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Judge denies Burbank's request to throw out former police officer's lawsuit

May 09, 2013

A judge on Wednesday denied Burbank's request to throw out a lawsuit filed by a former police officer who claims he was fired in retaliation for exposing alleged misconduct by his colleagues.

The attorney for former officer Pete Allen hailed the judge’s decision, calling the city’s motion an “attempt to stall and delay justice.”

City officials say they plan to appeal the ruling.

Allen claims he was fired in retaliation for exposing alleged officer misconduct during an investigation into a robbery at Porto’s Bakery in 2007.

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The city argued Allen was fired for lying during a previous investigation into the robbery, but he contends he withheld the information out of fear after receiving threats by his colleagues and superiors to keep quiet about what he saw, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.

The city in March had submitted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit under a state law that protects the rights of employees to participate in free speech, arguing that Allen is trying to hold the city liable for an internal investigation — which is protected under law — that resulted in his firing.

But Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Donna Fields Goldstein said Wednesday that the city presented a “persuasive argument,” but that ultimately she was not convinced.

“I don’t think you’ve reached the threshold that this impacts the city’s rights,” Fields Goldstein said in court.

The next court date is slated for June 17, during which Allen’s attorney, Brian Claypool, plans to request a trial date.

Claypool said he also plans to go after attorney’s fees by asking a judge to deem the city’s motion to dismiss the case as being “frivolous.”

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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