Mayor Hires Lawyer to Fight Allegations

In a media interview, Mayor Bob Filner revealed he has hired an lawyer to help him fight allegations of workplace and sexual harassment.

That attorney is identified as Harvey Berger, a Hillcrest-based lawyer whose Web site said he has almost 30 years experience with employment law and specializes in helping clients avoid lawsuits.

Berger was not available for comment late Monday, and one of his employees told NBC 7 that Berger has instructed his staff not to discuss any aspect of the legal work he might be doing for Mayor Filner.

NBC 7 also learned that the embattled mayor reportedly met with at least one other law firm over the weekend. Sources said that the mayor visited the law firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Faber and Schreck, located in downtown San Diego in the NBC Building.

The Hyatt Faber law firm told NBC 7 that Filner is not a client of the firm.

Allegations against mayor detailed

Local attorney Phil Kossy, who is an expert in employment and sexual harassment law, is not surprised that Filner hired a lawyer.

Kossy said the wording of Filner’s latest news release is evidence of an attorney’s involvement.
That news release reminds San Diegans that Filner is "entitled to due process" and asserts that a "full presentation of the facts will vindicate" him.

"Certainly they're legal terminology, but they also suggest that a lawyer has crafted them or edited them," Kossy said.

Filner: "I'm not going to resign"

Legal experts agree the city could refuse to pay for Filner's lawyer if it finds that his alleged wrong-doings were committed outside the course and scope of his employment as Mayor of San Diego.
But Filner could fight that decision, especially if his attorney defeats the lawsuits.

"And if the city doesn't voluntarily reimburse (for his legal costs), then he could probably file a lawsuit for those fees and expenses," Kossy said.

No matter who pays– taxpayers or Filner himself-- the legal costs of defending against a sex or workplace harassment lawsuit would be substantial.

"You're possibly looking at a half-million dollars,” employment law specialist Aleen Haeggquist said. “And this is a very high profile case, so I think the expenses would be even higher."

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