.

Materials about the case posted in officers’ personal break areas were not removed until Dec. 23, “only upon written demand by plaintiff’s legal counsel,” the complaint claims.

“The postings and notices included far more information than was necessary in order for the city to reasonably respond to plaintiff’s discovery requests,” the complaint alleges. They were done without knowledge or direction by Lund and are contrary to the personnel rules of the city, the complaint further claims.

The complaint alleges Lougheed was wrongly passed up for temporary officer in charge duties permitted for patrol officers when a sergeant or corporal is not available. The suit claims she was “informed that there would be no more temporary (officer in charge) assignments,” on or about Nov. 10 of last year, though the program continued.

She was singled out for counseling on a case in February and received a letter of reprimand in March and neither was legitimate or valid, the complaint claims.

“As a result and proximate cause of such unlawful act or acts, (Lougheed) has been injured and is entitled to recover all damages sustained in an amount to be proven at trial,” the supplemental complaint alleges.

A response to the supplemental complaint isn’t required unless the judge requests one, said Freimund, who declined to make other comment.

Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, ehart@thedailyworld.com. Twitter: @DW_Erin


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