McDonald loses civil case against city


The five-day trial of former Maricopa Community Services Director Marty McDonald ended Tuesday with a judgment favorable to the city.

Pinal County Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Carter Olson granted the city motion Tuesday morning for a directed verdict, which means after hearing all evidence presented by McDonald, he failed to bring forth enough evidence to establish a claim and there was no basis from which the jury could conclude in favor of McDonald.

McDonald was placed on administrative leave by the city in May 2009, one day before being indicted on two felony charges stemming from the alleged misuse of a city FedEx shipping discount used to mail goods. He was terminated August 2009.

However, those charges were dropped when McDonald produced an email showing he requested his personal FedEx account be removed from the city’s prior to doing any shipping.

At issue in Tuesday’s findings were McDonald’s claims of negligence, malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Prior to the trial, the court granted the city summary judgment on McDonald’s claims of abuse of process and invasion of privacy/false light.

The court also awarded the city its court costs in defending the case, which will be determined in the next 10 days. Once the court enters the judgment, McDonald has 30 days to file an appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

McDonald’s attorney, Clair William Lane, said those costs do not include the city’s attorney’s fees.

Lane said a decision to appeal has not yet been made.

“There are some things in the case that are appealable,” he said.

Lane said his client’s case against the city was never about winning money, it was about having McDonald’s story told.

“There are times to take cases because it is the right thing to do,” he said. “The city’s records clearly show McDonald’s personal FedEx account was never given a city of Maricopa discount. Our goal was to get the truth out and obviously we accomplished our goal. We paint the real picture of what happened to Marty McDonald.”

Lane said a key point in the judge’s verdict was the interpretation of the word malice, and whether Roger Kolman, who was assistant city manager when McDonald was fired, acted maliciously toward his client.

“The question is whether I had offered enough evidence to get over that hurdle,” Lane said. “I knew that would be a challenge from the get-go. I knew that coming in.”

McDonald will be back in court with a criminal case unrelated to the civil trial he lost Tuesday. He is accused of defrauding the Friends of the Maricopa Public Library and the city for a total of $8,000.

Lane said there will be a status conference Monday to sever city employee David Aviles from the criminal case because Lane contends that if Aviles didn’t commit a crime, McDonald couldn’t have committed a crime.

Aviles was indicted on nine criminal counts, including one count of forgery, one count of hindering prosecution in the first degree and one count of tampering with a public record.

Lane filed a motion in October that one of three indictments against McDonald should be dismissed because there is no dispute to the facts that Aviles committed no crime when he updated the city’s inventories to reflect the city received two mini goals, which are hoops hung over existing baskets to make the goals lower for children.

The indictment Lane wants to drop alleges McDonald and Aviles, who was placed on administrative leave then allowed to return to work last March, modified city of Maricopa records between Sept. 1 and Sept. 22, 2010 to make it appear McDonald was innocent of charges he defrauded the city in the purchase of two Bison basketball mini goals in 2008.