INGLEWOOD – Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr.’s former executive assistant, who filed a lawsuit against the city and Butts alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2019, has been fined more than $8,000 and ordered to obey previous court orders regarding defense discovery requests.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lia Martin issued her directives on Tuesday against Melanie McDade-Dickens and her attorneys, saying the sanctions must be paid by July 27.
According to the defense’s court papers, McDade-Dickens sued for $12 million for retaliation in January 2021 after she was fired “for gross misconduct, including attempting to force a subordinate to cosign a personal loan and falsifying city records in 2019 relating to her home loan application.”
The City did not terminate any other employees employment related to the alleged fraud besides McDade.
After McDade-Dickens refused to provide substantive responses or produce any documents in response to the defense’s requests, the city filed a motion and in August 2020 the court ordered the plaintiff to turn over the relevant information supporting her claims in 30 days, according to the defense attorneys’ court papers.
“In response, plaintiff served supplemental responses that were incomplete and failed to comply with the basic requirements under the California Code of Civil Procedure” while also producing “just a handful of photocopied documents and cell phone screenshots that were blurry and, in many cases, impossible to read, and refused to comply with the court’s order,” the defense lawyers maintained in their court papers.
McDade-Dickens produced further incomplete information in response to a second court order in January 2022 and agreements by the city to give her more time to turn over the information were met with “more obfuscation and gamesmanship,” the defense attorneys argued in their court papers.
In their court papers, attorneys for McDade-Dickens denied any stalling in complying with the court orders, saying that after she obtained new lawyers, she had “complied with every single one of the city’s requests, and yet the city persists with its motion.”
According to the lawsuit, Butts used his “superior power and influence … to seduce a trusted city employee, Melanie McDade-Dickens, to become romantically involved with him.”
But after McDade-Dickens ended what was described as a consensual relationship, Butts, “acting every bit like a Black Donald Trump, targeting those who dare to rebuke him,” conspired with city Human Resources Director Jose Cortes and City Manager Artie Fields to ruin her career by retaliating against and ultimately firing the plaintiff from the job that she loved, the suit alleges.
McDade-Dickens met Butts in 2010 and volunteered to work on his mayoral campaign, the suit states. He initially asked her to serve as his office manager, but was so impressed by her knowledge and organizational skill that he promoted her to his inner circle of advisers as part of his strategy committee, the suit states.
After Butts was elected mayor in 2010, he invited McDade-Dickens to be his executive assistant.
“In the beginning Butts is nurturing, loving and supportive, both personally and professionally,” according to the suit.
However, the relationship eventually descended “into one of abuse, abuse of power and sexual harassment,” the suit alleges.
2UrbanGirls contributed to this report.