A lawsuit filed against PCC by a former employee will go forward on July 19 with one less charge for the college to defend.
Alfred Hutchings filed a suit against the district after he was fired following a criminal investigation on him being involved with soliciting contracts to possible vendors for the college.
The lawsuit claimed defamation, wrongful termination and sexual harassment. The defamation charge was dropped after a hearing on June 6, where Judge Richard Fruin granted the districtâ€™s motion to strike it.
Defamation, which is a false accusation of an offense or malicious misrepresentation of someoneâ€™s words or actions, was dropped from the suit since it could not be proven that the collegeâ€™s General Counsel Cooper or President Mark Rocha had said anything that was untrue. Statements from Rocha and Cooper included Hutchingâ€™s involvement in a bribery scandal soliciting contracts with out granting them, according to the complaint filed by Hutchings.
Hutchings claimed Rocha and Cooper falsely said he â€œâ€™was doing inappropriate things with possible vendors,â€ referring to his alleged involvement in a bribery scandal with Richard van Pelt, former director of facilities, soliciting contracts from LED Global, LLC. The bribery scandal entailed that both Hutchings and van Pelt had allegedly taken money from LED Global in exchange for a contract with the college. A contract was never granted.
Hutchings also claims Rocha said, â€œâ€™I would not have hired Hutchings,â€™â€ as well as calling him a â€œâ€™cheat â€¦ dishonest â€¦ shameful â€¦â€™â€ and â€œâ€™disgusting.â€
Hutchings retaliated ridding claims of defamation in a complaint, saying Cooper and Rocha made statements that were not following the legal process to file a motion to strike, and that it was based on â€œretaliatory motiveâ€ in regards to the sexual harassment claims.
PCCâ€™s attorney Nancy Doumanian defended the motion to strike the defamation in a court document, claiming Hutchings does not have enough evidence to prove it.
â€œHutchings has not proffered a shred of controverting evidence, and has plainly failed to meet his burden of establishing falsity of the alleged statements â€“ an essential element of defamation.â€
Doumanian also argued that even if Hutchings was still under investigation for the LED Global bribery scandal and no official report was made in his relation to it, does not mean he can call Rocha and Cooperâ€™s claims of his involvement in it defamatory.
â€œThe fact the Hutchings has not yet been criminally charged speaks only to the depth to which the District Attorneyâ€™s Office is investigating, not to his lack of guilt,â€ she said.
Another hearing set for the district to argue dropping the other claims of wrongful termination and sexual harassment is set for July 19.