Santa Cruz Muni Loses $107,500 Court Case Due to Not Presening Evidence

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“Why didn’t the Municipality’s lawyers present all of the evidence?” That was the question asked by Administrative Director Alexandra Gutierrez during the regular session of the Santa Cruz Municipal Council on Tuesday, October 27th regarding the case of former employee Francisco Sagot.

According to a ruling issued by the labor court on September 2nd, the Municipality of Santa Cruz has to pay ¢57 million ($107,500) to the municipal engineer for wrongful dismissal, vacation pay, bonuses, lost wages and moral damage.

Gutierrez showed the mayor, Jorge Chavarria, and the council members a file containing a record of 112 late arrivals by the former employee, which was never presented to the court.

“There was hard evidence that the Municipality’s lawyers did not present. There are late arrivals, absences. The fellow committed serious offenses and I have all of it in this file, but I don’t know why they didn’t defend the case well and now the Municipality is affected,” said the administrative director.

Gutierrez indicated that Sagot suffered from psychiatric problems. However, they never asked him for a medical certificate when hiring him and he was not dismissed during the first three trial months.

In addition, she explained that the municipality made a mistake when firing him since the dismissal resolution was issued on September 22, 2009 but Sagot was not notified until January 10, 2012, in other words, almost three years later.

In defense, Mayor Jorge Chavarria commented that the notification was delayed since the official was incapacitated for a long time and therefore could not be notified.

In response to questions from the council members, Gutierrez also clarified that although there was a record of absences and lateness, the engineer’s pay was never docked accordingly.

“How unfortunate! How unfortunate it is that we stop doing work in our canton because of paying out money for cases that we have lost. We can not continue allowing that we continue losing trials here for different reasons. Where are those responsible?,” commented Council Member Cristina Chavarria.

For his part, the president of the municipal council, Roger Sanchez, drafted an agreement ordering  the internal auditor of the municipality to start an investigation to indicate who are the ones responsible for not defending the case in the way that it deserved.

The agreement was unanimously passed and the auditor should present a report within a period of 15 days.