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Appellate Court Hearing This Month in City Manager Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

The wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the City of Alameda by a former Interim City Manager is proceeding in the appellate court.

The wrongful termination lawsuit filed against the City of Alameda by a former Interim City Manager is proceeding in the appellate court.

Later this month, the California Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate District, will hear arguments in the wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant against the City of Alameda.

In late December, 2010, Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam, Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, and then-councilmember Robert Bonta, now a state assembly representative, voted to oust Ann Marie Gallant from her role as Interim City Manager. In the week that followed, sources described the machinations at City Hall as a “Stalinist purge.”

Ms. Gallant filed a lawsuit against the City of Alameda in August of 2011, claiming that she was wrongfully terminated, and that she was the victim of revenge, after publicly outing Lena Tam for violations of the Brown act.

Subsequently, the City of Alameda moved to strike down the lawsuit under so called Anti-SLAPP statutes, claiming that the council’s actions were protected speech.

The City lost that round in November of the same year, but appealed the decision to the higher court.

Attorney’s for the City of Alameda filed their opening breif in February of 2012, and Gallant’s attorney’s responded in March of the same year.

A filing error by attorney’s for the City of Alameda in August of last year seems to have contributed to the long delay in the court hearing the appeal; oral arguments are now scheduled for May 23rd, at 9:00 a.m. at the court in San Francisco.

By taking the anti-SLAPP approach, attorney’s for the City are trying to head-off a hearing of Gallant’s complaint on its merits. They are arguing that lower court’s denial of their request for dismissal is entitled to a fresh look from the appellate court, and they continue to assert that City Council’s actions in late 2010 were protected speech.

Gallant’s lawyers are persisting in their argument that the decision to terminate her and place her on administrative leave were actions that do not constitute protected speech. Their filing repeats the assertions that Councilmember Lena Tam was leading confidential information to SunCal and the firefighters union in violation of the Brown act, and that to continue to negotiate with SunCal and the union at that time would have aided Tam “in her illegal conduct.”

She was placed on leave and terminated for refusing to participate in illegal negotiations and for reporting the information leaks, Gallant says.

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