Judge: Women’s complaint against Sheriff’s Department must be refiled

By From page A1 | January 14, 2011

The female plaintiffs suing the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department on charges of discrimination must refile their complaint, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Federal Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. informed Douglas Watts, the attorney representing the four females suing the department, that the complaints lack the “necessary information to place defendants on proper notice and to give them adequate ability to respond” and gave him until the end of the month to refile the allegations.

Former deputy Tanya Hunt initially filed her complaint in June 2010, while community services officers Nicole Sahaj-Myers, Jona Scher and Stacie Walls filed their own case a month later.

Hunt and Scher were terminated by the department in Decemeber. Sahaj-Myers also received a letter of intent to terminate her employment from then-Sheriff Fred Kollar, but that decision has since been reversed.

Judge Damrell, in his most recent order, told Watts to make the next complaint against the department “simple, concise and direct.”

In urging the attorney to submit a more straightforward complaint, Damrell ordered Watts to craft one “so that judges and adverse parties need not try to fish a gold coin from a bucket of mud.”

This is the second time Watts must refile the two complaints. He previously amended the complaints in October 2010, according to court documents.

The attorney was given 20 days from the judge’s Jan. 10 ruling to amend and re-submit the complaints.

Also Monday, the judge vacated the  motions to dismiss the charges filed on behalf on the case’s defendants, many of whom are senior members of the Sheriff’s Department.

Watts, in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat, considered the order only a minor setback.

“I have to tell you that this is all much ado about nothing,” he wrote. “Judge Damrell’s rulings did not dismiss any individual supervisor defendants.”

Ed Knapp, county counsel’s chief assistant, said he could not comment on the specifics of the cases because both involve personnel actions.

But Knapp did say the county is confident that “what will emerge during the course of the litigation will not be what the plaintiffs have been portraying.”

Nicole Sahaj-Myers, one of the plaintiffs, told the Democrat she is ready for the case to go to trial but understands the judge’s decision.

“I have no control over it,” she said. “It won’t really change the outcome. It just makes the process last longer and it will make indecencies open to the public for review. It does cause more stress and anxiety, but it’s part of the suit.”

E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5071.

Jim Ratajczak

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