Riverside settles age discrimination suit

After a nearly two-year legal battle, the City of Riverside and mayor Kathy Rose reached a settlement in an age discrimination lawsuit with a former employee.

David Blackburn, a former Riverside city administrator, settled out of court for $200,000 to cover lost wages, emotional distress and legal fees. The city approved payments totaling $100,000 to be made to him with a vote during a special meeting held Dec. 31, 2014.

The Riverside Board of Aldermen voted 4-1-1 in favor the terms of the settlement with Ron Super voting no and Art Homer abstaining.

The city is responsible for half of the settlement amount. The city will also pay the mediation fees accrued by the parties as they worked toward an out-of-court agreement.

Age 63 at the end of his 12-year tenure with the city, Blackburn filed suit in March of 2013 after his termination the previous year. He alleged that the city terminated him in July of 2012 due to his age and because Rose held a grudge against him for speaking out in 2005 on a questionable contract in the Horizons Development District between the city and then-mayor Betty Burch – Rose’s mother.

“From the beginning, the City of Riverside has been comfortable in its position about this civil lawsuit,” the city said in a statement released to The Citizen on Friday, Jan. 9. “The cost of protracted litigation, to include staff time and on-going projects, certainly needed to be weighed against the opportunity to conclude this case in a mutually satisfying way. That is what this settlement represents.”

Blackburn began working for the city in 2000 as the city administrator. A July 2012 press release from the city announced his departure as a resignation, and Rose thanked Blackburn for his service.

"We're grateful to David for his 12 years of leadership to Riverside," Rose said. "Our community has made great strides during this time, including roadway, parks and public works improvements and the launch of the Horizons office and industrial innovation project. We wish him every success in his future endeavors."

Blackburn’s original suit asked for nearly $9 million in damages, $1.5 million in actual damages and $7.25 million in punitive damages. The settlement vacates a jury trial date set for June 8, 2015.