A federal judge is on the verge of dismissing a fired Newport Beach cop’s wrongful termination lawsuit, calling the complaint “largely incoherent” and “often nonsensical.”
Inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford determined that Eric Peterson’s 14-claim civil complaint involving two former Orange County police chiefs, city officials as well as police management has not stated a valid legal case of his victimization.
“Plaintiff has fallen far short of providing allegations that are plausible,” Guilford announced in a June 30 ruling that labeled the lawsuit “a shotgun” pleading. “Indeed, sorting through the ways to dismiss some or all claims against some or all defendants is a bit like working through a jigsaw puzzle . . . In short, it shouldn’t be this court’s responsibility to solve the jigsaw puzzle by determining which allegations apply to which claims, and which allegations support claims against which defendants.”
In late 2014, city officials finalized the firing of Peterson because he’d maintained an unauthorized relationship with a U.S. Secret Service informant, serial identity thief Douglas Scott Frey, and, they believe, lied about the relationship that, bizarrely, involved an alleged 911 charity.
The terminated officer claimed he was fired in a vaguely outlined conspiracy because he knew too much about Newport Beach Police Department’s (NBPD) unethical uses of informants in multiple cases.
Guilford agreed with Newport Beach lawyers that the lawsuit hasn’t reached minimal standards to proceed to a jury trial but postponed finalizing a decision to dismiss the case.
“The court is suspicious that granting leave to amend [the lawsuit] will be futile,” he wrote before announcing he’ll give Peterson’s Newport Coast lawyer, Gregory G. Petersen, “one more shot” to file a coherent case.
What the judge says he doesn’t want is more “stream-of-conscience ramblings.”
A series of legitimate, unrelated scandals have plagued NBPD for more than a decade.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.