Former deputy, wife file new suit in county court against Sheriff’s Office
Yvonne Davada Evans, a former accounting assistant with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, and her husband, retired Lt. Bill Evans, have refiled suit against their former employer in Nevada County Superior Court.
The move follows the February dismissal of their earlier lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in 2013.
The new filing makes the same basic allegation as the federal suit, minus constitutional violations, said the couple’s attorney, Kerry Schaffer.
The suit alleges that Yvonne Evans was retaliated against after she complained of sexual harassment by then-Undersheriff Richard Kimball, and that Bill Evans was forced to retire.
According to the complaint, Yvonne Evans (then Cantrell) was hired by the Sheriff’s Office in 2004 as a senior accounting assistant, and her performance reviews were generally good. But after she separated from then-husband Keith Cantrell in 2008, Kimball embraced and kissed her, the complaint stated.
He then began investigating her personal life, and she complained to her union steward about his behavior in January 2009, according to the complaint.
After Yvonne and Bill Evans married in 2010, her ex-husband reportedly called in a tip alleging she had stolen money; she was placed on administrative leave in September 2010 and fired in May 2011.
Kimball, who was in charge of the investigation, saw the chance to get rid of Yvonne Evans for her complaints against him for sexual harassment, the complaint alleges.
The Sheriff’s Office retaliated against Yvonne Evans by terminating her employment, by instigating a criminal complaint against her, and subsequently contesting her unemployment benefits, the complaint alleges.
Bill Evans allegedly suffered retaliation by being falsely charged with violating employee confidentiality, being declared unfit for duty, and by creating such an intolerable working environment that he was forced to resign in October 2011.
Yvonne Evans was arrested in August 2011 and charged with four misdemeanor counts of withholding fines after more than $13,000 allegedly was discovered missing. The case against her was dismissed after a judge determined the filing was past the one-year statute of limitations for misdemeanors.
An initial complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in August 2013 and an amended complaint was filed in May 2014.
In June, the federal court granted the county’s motion to dismiss in part, with respect to First and Fourth Amendment claims against the county and the individual defendants, including Sheriff Keith Royal; all parties stipulated to the dismissal of the complaint in February.
The only remaining claim then became a state law claim alleging violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act for retaliation against a sexual harassment complaint.
The complaint filed locally is the same claim as before, just a new filing, said Nevada County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green.
“I did refile the case,” Schaffer said. “The reason I filed in federal court (initially) was to get a more neutral court, but the advantage to a state court is that you don’t need an unanimous jury.”
In civil cases in California courts, a jury can render a verdict if three-quarters of the jurors agree.
The “guts” of the claim remain the same, Schaffer said: the retaliation against Bill and Yvonne Evans.
An initial case management conference is scheduled in Nevada County Superior Court on June 29.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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