A judge on Tuesday pared in half a lawsuit by a former county lifeguard who alleged she was sexually harassed and injured during a dangerous exercise while being towed on a rescue sled and stalked in retaliation for complaining about how male colleagues were treating her.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer said a jury should decide whether Elizabeth Robbins was forced to work in a hostile work environment and whether she was followed by other lifeguards as punishment for having come forward. But the judge tossed her allegations of battery and a second sexual harassment cause of action that alleged gender violence.
Defense attorney Robert Murphy urged the judge to dismiss the entire complaint.
“There were no specific requests for sexual favors,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of disconnected facts thrown to see what sticks on the wall.”
Robbins filed the lawsuit in February 2012 against the county and a co-worker, David Carr, who she maintains was her supervisor. She alleges Carr came to her high school when she was 14 years old and tried to convince her to skip class so she could go with him.
Robbins began working in the lifeguard division of the county Fire Department in 2003 at age 19 and was assigned to various beaches, including Will Rogers State Beach, her suit states. Carr allegedly made inappropriate sexually oriented comments and “leered” at her, Robbins’ court papers state.
Carr also did not like seeing women in supervisory positions and resented Robbins for wanting to test for a promotion, according to her court papers.
Shortly after Robbins turned down an offer of a date by a friend of Carr’s, he asked her to accompany him on what he claimed was a training session on Aug. 4, 2011, her court papers state. He told her to ride on a rescue sled that he towed with his personal watercraft after dispatching himself on a call that actually was called off as a false alarm, according to her court papers.
But instead of driving safely at about 5 mph, Carr moved at about seven times that speed, causing Robbins to be injured when her head slammed against the sled, her court papers state.
“(Robbins) immediately feared that Car was trying to kill or paralyze her,” Robbins’ court papers state.
After the incident Carr and other supervisors told her to give false information about how and when she was hurt, her court papers state. But she decided to tell the truth about what happened, according to her court papers.
“After Robbins reported the incident and other harassment, she was stalked and intimidated by other department personnel,” her court papers state.
Robbins, who is on disability, states in her court papers that she has been afraid to leave her home since being injured during the sled incident.
“When I do I fell I am being followed and I believe Dave Carr and the bros who are his friends are trying to scare me into not coming back to work and/or not talking about what happened to me,” Robbins states in her court papers.
Robbins alleged her injuries from the sled incident amounted to a battery, but the judge disagreed and dismissed the allegation.
Trial of Robbins’ case is scheduled April 14.
— City News Service