A former Orange County Public Works director, who was fired following the arrest of ex-county executive and Santa Ana City Councilman Carlos Bustamante on groping charges, has dropped his wrongful termination lawsuit, according to court records obtained Monday.
Jess Carbajal, whose lawsuit against the county was about to go to trial last week, agreed to a settlement conference with an Orange County Superior Court judge on Thursday and then dropped his case, according to court records. It was not immediately clear why or what the terms of the settlement were.
A Nov. 6 hearing was set to formally dismiss the case, according to court records.
An attorney for Alisa Drakodaidis, the former deputy chief executive officer of public works who was also forced out following Bustamante’s arrest and is suing the county, said he was told by Carbajal’s attorney that his case was dismissed in exchange for a waiver of costs and a full release from liability.
Messages left with Carbajal’s attorneys, Michael Penn, Ashleigh Aitken and Wylie Aitken, were not immediately returned.
Drakodaidis’ lawsuit is set for trial in January, her lawyer said.
Carbajal was fired in July 2012. He received an anonymous complaint in March 2011 about “inappropriate behavior” by Bustamante, who ultimately pleaded guilty to victimizing five women during his job as director of administrative services in the public works department. He was sentenced in January 2016 to 364 days in jail.
Carbajal claimed he told then-county chief executive Tom Mauk about the complaint, as well as Drakodaidis and then-Human Resources Director Carl Crown. Carbajal claimed he was instructed to have internal HR manager Patricia Daniells investigate the claim, but he objected because that would mean she would have to investigate her own boss, according to court records.
County officials denied Carbajal was instructed to have Daniells investigate Bustamante. Carbajal claimed he was fired for objecting, but county officials denied that allegation.
–City News Service