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DEFENSE VERDICT IN S.F. HARASSMENT SUIT A San Francisco jury has rejected a sexual harassment and retaliation claim by a woman who was fired from investment banker Jefferies & Co. Inc. for poor job performance. Kimberly Hering, 42, brought the suit after being fired in February 2001 after 4 1/2 years at Jefferies. She had been seeking several million dollars in compensatory damages. The defense verdict came Thursday after a two-month trial before Superior Court Judge Charlene Padovani Mitchell. “We always believed that plaintiff’s claims of gender discrimination were an excuse for poor job performance,” said lead defense attorney Diane Doolittle. Doolittle, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges’ Redwood Shores office, said that although Hering had earned $860,000 in her last year at Jefferies, her work proficiency had slipped. Hering was an institutional research salesperson who contacted mutual funds regarding stocks. “The jury believed she failed to prove her case,” Doolittle said. Plaintiff’s counsel Alan Exelrod was not available for comment at press time. — Dennis J. Opatrny EDUCATION BOUTIQUE ADDS ANOTHER OFFICE Miller Brown & Dannis, a law firm that represents more than 200 school districts in California, has opened a new office in San Diego and added two new partners. The 39-attorney firm is headquartered in San Francisco and has another office in Palos Verdes. In addition to the new office, Janet Mueller, 49, joins the firm’s business, property and construction group in San Diego as a partner. Prior to Miller Brown, she worked for the Santa Clara County Office of Education. She earned her J.D. from UC-Davis School of Law in 1992. Joining the firm’s Palos Verdes office is partner Sue Ann Salmon Evans, 38. She is heading up the firm’s litigation practice. She earned her law degree from Loyola Law School in 1990. The firm also added nine new associates, seven of whom are located in its San Francisco office. “As the needs of schools have continued to grow, our firm has grown to help them meet their important goals,” said Gregory Dannis, the firm’s managing partner, in a press release. “Our hope is that with an additional office and new, highly competent attorneys on board, we can help schools concentrate on their primary objective — providing the best education possible for California students.” — Jason Dearen

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