City Must Indemnify Board Members it Sued!

The San Diego City Attorney’s decision to sue members of the city’s retirement board seriously backfired.  Not only did the city attorney fail to establish the claim (the actions were ultimately dismissed at the city’s request), the court has now ruled that the city must pay the board members’ attorney fees incurred in defending the actions.

The ruling is based on an earlier ordinance requiring the city to “defend, indemnify, and hold harmless … [board] members … against all expenses, judgments, … and other amounts” in suits against the board members for actions taken in the scope of their duties as members of the board.

The court ruled that it did not matter that the litigation here was filed by the city attorney against the board members for dereliciton of duty.  Since the city never made a finding of wrongdoing by the board members, the court ruled that the indemnification ordinance applied.

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