Police officer misconduct results in settlement at trial of $1.45 million. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiff husband says his wife and a Burbank police officer conspired to have him arrested and then tried to extort money from him.

The Case

  • Case Name: Jeremy Bassett et al. v City of Burbank, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: U.S. D.C. Central District / CV 14-01348 SVW (CWx)
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, January 08, 2014
  • Type of Action: Civil Rights
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephen V. Wilson
  • Plaintiffs:
    Jeremy Bassett, 30, part-time musician.
    Plaintiff's current wife and four children
  • Defendants:
    City of Burbank
    Anthony Valento
    Gayle Bassett
  • Type of Result: Settlement at Trial

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,450,000
  • Settlement Amount: $1,450,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $1,450,000 joint and several.  

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Under $11,000.

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Over $1,000,000.

  • Punitive Damages:

    Included in above.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 full day.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: N/A
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: N/A

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Goldberg & Gage by Bradley C. Gage and Milad Sadr, Woodland Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Lawrence Beach Allen & Choi, PC by David Lawrence, Dennis Gonzales, Daniel Lee and Raymond W. Sakai, Glendale.

    Jackson Lewis P.C. by Mindy S. Novick and Carly Plaskin, Los Angeles.

    Morris Polich & Purdy LLP by Douglas H. Hoang, Los Angeles.

     

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Experts:
    Claude Ruffalo, Ph.D., psychology, Topanga.
  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    None.
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    None.
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    None.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Burbank Police Officer Anthony Valento had an affair with Gayle Bassett, the wife of plaintiff Jeremy Bassett. Ms. Bassett filed a criminal report of domestic violence against plaintiff. Officer Valento was one of the investigating officers. Plaintiff was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, facing 21 years in prison. The court also issued a restraining order report against plaintiff.

    Officer Valento alleged that plaintiff violated the restraining order three different times and plaintiff was arrested a second time. 

    All criminal charges were dismissed against plaintiff, who then pursued civil claims against Valento and Gayle Bassett.  Valento and Gayle were also criminally prosecuted and pled guilty to criminal violations.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff alleged that Valento and Gayle conspired together to extort money from him in exchange for dismissing the criminal charges. The FBI was contacted. From that investigation, where plaintiff was a cooperating witness, an indictment was issued against both Valento and Gayle Bassett.

    Plaintiff alleged the two individual defendants conspired with one another to violate plaintiff's civil rights. Gayle applied for bankruptcy and a stay of the trial as jury selection was underway. Valento was in prison, but was allowed to testify at trial in a suit and not in cuffs.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants claimed that Valento was not at the first arrest of Jeremy and that there was probable cause in any event for both arrests. Also that there were independent items of evidence to support the first arrest and that there were independent witnesses to support the second arrest.

    Defendant City claimed Valento's actions were not in the course and scope of his employment and not under color of law.

    Also, that as a result of the bankruptcy filing by Gayle Bassett, the matter should be stayed; that plaintiff never sought any medical treatment and did not lose any earnings.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    None - other than physical manifestations from stress.

  • Stress, emotional distress, anxiety, depression and worry. Attorneys fees for the criminal charges $50,000 paid. Bond for bail $7,200.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $100,000 plus
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $11,000 attorneys fees in criminal case; $7,200 bond on bail.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None.

Additional Notes

Defendants offered $300,000 under Rule 68 to settle this matter. On Friday, November 14, 2014, defendants indicated they were willing to increase their offer. On Monday, November 17, 2014, defendants offered more money, but there were contingencies to the settlement. Judge Wilson empaneled a jury. Both sides gave opening statements. Plaintiff put on a sergeant who placed Valento at the Bassett home on the first arrest and stated that Valento participated in the probable cause determination. Defendants cross-examined the sergeant.

Plaintiff's counsel called defendant Valento as the second witness and fully examined him. Defendants were completing their cross at 5:00 p.m. when the defendants announced the contingencies were removed. Case settled. 

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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