Inglewood asks judge to throw out lawsuit from mayor’s ex-girlfriend, calls for $217,000 in sanctions

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Attorneys for the city of Inglewood are asking a judge to throw out a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Mayor James T. Butts Jr.’s former assistant and ex-girlfriend on the grounds that she has stalled and obstructed the case for more than a year.

A legal motion filed Wednesday, May 15, requests the court dismiss 3-year-old case and impose $217,404 in sanctions against the former assistant, Melanie McDade-Dickens, for refusing to “produce evidence supporting her allegations” and “engaging in a staggering pattern of discovery abuses.”

“From the beginning, the City has made clear that Melanie McDade’s case lacks merit,” said Mira Hashmall, a partner at Miller Barondess LLP and outside counsel for Inglewood, in a statement. “After violating multiple court orders and refusing to produce evidence to support her claims, her latest tactic has been to submit false documents in an effort to cover up her forgery, bank fraud, and other serious misconduct. This is a blatant abuse of the courts and warrants significant sanctions.”

The city’s attorneys argued in the filing that McDade-Dickens and her counsel have now violated three separate court orders to produce records and have inundated the defense team with thousands of pages of irrelevant material. Some documents may have been edited by McDade-Dickens, including psychiatric records requested by the defense, the motion alleges.

The attorney handling the motion asked for $217,404 in sanctions as she contends she spent 439 hours at a rate of $495 per hour “performing work as a direct result of Plaintiff’s continued discovery abuse.”

If the court declines to terminate the case, it should “issue evidentiary sanctions barring McDade from offering evidence in support of any of her claims or damages.”

In a statement, McDade-Dickens’ attorney, Ernest Martin Jr., called the motion a “ridiculous and non-meritorious” attempt to delay the case’s October trial date and to “avoid accountability for the real issue at the heart of the case: Mayor James Butts’s abhorrent treatment of my client, Melanie McDade.”

“Indeed, rather than hold back evidence, Ms. McDade has produced thousands of pages of texts and emails from her personal and City-issued phones evidencing clear quid pro quo pervasive sexual harassment by Mayor Butts,” Martin wrote. “The documents produced by Ms. McDade include text messages authored by the Mayor and sent to Ms. McDade at work, in which the Mayor begs her to resume the sexual relationship that she ended. When Ms. McDade refused to resume the toxic relationship with him, she suffered significant adverse employment actions that ultimately culminated in her termination.”

McDade-Dickens, once one of the city’s highest paid employees, alleges the mayor harassed and retaliated against her after she ended their eight-year relationship in 2018. She accused Butts of subsequently cutting her assignments, berating her in front of other staff, stalking her and ultimately firing her over the break-up.

She sued in early 2021 and has asked for at least $12 million in damages.

“There are literally thousands of pages of incriminating text messages and emails that support Ms. McDade’s claims and demonstrate a clear pattern of abusive conduct by the Mayor,” Martin wrote. “When all of the facts are revealed at trial, Ms. McDade is confident that she will prevail.”

Martin expressed confidence the court will deny the motion for terminating sanctions and stated McDade-Dickens is “looking forward to having her day in court in a very public trial.”

The city, however, claims McDade-Dickens was fired for cause for using city employees for personal business and for alleged fraud. The city accused McDade of persuading a subordinate to co-sign a home loan in exchange for preferential treatment for her son in the city’s first time home-buyer program. They also allege she altered financial records and lied about a hardship to withdraw money from a retirement account early to cover the mortgage’s down payment.

Text messages contained as exhibits in the recent court filings appear to support some of the allegations.

In one exchange, McDade-Dickens thanked the employee for agreeing to co-sign, even though it had caused a fight between the employee and her husband.

The city also alleges McDade-Dickens, at one point, forged a bonus check to make herself appear more financially stable to a home loan lender.

In a series of text messages, McDade-Dickens sent a picture of what appeared to be a pay stub for $21,000 with white-out over the date and new numbers written-in. She then told the employee to scan it, send it to a real estate agent and then delete the image from her phone.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” she wrote.

Other exhibits included love letters allegedly written by Butts in which he begs McDade-Dickens to come back to him.

A hearing on the motion is scheduled for December.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.