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In a bizarre twist that caps off a series of bizarre twists, a Sacramento Superior Court judge has thrown out the defamation case brought by state lawyer Mary-Alice Coleman against her employer, the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Coleman won the first part of a suit against the DCA, when a jury found that her superiors had made several potentially defamatory statements against her (see “Mary-Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore,” SN&R, April 12).

The statements included accusations that Coleman had mishandled her review of a sensitive internal investigation of top officers in the Board of Pharmacy, a branch within the Department of Consumer Affairs.

During her review of the investigation, Coleman discovered what she believed were death threats made by one employee against the board officers who were under investigation. Coleman claimed she was retaliated against after revealing the threats to the two women.

Coleman was just beginning the second phase of her trial, with a new jury, that was to determine whether the statements made against her were indeed defamatory, and if so, what damages she was entitled to.

Before the second phase of the trial could get fully underway, however, Judge Sheldon H. Grossfeld threw the case out on what Coleman said amounts to a technicality. The judge’s decision came seven weeks into the saga, after Coleman racked up nearly $250,000 in legal fees.

“He threw us right out on our heads,” Coleman said. “It was a huge shock.”

Earlier in June, Grossfeld also threw out a $3 million jury verdict awarded to Labib Doumit, the Board of Pharmacy employee who made the alleged threats. The suit claimed he had been harassed and suffered an invasion of privacy, and the jury unanimously agreed.

Yet Grossfeld ruled that there was no substantial evidence to support Doumit’s claim.

In the Coleman case, Grossfeld dismissed the case on the grounds that the jury’s findings were different than the claim Coleman made to the state Board of Control, a mandatory procedural step made before she could bring her suit against the state.

Coleman is considering an appeal: “I don’t want to be remembered as an example of why it is hopeless to take on the state.”

Another character from the recent pages of SN&R—Troy Agid, owner of Bonehead’s Tattoos—has had a happy ending to his story (see “Sign of the Times,” SN&R, June 21).

Sacramento’s Design Review and Preservation Board originally took a dim view of the sprawling sign in front of his business, but then agreed with Agid supporters that it was more mural than sign, and at a recent follow-up hearing, finally agreed to let him keep an only slightly smaller version of his original sign.

The board had nothing but praise for Agid’s beautification of the store’s façade, and Agid felt fine about his run-in with city bureaucracy: “I am so glad that I went through this process.”