COUNTY PREVAILS IN LAWSUIT FILED BY DEPARTMENT HEAD ROY TORRES

COUNTY PREVAILS IN LAWSUIT FILED BY DEPARTMENT HEAD ROY TORRES

Doña Ana County has prevailed in a lawsuit filed by one of its department heads, following a summary judgment by United States Magistrate Judge Leslie Smith.
Roy V. Torres, head of the county’s General Services Department, filed a lawsuit against the county in 1998 alleging that he suffered discrimination based on his age and national origin. The county argued that Torres suffered no discrimination when he was placed on paid administrative leave by a prior county manager, pending an investigation into various allegations of malfeasance by a public official.
“Judge Smith’s decision vindicates the county’s position that discipline in this case was carried out fairly and according to policy and procedure,” said County Manager Fernando R. Macias. “The decision also should send a clear message to all government employees that unless their case is based on substantive allegations, the taxpayers will not be asked to pay damages.”
Judge Smith’s original decision on Dec. 3, 1999, ordered Torres to pay all costs incurred by the county in fighting the lawsuit. The county, however, agreed on Jan. 31, 2000, not to seek attorneys fees or arbitration costs in return for Torres’ promise that he would not appeal the dismissal.
“Although the county legal staff spent a good deal of time on this case and we certainly could have pressed for restitution of legal fees and costs, we believed it best to close the entire matter with agreement by both parties,” Macias said. “As the old saying goes, discretion is the better part of valor. In this case, we opted to move forward with the important work of the county and put this frivolous litigation behind us.”