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  1. #1
    Willowdared's Avatar
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    Police officer wins harassment suit

    Police officer wins harassment suit

    By Ray Huard
    STAFF WRITER

    February 12, 2007

    A San Diego police officer has won a $900,000 judgment against a La Jolla man for repeatedly harassing her – the second time she has successfully sued him.

    This time, traffic Officer Dona Loshonkohl Hufford prevailed because James Kinder showed up and stared at her as she cradled her dying boyfriend in her arms after a traffic accident. Hufford has had a restraining order against Kinder since 2002.

    “If it was that one isolated event, there would be nothing wrong with it,” said Hufford's lawyer, Dan Zeidman. “You look at the historical perspective, this was the culmination of a chain of events.”
    The case, decided last month, is one of the rare instances in which San Diego police officers have sued members of the public.

    Kinder's animosity toward Hufford dates to 1998, when Hufford was part of a police team trying to clean up Midtown, Zeidman said. The team impounded and cited illegally parked cars.

    Kinder, the owner of a rental car agency, argued with Hufford after he got 26 citations.

    Then, he began filing complaints against her – most suggesting she was harassing him.

    Hufford sued Kinder in 2001 for harassment. Internal police investigators and a Superior Court jury found Kinder's complaints to be baseless. The jury awarded her $350,000. The judge overseeing the case, William Howatt, wrote: “The plain and simple truth is that not one of Kinder's complaints was a legitimate and honestly made complaint.”

    Hufford and Kinder declined to be interviewed for this story.

    In the most recent incident, an El Cajon Superior Court jury found that Hufford was subjected to “outrageous” behavior from Kinder on April 15, 2003.

    Hufford's boyfriend, fellow police Officer Gerald Griffin, had stepped into the street to wave over a driver for speeding on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach when he was hit by a car.

    Hufford arrived moments later and ran to Griffin's aid. She held him and waited for paramedics to arrive. Glancing up, she saw Kinder staring at her from across the street.

    Kinder said in court documents that he routinely walks along Garnet Avenue and approached the crash “to comfort” the driver of the car that struck Griffin. He said that Hufford arrived after he did and that he was unaware that Griffin was Hufford's boyfriend.

    Hufford, in her lawsuit, contended that Kinder's presence was not accidental but part of a pattern of harassing behavior in which he would follow her and show up at her work.

    The jury found that Kinder acted “with reckless disregard” to the likelihood that Hufford would “suffer emotional distress” at the sight of him near the accident scene.

    “The whole idea of this was to stop his behavior, and I'm hoping this will do it,” Zeidman said.

    Kinder said in court documents that police have ganged up on him because he “has had the audacity to call into question their practices and proceedings.”

    A former lawyer, Kinder represented himself in court, though he hasn't practiced since 1975, according to state records.

    Court battles between Kinder and Hufford might not be over.

    Kinder appealed the 2001 judgment, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict, and the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear it. Kinder has filed a new appeal in federal court.

    Last year, Kinder paid Hufford $515,054 – the amount of the original verdict plus interest, Zeidman said.

    It is rare for San Diego police officers to sue members of the public for harassment, said Bill Nemec, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association.

    In December 1995, Officer Bill Farrar collected $33,000 as a settlement of a slander suit he filed in 1993 against a La Jolla woman he had arrested for drunken driving.

    The woman complained to Farrar's superiors that he had roughed her up and acted unprofessionally. A videotape of the arrest showed otherwise.

    In March 1997, a San Diego police officer lost a small-claims lawsuit against a woman who had filed a complaint claiming that he had mistreated her and wrongly arrested her for being drunk in public.

    Officer Paul Rorrison was one of two officers who drove the woman from a rock concert at the former San Diego Sports Arena to a downtown detoxification center Oct. 28, 1995. Rorrison sued the woman for filing a false complaint.

    A small claims magistrate denied Rorrison's $5,000 claim. He ruled that Rorrison hadn't been damaged because an internal police investigation cleared Rorrison and officers should expect to have some complaints filed against them as part of their job.
    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

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  2. #2
    Piggybank Cop's Avatar
    Piggybank Cop is offline Nobody important.
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    HOO-RAH!

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    And no you can't have any.

  3. #3
    Willowdared's Avatar
    Willowdared is offline Bendy not Breaky
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1sgkelly View Post
    HOO-RAH!

    I know, I knew when I read this that I had to post it - nice to be on the winning side for a change!
    Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.

    Do not puff, shade, skew, tailor, firm up, stretch, massage,
    or otherwise distort statements of fact.
    FBI Special Agent Coleen Rowley

  4. #4
    Trojan 42's Avatar
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    Good result. Although I think, if that guy had been harrasssing one of my old colleagues, we would probably have had a chat with him while off duty, to explain the error of his ways.
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