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Court: ex-sheriff's officials can sue over firings

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A state appeals court has ruled that five former top Orange County Sheriff's Department officials can proceed with a lawsuit claiming they were wrongly fired.

The Orange County Register says (http://bit.ly/1hLCxtt) Thursday's decision reverses the ruling of a trial judge, who threw out most of the claims in 2012.

An attorney for the five, Joel Baruch, tells the newspaper he believes there's a chance the county and the sheriff will settle rather than go to trial.

The lawsuit claims the five were fired for personal reasons, including their association with ex-Sheriff Mike Carona. It says Sheriff Sandra Hutchens used a budget shortfall as a pretext for the firings. Hutchens characterized the dismissals of top administrators as layoffs and said they saved the county millions.

Sheriff's officials did not immediately comment on Thursday's ruling.

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Information from: The Orange County Register, http://www.ocregister.com

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