Bay Area Briefs

Thursday March 14, 2002

Livermore Lab employee wins  

sexual harassment suit 


ALAMEDA — A computer technician was awarded $1 million after an Alameda County jury concluded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory dismissed her for supporting a colleague’s sexual harassment claim. 

“I am hoping that by me going to court and going this far, other people will see you don’t have to fall to this pressure,” said Dee Kotla, a Livermore resident who now works for Santa Clara County. 

Lab officials have not decided whether to appeal Monday’s wrongful termination award. They maintain Kotla was legitimately fired for using her lab computer and phone to conduct unauthorized business. 

In the early 1990s, Kotla was a supervisor in the lab’s telecommunications department when one of her employees complained of sexual harassment by a higher-level manager. The worker, Kim Norman, later filed suit against the lab. 

Kotla, a 10-year lab employee, supported Norman’s sexual harassment claims in a deposition. During that testimony, Kotla revealed she occasionally worked for an outside company owned by a friend. 

Within two months of her testimony, Kotla was fired. 

Garcia’s guitar battle continues 


SAN RAFAEL — The fight over Jerry Garcia’s guitars hit another snag — this time over taxes — surprising even the judge who thought the ownership dispute was nearing an end. 

It’s the latest in the battle between Grateful Dead Productions and Doug Irwin, who built for Garcia the guitars known as Tiger, Wolf, Rosebud and Headless. 

When Garcia died in 1995, he left the guitars to Irwin. But the Novato-based production company that oversees the band’s affairs maintained the guitars belonged to the Dead, not Garcia. 

Collectors have estimated the guitars could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Both parties agreed to compromise and walk away with two guitars each. 

Marin County Judge Michael Dufficy was expected to sign off on the deal Tuesday. But Irwin’s lawyer argued that Tiger should pass through Garcia’s estate, meaning Irwin would not have to pay taxes on it. Dufficy will consider the conflict at a hearing scheduled May 14.