Jury rejects harassment claim against Clippers owner

Updated: October 21, 2005, 5:31 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- A jury rejected claims by a former employee of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling that he fired her for turning down his sexual advances.

Sterling
Sterling

The jury determined that Sterling had not sexually harassed and then retaliated against Sumner Davenport, hired by Sterling in 2001 as a property supervisor for apartments and other buildings owned by his Beverly Hills Properties.

Sterling's lawyer, Bob Platt, said the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury's verdict was ``a complete vindication.'' After a nine-week trial, ``the jury found there was no merit to any of her claims,'' indicating the panel believed Sterling's testimony over Davenport's, Platt said.

Davenport alleged in her lawsuit that Sterling had tried to kiss her and touch her breast, and once answered the door of his Malibu home wearing only a towel and tried to hug her.

She said when she complained to her supervisor she was told to stay out of Sterling's way. An internal company investigation clearing Sterling of the allegations was ``a sham,'' her lawyer said.

Davenport also said she believed Sterling's company's had racially prejudiced employment and housing practices. Platt denied the allegation.

Sterling said in court records that Davenport got tired of her job over her 11 months of employment, resulting in her ``vindictively hatching a scheme to discredit, harass and embarrass'' him and his company. His legal team said she had tried unsuccessfully to file a stress-related workers' compensation claim.

John F. Denove, Davenport's attorney, said Friday the workers' compensation issue was pending. He said he talked to jurors who told him they didn't believe Sterling's account but believed Sterling had corroborating evidence and that Davenport didn't.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press