Retaliation against deputy trainee who reported illegal stops and arrests. $8.1M. Los Angeles County.

Summary

LA County Sheriffs Department captain retaliates against deputy who reported misconduct.

The Case

  • Case Name: Andrew Rodriguez v. County of Los Angeles
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC680213
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, October 04, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, October 19, 2017
  • Type of Action: Employment, Whistleblower
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Susan Bryant-Deason
  • Plaintiffs:
    Andrew Rodriguez, 37.
  • Defendants:
    County of Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $8,155,000
  • Economic Damages:

    Past economic loss: $285,000

    Future economic loss: $1,330,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $2,500,000

    Future: $4,000,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    None.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 18 Days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day + 1 hour
  • Jury Polls: Unanimous as to all legal questions and economic damages. 11-1 on non-economic damages only.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Romero Law, APC by Alan Romero, Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Collins Collins et al LLP by Tom Guterres and Christian Foy Nagy, South Pasadena.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    None.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Johnny G. Jurado, law enforcement use of force/police practices, Huntington Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy trainee at City of Industry Station who reported illegal stops and arrests to the Industry Station captain.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the Industry Station captain, now Undersheriff Tim Murakami, refused to investigate the deputies alleged to have engaged in misconduct, and instead began a campaign of retaliation and harassment against Deputy Rodriguez, in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Plaintiff brought an action alleging: (1) FEHA Retaliation; and (2) FEHA Harassment. Under Murakami, Industry Station initiated three Internal Affairs investigations against Deputy Rodriguez, and forged documents alleging that Deputy Rodriguez threatened to murder a suspect.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The County of Los Angeles denied all wrongdoing, and alleged that all investigations into Deputy Rodriguez were non-retaliatory and within policy. 

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Plaintiff suffered from hypertension and gastrointestinal complications which later resulted in GI surgery. 

  • Plaintiff sought three years of past lost salary, and 28 years of 50% salary to compensate plaintiff for having to make a career change. 

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $285,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $1,330,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: MSC demand of $1,400,000
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $15,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Counter-offer of $25,000 at MSC.
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: $40,000

Additional Notes

Per plaintiff's counsel:

Several documents were proved to have been forged or otherwise altered in violation of Department policy. The jurors found the Sheriff's Department witnesses to be  lacking in credibility.

Per defense counsel:

    There was no finding of “forgery,” although that was an argument at trial.

Plaintiff declined a position at another station offered in 2018. 

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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