Chula Vista Settles Discrimination Suit For $2.1 Million

The City of Chula Vista has settled a discrimination suit with a former deputy chief for $2.1 million. Deputy Chief James Garcia was fired in 2015 hours after the department learned he needed surgery on his neck.

Chief Garcia sued in San Diego County Superior Court for disability discrimination and age discrimination. Earlier this year a jury awarded him $1.2 million in damages. The additional $900,000 is reportedly to address some additional claims Chief Garcia had, plus cover interest, costs and attorneys fees.

The San Diego Union Tribune quoted City Attorney Glen Googins as saying “The city continues to believe that the fire chief (Jim Geering) acted within his rights when he released then Deputy Fire Chief Garcia, an “at will” employee, as part of his reorganization of that department,” but that the settlement was made to end what he referred to as “expensive and disruptive litigation.”

Here is earlier coverage of the case.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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