LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Inglewood Mayor James Butts Jr.’s former girlfriend and executive assistant, who filed a lawsuit against the city and Butts alleging she was wrongfully fired in 2019, will have to attend a deposition and answer questions from defense attorneys, a judge ordered Monday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge Jr. said plaintiff Melanie McDade-Dickens must attend the deposition by March 15 and bring a specified set of documents sought by defense attorneys. Her lawsuit, brought in January 2021, currently alleges harassment and discrimination, failure to investigate and prevent sexual harassment, retaliation and a violation of the state Labor Code.
“Defendants contend that plaintiff’s testimony is critical to testing the truth of her claims because there are inconsistencies between plaintiff’s complaint in this action and (her state Department of Fair Employment and Housing) complaint,” the judge wrote.
In their court papers, lawyers for McDade-Dickens maintained it is “inherently unfair: for the defense to depose the plaintiff with documents she has never seen and that the defense motion thus amounted to `gamesmanship and wasting judicial resources.”‘
McDade-Dickens’ attorneys also maintained there was no rush to take the plaintiff’s deposition because no date for trial of the suit is scheduled.
Defense attorney Mira Hashmall thanked the judge for approving the deposition request.
“We’ve been trying to get the deposition for nearly a year, we appreciate your ordering that to happen,” Hashmall told Burdge.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Cameron A. Stewart told the judge her side plans to depose Butts. In the wake of the deposition plans, Burdge rescheduled a post- mediation status conference scheduled for March 1 to June 13.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff’s allegations concern the “disturbing actions of a scorned lover, who also happens to be the mayor of a burgeoning metropolis … who uses 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.
The city fired McDade-Dickens after allegations of fraud and criminal behavior came to its attention, according to Hashmall.