Pat Meyering Lawsuit Costs Sunnyvale $83,000

By the Numbers: $83,024

Within a day of being sworn in to Sunnyvale’s City Council, attorney and serial plaintiff Pat Meyering filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city.

He claimed to have tripped and fallen on the sidewalk on Morse Avenue. Because he was never able to point out where he stumbled, even after visiting the site a few times, a judge tossed out the lawsuit after two years of legal wrangling.

While the case got dismissed, the back and forth racked up a hefty tab for the city. Billing documents from San Francisco-based law firm Bertrand, Fox & Elliot show Sunnyvale is on the hook for more than $83,000.

The invoice offers even more fodder for the citizen-led campaign to recall the rancorous Meyering from office. Critics say the councilman bullies his colleagues and refuses to work collaboratively.

Last year, the first-term city official was censured by the council for his bellicose behavior, including yelling on the dais and accusing his peers of accepting "sweetheart deals." Meyering's critics accuse him of having scared away city manager Gary Luebbers, who retired a couple years early, and city attorney David Kahn, who took a job elsewhere.

During the legal battle over his personal injury suit the city set up a couple of mediation sessions to work things out. Meyering skipped the second meeting, saying that instead of getting anything settled he wanted to just “tear it all down.”

"The whole thing is, I think, indicative of the type of character he has," Peter Cirigliano, who's among the group spearheading the recall campaign. "Rather than being collaborative, he shows a propensity to look for someone to accuse, blame and sue."

It will be interesting to see how a man who never misses a chance to harp on the city for what he deems wasteful spending will react to the legal bill when it ends up on the consent calendar.

Calls to Meyering's law office were met with an automated recording, then disconnected. But a website supporting his voice on the council paints him as an embattled minority waging war against special interests.

"Pat is greatly outnumbered and consequently some council members and ex-members have ganged up on him," the website states. "He has been censured by the council for speaking the truth regarding the appearance of conflicts of interest. They don’t want his comments heard publicly in council meetings. ... Curiously they want to completely silence Pat just as they contemplate the largest city development project in many years."

Below the text is a row of photos: Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Meyering, each stamped with the word, "Censured!"

The recall effort has culled about 2,200 signatures to date, including several from former mayors, council members and other local leaders. It needs 8,284—15 percent of registered voters—to move forward. The "Recall Sunnyvale Council Member Pat Meyering" Facebook group recently reached more than 200 "likes."

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

12 Comments

  1. According to the recall Meyering web site Pat Meyering..

    …the only councilmember who refuses to sign Sunnyvale’s Code of Conduct for elected officials.

    If it were illegal to skip signing a code of conduct then Pat Meyering would have been removed from office for refusing to sign the document. Apparently councilmembers are not required to sign the city’s code of conduct.

    When I read the recall Meyering web site I keep thinking of the “Harper Valley PTA” lyrics. Small minds making a big deal about small things.

    • Constantly interrupting meetings, speaking out of order, personal attacks on other council members, and being completely ignorant of council policy (e.g. ratification of intergovernmental appointments) aren’t exactly small things.

    • That is why a recall campaign in underway — only the voters can remove him from office. And $83,000 spent defending a frivolous lawsuit may be a small thing to you but not to most Sunnyvale citizens.

      • I’m not a Sunnyvale resident, but it’s clear to me that this recall campaign is classic misdirection.

        Meyering may or may not be a bozo, but not signing a code of ethics and suing the city have less to do with how he does his job than it has do do with trying to silence criticism. If you manage to get rid of Meyering, the dissent will not stop. When the dissent stops, it’ll be because people will have a government that they are happy with. When that happens, bozos won’t get elected.

        • Dissent is not the issue. The issue is that Meyering is constantly interrupting and insulting other members of the city council. How is not letting someone speak a good thing. Any legislative body has rules of conduct that should be followed, so that all dissenting opinions can be heard during the session.

          • I watched a session where Meyering expected to speak, but where his opportunity was taken away. It was probably within the rules, but it seemed sleazy and undemocratic.

            When people in government use the rules in ways that are undemocratic, then people respond in kind.

  2. What you can’t see by just watching the Sunnyvale Council video tapes is the faces that Chris Moylan made when Pat Meyering or members of the public were speaking (I realize that Moylan is now termed out.) When someone who makes faces/rolls eyes etc. when others are speaking, then speaks with disdain in response to what others have said, then is largely behind the recall petition, the recall loses a lot of credibility. Anyone who initiates a recall had better have behavior that is beyond reproach – having observed the Sunnyvale Council, I think that those who are throwing stones should clean up their own acts first.

    It is totally fair to bring up the issue of council members who vote in favor of developers’ projects when said developers contributed to the council members’ election campaigns. If that makes council members uncomfortable – then don’t accept the donations.

    Interesting that they only have about 2000 signatures, when they started this whole thing a couple of months ago. The recall website used to say that they needed 8,200 signatures (the total they need has now been removed.) They don’t know or don’t want to say that they actually need between 9000 to 10,000 signatures – because there’s always about 15% which aren’t valid signatures, and the Registrar of Voters checks names/addresses/signatures to make sure the signatures are valid. The deadline to make the November ballot is fast approaching – and it really looks like they won’t make it. They may make the deadline at a later date. There is a time window over which signatures have to be collected (180 days). If they can’t step up the pace for signature collection, they will fail.

  3. This recall is a waste of taxpayer money.
    Hawkers armed with misinformation are out requesting signatures form unsuspecting citizens.
    The minority voices should be heard.
    All but one other councilman accepted money from the very developers who have destroyed our communities and replaced peace and quiet with traffic disruptions and debris. The City continually refuses to enforce noise and traffic laws kowtowing to the developers who constantly violate them.
    Pat Meyering is a breath of fresh air in a room of stale blowhards.