Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/26/2010 09:18:36 PM PDT

COLTON – A lawsuit former Police Chief Ken Rulon filed against the city in late 2007 seeking $10 million in damages could go to trial as early as next summer, his attorney said Tuesday.

San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Frank Gafkowski ruled this month that Rulon’s claims of whistle- blower retaliation, defamation of character and intentional infliction of emotional distress will be heard by a jury.

“We will ask the jury to give him full compensatory damages for his economic loss, the damage to his career and emotional distress,” said Rulon’s attorney, Virginia Keeny.

A trial setting hearing is scheduled in January. Keeny said she expects a summer trial date will be set.

Rulon was hired in 2004 by then- City Manager Daryl Parrish and fired by Parrish in April 2007 after the Colton Police Officers Association, the city’s police union, cast an 85-6 no-confidence vote on his leadership, said John Higginbotham, who is representing the city in the case.

But Rulon has contended he was fired for attempting to shed light on misconduct by several former city officials.

Keeny says Rulon submitted evidence to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office showing Parrish attempted to cover up the scandal involving Ramon Hernandez, a former councilman who pleaded guilty in 2008 to charging over $5,500 to his city-issued credit card for calls to sex hot lines and hotel stays.

Parrish has denied the allegation.

The defamation-of-character claim stems from a statement Parrish sent to a reporter calling Rulon a “psychopathic megalomaniac,” Keeny said. Parrish also stated Rulon sexually harassed female city employees, which Keeny said is false. The emotional-distress claim also stems from Parrish’s statements.

Rulon has not been able to sustain a job in law enforcement since the firing and Parrish’s statements damaged others’ perception of his character and imply that he’s mentally unstable, Keeny said.

Rulon was hired as Montebello’s police chief in July but had his contract severed a few days later after its City Council expressed concerns.

If a jury determines Parrish defamed Rulon, the city would be responsible for any monetary damages awarded, Keeny said.

Councilman Richard DeLaRosa said he hopes the outcome of a trial doesn’t cost Colton taxpayers big bucks.

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