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Jury rules in favor of Sonoma County employee in privacy case

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Jurors on Thursday found a Santa Rosa man was not entitled to monetary damages from a neighbor he claimed used her position as a Sonoma County social worker to pry into his confidential files and embarrass him.

The panel deliberated about a day before announcing its verdict in favor of Lisbeth De Mejia, a Human Services Department eligibility worker who was sued by her neighbor of 20 years, Eugene Alexeev.

Alexeev testified in the weeklong trial that De Mejia shouted out confidential information about his lack of a job and dependence on public assistance in a 2010 argument over backyard watering. He sought damages for breach of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.

Jurors found De Mejia’s conduct was outrageous and intrusive, violating Alexeev’s privacy, but determined it was not the cause of his suffering, which he said included anxiety, crippling headaches, loss of sleep and depression.

“My brother is devastated by the decision,” said Dmitri Alexeev.

De Mejia previously was disciplined with a pay cut but remains a county employee.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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