Although the city Attorney, Mike Garcia, representing Najarian, had asked U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee to throw out the complaint, she denied the city’s request due to new facts presented by Steven Gallegos, the anti-smoking advocate.
“The new facts in the complaint, accepted by the judge at true, establish that Najarian deprived plaintiff of his constitutional rights, by complaining to hospital administrative officials regarding Gallegos, causing his termination from Glendale Adventist Medical Center, in retaliation for his exercising his 1st Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution,” Gee wrote in her order.
Garcia said in an email, “Based on our understanding of the actual facts, however, the basic allegation is untrue and we are confident we will prevail at the next stage of the litigation,”
In May, Gee had dismissed Gallegos’ original multi-million dollar complaint filed in December 2012 because it lacked evidence. However, she allowed him to amend and resubmit it with new facts, which he did last June. In the amended complaint, Gallegos’ attorney focused on the city’s close relationship with the hospital and Gallegos’ claim that his boss told him Najarian insisted on his firing.
Gallegos, was a tobacco outreach worker for GAMC, who lost his job last October. The termination came after he wrote a letter that was published in the Glendale News-Press critical of Najarian, Councilwoman Laura Friedman and former Councilman Rafi Manoukian for voting to lighten smoking restrictions at restaurants with large outdoor dining areas. It also came after he had just received a 3% merit raise in September.
Apparently, Najarian had contacted GAMC’s President, Kevin Roberts, insisting that he terminate Gallegos’s employment. GAMC relies heavily on the City of Glendale’s cooperation concerning various projects, i.e. bonds issuance and Medical Service Zone, etc… indicative that the City of Glendale enjoyed significant influence over GAMC, and that Gallegos’s criticism of the City’s new ordinance was what caused his termination.
“This case is about a citizen’s right to bear their grievances against the city government’s policies and if we don’t have that, then we no longer have freedom, to say what we think, and people will have been silenced out of their own fear of retribution. Gallegos said by phone that he is still looking for work and that his firing has made it difficult for him to find new employement.