Any hopes that a pending sexual harassment lawsuit between the city and a former janitor at the Key West Bight appeared dashed when mediation efforts failed this month.
Vilma Quintana alleges the city failed to protect her against the sexual advances of her boss, who allegedly groped her and spied on her in the bathroom, according to a federal civil lawsuit.
The city, in turn, denied those claims and invoked its right to a jury trial, according to court documents.
Key West attorney Ed Scales mediated the dispute on March 22 in an effort settle outside of court and avoid trial, but the discussions ended in an impasse, according court documents filed Tuesday.
Scales declined to comment Thursday on the closed-door discussions.
U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez has scheduled a trial date for July 15 in Key West.
Assistant City Attorney Larry Erskine declined to comment on pending litigation or the mediation efforts.
Quintana's attorney, Martin Saenz of Aventura, said he believes there will be a jury trial, but he declined to comment on specifics of the failed mediation efforts.
"I can tell you that emotionally, she is destroyed," Saenz said, adding that his client has been unable to find a job. "She is eager to get justice and justice in her eyes is making sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."
Quintana was hired by the city on April 18, 2006 and claims that since February 2010, her supervisor, Jean Abellard, became "obsessed" with her and began to "continuously follow her around and to intensively (on a daily basis) look at Ms. Quintana with lust for sex," states the eight-page lawsuit that was filed on July 27.
Quintana said in the suit that she rejected his advances and asked him to stop numerous times, but Abellard allegedly continued to harass her, including an alleged instance when he grabbed her genitalia, according to court documents. In another alleged instance, Quintana claims she was exposed and about to use the restroom when she realized Abellard was spying on her.
"Ms. Quintana panicked, pulled up her pants and underwear as fast as she could and stormed out of the ladies' restroom, screaming to Abellard that he should not be in the ladies' restroom and to get out of the way," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit accuses the city of not taking corrective action against Abellard when Quintana complained. She was fired on Aug. 22, 2011 due to her performance, but Quintana alleges she was fired for complaining about Abellard's alleged behavior, according to the lawsuit.
Quintana is asking for back pay, punitive and compensatory damages as well as attorney's fees.