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‘FAJITAGATE’ DEFENDANT PARRIES CIVIL CASE WITH COUNTERSUIT One of San Francisco’s fajitagate defendants, former police officer Alex Fagan Jr., is attempting to file a countersuit against the two men who sued him and two other off-duty cops for damages after a 2002 brawl over a bag of fajitas. Predictably, lawyers for plaintiffs Jade Santoro and Adam Snyder almost immediately claimed that the timing of the attempt to file a cross-complaint on Nov. 21, four weeks before the cops’ civil trial was supposed to begin, was an outrageous demonstration of bad faith. “There was nothing new learned that could plausibly motivate, all of a sudden, the filing of this fantasy-based claim,” Santoro’s attorney, Dennis Cunningham , argued in a brief filed earlier this month. At a hearing last week, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay seemed skeptical too. Although he didn’t go so far as to make an on-the-spot ruling, he pressed one of Fagan’s lawyers on the timing of the filing, asking pointedly, “In the last 2 1/2 to three years, [Fagan] hasn’t known he was the victim of a battery?” One of Fagan’s attorneys, Walnut Creek lawyer Komal Chaddha, replied that his defense hadn’t expected the civil case to take so long. “I’m not saying this was filed particularly timely,” she said, insisting it was still filed in good faith. If the judge allows the countersuit, Fagan wants nominal damages, punitive damages and costs, according to court filings. San Francisco lawyer John Scott, who appeared alongside Cunningham for Santoro and Snyder, suggested Fagan’s lawyers were trying to take advantage of his clients’ generosity. The two civilians have already agreed to a defense request to continue the trial until next year. “I don’t think we should be punished for being nice guys,” he said. Whether the defense will get to air its countersuit claims in front of a jury is still an open question. As of Monday morning, Quidachay had not yet decided where to come down on the issue. Fagan and the two other officers have been acquitted of criminal charges. � Pam Smith FEELING USED Match.com, the popular online dating site, has recently gotten the attention of the media and dozens of bloggers over a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles claiming it set up a fake date to keep a client subscribing. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips partner Robert Platt, who is representing Match.com, said the case is simply a “frivolous” claim that the company plans not to settle. Just like any other business, people are looking to make an easy buck, he said. Platt has also been dealing with a class action that says the California dating act applies to online dating. That act, which was established in the era of brick-and-mortar dating services, required companies to refund money if the user did not receive the intended services. That act was created to avoid situations where candidates paid huge upfront fees after they were assured they’d meet a suitable person, Platt explained. “They’d come in, and there would be one guy who weighed 700 pounds, was unemployed and smelled,” Platt joked. Of course, candidates would want their money back. The act also says that if you move more than 50 miles from the dating office, you can get money back. “How does that apply to us?” Platt said. “We don’t even have a dating services office and we’re in 153 different countries.” Despite the recent press on lawsuits, “the overwhelming majority of people who use our site love it,” he said. � Kellie Schmitt IT’S MY PARTY Jeffrey Eisinger says being a Republican would’ve been easier than being Green. The lawyer with the U.S. Small Business Administration in Fresno is busy fighting efforts to oust him from his job by the Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency that handles employee complaints. The OSC claims Eisinger used his government e-mail account to send out more than 100 Green Party messages in 2002. “It’s kind of politically driven, based on my party affiliation,” Eisinger said in a recent phone conversation. He doesn’t deny sending the e-mails, and admits they may have been a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from using government resources for political activities. But Eisinger says firing is an inappropriate punishment, especially since he was already suspended for sending out too many e-mails and stopped sending them in 2002. “The evidence is what it is, and I don’t contest that,” he said. “The question is just what’s an appropriate penalty.” Eisinger has offered to settle for docked pay or even a suspension, but the OSC has moved forward with its termination proposal, and last month an administrative law judge ordered his removal. That, Eisinger says, is where politics come in. He says his supervisor and coworkers have supported him throughout the process, and that other government employees in Fresno have hung up Republican posters or made political statements without retribution. “They have different standards based on what party a person is in,” Eisinger said. He also points out that OSC director Scott Bloch is under investigation himself for allegations of political bias, and questions whether a truly impartial office would spend three years investigating the Green Party e-mails. In a Nov. 28 press release on Eisinger’s case, Bloch is quoted as saying, “Whether it’s old-school low-tech or new-school high-tech, the Hatch Act remains an important principle our office is dedicated to enforcing.” Eisinger said he’ll continue to fight his removal and try to stay in the job he’s held for about 20 years. “From what I have seen, partisanship is now the controlling factor in OSC prosecutions,” he wrote in an e-mail sent from his personal account. � Justin Scheck

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