CASE: Jose Verdusco v. Andy Mar, County of San Mateo
Assault, False Imprisonment, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED), Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED), and Civil Rights Violation (Civil Code Section 51.7, Freedom from Violence under Ralph Civil Right Act).
SETTLEMENT. $415,000 paid by defendants as follows:
$215,000.00 from County of San Mateo
$200,000.00 from Andy Mar (including $50,000 from State Farm Ins. Co.)
Todd P. Emanuel, Emanuel Law Group, Redwood City, CA.
Sandra Nierenberg, County Counsel, Redwood City, CA (defendant County of San Mateo)
Grant Winter, Mastagni Holstedt, APC, Sacramento, CA (defendant Andy Mar)
Randy Hess, Adelson Hess et al., Campbell, CA (coverage counsel for defendant Andy Mar)
Curtis Metzgar, Wade & Lowe, Ontario, CA (for State Farm Ins. Co.)
FACTS AND ALLEGATIONS:
The incident occurred inside a courtroom at the San Mateo County Hall of Justice on April 13, 2015. Court was not in session. The plaintiff, a courthouse custodian, was speaking with the courtroom clerk and the court reporter when defendant Andy Mar, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the courtroom as a bailiff, entered. According to the plaintiff, immediately before the incident, the parties were discussing two recent police brutality incidents, one in San Bernadino, California and another in Charleston, South Carolina. Plaintiff claimed that Mar, without warning or provocation, suddenly un-holstered his loaded duty firearm and aimed it at the plaintiff’s head for approximately five seconds. Plaintiff alleged that while Mar aimed the firearm at plaintiff’s head, he said in a menacing tone, “Do you want some South Carolina Justice?”
Mar admitted that he unholstered his firearm in the courtroom, but he contended that he pointed the firearm at a spot on a wall located about four feet to the left of the plaintiff rather than at the plaintiff’s head. Mar also denied uttering any threatening words.
The plaintiff reported the matter to his Human Resources Department and the matter was reported to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s deputies interviewed the plaintiff, but they failed to take any notes and did not generate police report. Plaintiff was later advised that the sheriff’s office would not commence a criminal investigation, but that the deputy would be immediately reassigned to a different position away from the courthouse.
On April 14, 2015 plaintiff reluctantly came to work believing that Mar had been reassigned away from the courthouse. Plaintiff was eating in the courthouse cafeteria when he saw Mar with his hand on his holster staring at the plaintiff. Plaintiff felt retraumatized. He left work that day and never returned. Several months later, plaintiff found a comparable job with a new employer.
When a sheriff’s office sergeant came to relieve Mar of his duties for the day, Mar spontaneously said, “I know why you are here. I did it.” The plaintiff reported the case directly to the District Attorney’s office and the District Attorney’s office conducted an independent criminal investigation. Eventually, the District Attorney charged Mar with one misdemeanor count of brandishing a weapon in violation of Penal Code Section 417. A criminal jury found Mar not guilty of the offense.
The plaintiff sought civil remedies for past wage loss, future wage loss, and general damages for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Plaintiff claimed he was an unusually susceptible plaintiff because several years earlier he sustained a gunshot wound from a drive-by shooting, and he had been shot during a separate event.