LAPD retaliates against lieutenant who requests accommodation after on-the-job injury. $4.3M. Los Angeles County.
LAPD officer claims he was subjected to years of retaliation including lost promotions after he was marked by superiors as a "problem child."
- Case Name: Lou Vince v. City Of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC704165
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, May 09, 2022
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, April 27, 2018
- Type of Action: Discrimination, ADA, Employment
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephen I. Goorvitch
- Plaintiffs: Lou Vince, 49, Lieutenant I
- Defendants: City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department, Does 1 through 100
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $4,371,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $4,371,000
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 2 weeks
- Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
McNicholas & McNicholas LLP by Matthew S. McNicholas and Douglas Winter, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Office of the City Attorney by James Autrey and Susan Rim, Los Angeles. (For City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department, Does 1 through 100.)
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Marianne Inouye, economics, Pasadena.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
On Feb. 10, 2015, plaintiff underwent a spinal fusion surgery for a back injury sustained on his job with the LAPD. Plaintiff claimed that in the weeks after his surgery, his commanding officer pushed him to come back to work full-duty, telling him that they would "find a light duty accommodation for you." Plaintiff returned to work, expecting the department would find a light duty accommodation for him.
As weeks and months went by with plaintiff repeatedly asking for the accommodation, none was given. Finally, when the specific light duty position that plaintiff had originally been promised was given to someone else, plaintiff immediately complained to his commander that such was a refusal to accommodate, and discrimination because he had asked for an accommodation. From the moment that complaint was made, plaintiff claims he underwent five years of "we'll teach you a lesson" treatment, which included multiple, short-term involuntary transfers around the department, marking him as a “problem child” who was not promotable.
At one point, plaintiff was told that if he did not get on board, that his wife's career (who was also an LAPD officer), would be in jeopardy. When plaintiff’s wife discovered that command staff had kept a secret file on plaintiff and plaintiff filed an internal complaint, plaintiff was put in the “penalty box,” which was a cubicle in the corner of a room, for 18 months with no subordinates, despite being a Lieutenant, no duties, and having to take orders from a civilian who ranked below him.
After more than three years of adverse actions, including being passed over dozens of times for promotion, and after exhausting every possibility to avoid litigation, plaintiff filed this case. As a result of the conditions he was subjected to, plaintiff testified he would retire early, forgoing several years of salary and pension vesting.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That after plaintiff was injured on duty and required surgery, the defendant police department failed to accommodate his disability and failed to engage in an interactive process in violation of FEHA. That after plaintiff reported that he was not accommodated and was being discriminated against on account of his disability, he was retaliated against in violation of FEHA.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant contended it subjected plaintiff to adverse employment actions for legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Back injury and emotional distress.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $871,000