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Attorneys claim Councilwoman Cori Schumacher's legal complaint was filed in her capacity as a city official and therefore the City of Carlsbad should be liable for any damages. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Schumacher ordered to pay legal fees; Carlsbad potentially liable for damages

CARLSBAD — A claim for damages has been served to the City of Carlsbad by a law firm representing former resident Noel Breen — one of three individuals who were the focus of Councilwoman Cori Schumacher’s recently quashed restraining order.

Scott Talkov, Breen’s attorney, sent the letter on March 11 seeking $42,455.18 in attorney’s fees after a judge granted Breen’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion and dismissed Schumacher’s restraining order earlier this month.

Part of Breen’s anti-SLAPP motion included a cross-complaint against the City of Carlsbad, alleging that the city is liable for Schumacher’s petition, which was “directly related to her performance of her official duties as a councilmember.”

Talkov said his client is willing to settle with the city out of court for $33,386.75.

“Politicians should not be able to evade the damages caused by their efforts to chill free speech simply because judgment collection against them would be difficult,” Talkov said. “Rather, the government entity should be liable for the torts of their elected officials.”

The motion to strike was filed in response to a civil harassment restraining order submitted by Schumacher in September 2020 against Breen and two Carlsbad residents, Anthony “Tony” Bona and Larry Posner, alleging stalking, harassment, surveillance and threats from various social media and blog posts.

Vista Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland granted the motion and ruled Schumacher’s restraining order violated both men’s First Amendment rights. Freeland also granted $2,625 in legal fees for Posner on March 12 after his case was dismissed with prejudice in October 2020.

“Justice and the First Amendment prevailed,” Posner said. “Good grief, seriously. Good grief that I had to go through this crap.”

Freeland did not make a ruling during the March 4 hearing as to whether Schumacher was acting in her capacity as a councilwoman or a private resident. Talkov contends she was acting in her official role on the council, making either the City of Carlsbad, Schumacher or her campaign liable for any legal fees or damages.

In his letter, Talkov argues Schumacher’s original complaint listed her address as 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive, the location of City Hall.

“Which Cori Schumacher filed this restraining order? Was it her individually, as a candidate for public office or as an elected official?” Talkov asked. “She may be very interested in the city finding that she was acting in her official capacity so that the city has to pay it so she doesn’t have to pay it.”

If the court rules that Schumacher’s campaign is liable, any campaign contributions to Schumacher must be used to first pay off her legal fees, Talkov said.

“If the court rules her campaign is liable, every person who donates to Cori Schumacher will be donating to the attorneys who defeated her meritless efforts to chill the First Amendment rights of her opponents,” Talkov said. “That will cause her fundraising to dry up overnight.”

According to Talkov, the city as a municipal corporation can either stand with Schumacher, distance itself from her or request the court view her actions as a private resident. Freeland is scheduled to make a determination on April 9 unless the city opts to pay the settlement amount.

“The city does not comment on issues related to litigation,” said Communications Director Kristina Ray.

Unlike Breen, Bona, who also won his anti-SLAPP motion, did not file a cross-complaint. Schumacher claimed Bona sent threats over social media and was attempting to forcibly remove her from the city.

Freeland ruled that no reasonable person would consider Bona’s remarks about Schumacher on various social media platforms to be “threats.” Bona is also seeking attorney’s fees of more than $40,000, his lawyer, Erik Jenkins, said during the March 4 hearing.

Jenkins said he will also file a claim against the City of Carlsbad for damages stemming from Schumacher’s actions. Jenkins slammed Schumacher for “abusing” her position as a public official in an attempt to silence her critics and violating their constitutional rights.

“Judge Cynthia Freeland has renewed my faith in our constitutional rights,” Bona said. “I feel blessed that she rendered a fair and unbiased decision. Now it’s time for Cori Schumacher to pay my extraordinary attorney, Erik Jenkins, for his amazing work to protect my rights. Next stop for me is a separate lawsuit against the City of Carlsbad for the many deliberate acts which severely harmed me financially and personally.”

7 comments

Noel Breen March 16, 2021 at 4:35 pm

The Councilwoman has become a net liability for Carlsbad, and I am not referring to the legal bills. The gross and disgusting, strange and stupid commentary from her core social media surrogates has appeared several times on this platform. I get very sad when people mistake the politics of personal destruction they employ, with (Name Redacted’s) allegedly progressive politics. For there is not an inclusive and hopeful thought in the dark dystopia that this politician has come to represent. The Carlsbad she has summoned is one of identity politics run amok, where race and gender differences are weaponized to silence any and all dissent. A large proportion of the community lives in utter fear of being put on blast on the Nextdoor and Facebook platforms the Councilwoman’s minions control, which have collectively become an online hate factory to bully and silence any and all divergent thought. One could utter the words that shut up Joe McCarthy, “At long last, have you no shame?” But it would do no good. If there were ever ethical guidelines, much less a moral compass, they were abandoned long ago, in favor of summoning the darker impulses of the human spirit in order to elect a demagogue.

Anthony P Bona March 16, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Yes! RECALL!!

Anthony P Bona March 16, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Hello. As one of the respondents on Cori’s silly TRO, I can tell you she succeeded in ruining my life on so many levels. I was out of work when all this began. I wonder how many great job opportunities I miss out on when the hiring people find my name listed on the SD Superior Court website with a TRO. Oh and then there’s the personal side of life. Dating can be difficult when someone googles your name and finds you accused of being a STALKER by the council woman. I mean – who wants to date an accused stalker – right? Then there’s her ardent supporters accusing me (libeling me) of things I never imagined. For example I have a screen shot of one of her campaign backers saying I threatened people on Nextdoor. Another says I was going to get a drone and follow the council woman overhead. Oh and if that’s not enough there is a hefty legal bill. But wait – there’s more … Then I can’t sleep for 5 months. and then I am ‘shadowed’ by people once saying what a great friend I was. Even though this article seems like a rosy picture it really sucks. At least I can hold my head high knowing that I fought her silly accusations and won. The city of Carlsbad ALLOWED this behavior and I am damaged. Succinctly – RECALL CORI SCHUMACHER! There is no place ANYWHERE in politics for this bully. Thank you for listening.

Cindy March 16, 2021 at 9:14 am

I have to agree! She needs to be recalled. Is there a petition I can sign?

Richard Conner March 16, 2021 at 7:49 am

Cori ran as a reasonable city official. Once she got in, she became an extremist and an activist. The residents of Carlsbad do not want an activist on city council. They want rational and practical city government

Craig Miller March 16, 2021 at 9:41 pm

Cori presented herself as an activist from day one. You can still find her easy “From Activism to Politics” on her website.

It was never about service for her, its always been about power and ego. Now the residents of Carlsbad have a legal and financial liability that calls her constituents extremists and white supremacists.

THERESA L CARPENTER March 15, 2021 at 4:06 pm

RECALL CORI!!!

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