STOCKTON — A federal judge has denied motions from San Joaquin County to overturn a jury’s award of more than $2 million to a former investigator at the District Attorney’s Office.
A civil jury in April found that District Attorney James Willett retaliated against former employee Janis Trulsson when he passed on her for a chief position after she had complained of discrimination.
Among other arguments, the county asserted that Trulsson was not in a protected position — she had been laid off — when Willett appointed someone else to the job she wanted.
Trulsson, an ex-assistant chief investigator, alleged the agency promoted a culture of gender discrimination and that she was targeted after she stood up for a female colleague, Mary Aguirre.
U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller rendered her decision to uphold the jury’s verdict on Monday, saying that the jury’s findings were reasonable.
“The court’s conclusion that a jury could reasonably have found for plaintiff is further supported by the fact that plaintiff effectively called into question the credibility of the county’s witnesses, Willett and former head of investigations Larry Ferrari, on several occasions during trial,” Mueller’s court order states.
“Willett was evasive and was caught in contradictions several times,” the order says. “Similarly, Ferrari was impeached in response to the question whether plaintiff had conveyed information to him about her concerns of discriminatory treatment toward Aguirre.”
Willett is expected to retire at the end of his term in January for what he has said are unrelated reasons.