Wednesday May 16 2012
Ex-cop loses another round of appeals
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
Rick Eaton accused city manager, police chief of wrongful termination
A former Rocklin police sergeant?s wrongful termination case against the city may never see the inside of a courtroom. The U.S. District Court issued a judgment on Friday against Plaintiff Rick Eaton and in favor of defendants City of Rocklin, former Rocklin Police Chief Mark Siemens and former Rocklin City Manager Carlos Urrutia. The District Court agreed with the defendants that the original arbitrator William Riker?s recommended findings affirmed former Rocklin Police Sgt. Rick Eaton?s 2006 termination. The suit alleges Eaton was disciplined after he complained to management of alleged violations of law and criminal activity by the city and its employees, including a 2003 pizza-for-tickets program that rewarded officers for the number of red light violations they issued. The defendants? attorneys contend Eaton should have been terminated because he allegedly asked to see a female officer?s breasts after they had a conversation about her breast augmentation surgery. Eaton alleges equal protection issues since two other female officers, who claimed they were sexually harassed by another officer, were fired after grievances were filed. Attorney Bruce Scheidt said Eaton?s claim as a whistleblower was more like a war on the Rocklin Police Department. ?Mr. Eaton?s malicious comments against police management and repeated acts of insubordination were made in the context of a workplace power struggle as part of plaintiff?s personnel disputes and grievances with his employer,? Scheidt said. ?His comments were not directed at informing the public of any wrongdoing by the city. The District Court concluded that Eaton?s conduct caused actual disruption within the department and that further disruption was likely to occur absent Plaintiff?s removal from the department.? District Judge Morrison England Jr. cited a similar case that was finalized in January as the basis for this ruling. The case of White v. City of Pasadena, held an almost identical administrative proceeding was judicial in nature, thereby barring a similar law enforcement?s federal civil rights lawsuit. The case, which was decided four months ago, may be the basis for dispute when attorneys for Eaton file an appeal. Following Friday?s ruling, Eaton issued the following statement. ?There will be no war of words from this side, only an appeal,? Eaton said. If the case is dead, the city?s attorney anticipates recouping some of the expenses incurred during the seven-year legal battle. Urrutia retired in 2010; Siemens in March of last year.