Hispanic cousins claim excessive force by Long Beach police officers. $1.625 million.

Summary

Early morning confrontation between two police officers and a group of Hispanics leads to arrests and claims of police brutality. Permanent injury claimed.

 

The Case

  • Case Name: Miguel Contreras and Miguel Vasquez v. City of Long Beach, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: USDC Central District CA / cv12-9923, CV 13-3227PJW
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, October 03, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
  • Type of Action: Excessive Force, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Patrick Walsh
  • Plaintiffs:
    Miguel Contreras; Miguel Vasquez
  • Defendants:
    City of Long Beach; Lt. David Faris; Officer Michael Hynes
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,625,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,625,000 plus fees and costs to be determined.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Vasquez: $375,000

    Contreras: $1,250,000

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

    Contreras: $175,000

    Vasquez: $7,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    None awarded.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days.
  • Jury Polls: Aug-00
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Pending.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Beck Law Firm by Thomas E. Beck, Los Alamitos.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Office of the City Attorney by Howard Russell, Long Beach.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Babak Samimi, M.D., orthopedic surgery,  West Covina. (Treating physician.)

    Bennett Williamson, Ph.D., Psychology, Los Angeles. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Geoffrey Miller, M.D., orthopedic surgery, El Segundo.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    David Duesenbury, police practices, former deputy Chief of Police, Long Beach.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Curtis Cope, police practices, Huntington Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On November 27, 2010 plaintiff Miguel Contreras and Armando Nunez were visiting their cousin, plaintiff Miguel Vasquez. At 2 a.m., they heard a disturbance next door, went outside to look.  They encountered defendant police officers confronting several Hispanics.  

    The confrontation grew more heated and now included plaintiffs. 

    Vasquez was arrested for allegedly assaulting defendant Faris and resisting arrest. Contreras was cuffed and transported to community hospital ER, and received immediate surgery.

    Vasquez filed a complaint with internal affairs but it was not investigated. Contreras filed a complaint in May 2011.

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That when plaintiff Vasquez went outside, he found defendant Officer Faris yelling at three people who were kneeling on the sidewalk. One of the people kneeling was a friend of Vasquez's.

    Vasquez asked the officer what was going on, stating that was his friend on the ground. Words between them ensued. Defendant Officer Faris walked over to Vasquez and pushed him, stating "I'll touch you any time I want, you understand!" Defendant Faris then allegedly threw Vasquez to the ground and began hitting him with a baton.

    Plaintiff Contreras allegedly witnessed Faris clubbing Vasquez and told Faris to stop. Faris allegedly continued to hit Vasquez when defendant Officer Hynes approached from behind and, without saying a word, struck Contreras on the back, then again and again, knocking him to the pavement and fracturing his left arm.

    Nunez and other witnesses started shouting to the officers to stop hurting the cousins. One witness phoned 911 to report the beatings  and was told to call internal affairs. The witness called internal affairs, received no answer, called 911 again and was told that supervisors were on the scene.

    Plaintiffs contended that defendant officers conspired to hide Faris' assault and baton use against Vasquez. That the officers filed false reports claiming Vasquez disobeyed an order to leave and took a swipe at Faris and resisted arrest.

    That the officers' use of weapons was unauthorized and out of policy.

    Contreras contended that Officer Hynes hit him at least 19 times with his baton, causing massive injuries, and then attempted to frame him on a resisting arrest charge.

    Alleged false arrest and malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That Faris and Hynes did nothing wrong, told the truth and were victimized by plaintiffs and their out-of-control witnesses; that the officers did not falsify their reports, did not mislead prosecutors and did not under the circumstances use unreasonable force.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Contreras – fractured elbow joint with nerve damage. Fractures held together with appliances, second surgery three years later to remove hardware and relocate nerve. Severe emotional distress, PTSD, depression, anxiety, still in counseling at time of trial. Permanently maimed and crippled by baton strikes. Work as a journalist impaired by inability to use left hand on keyboard.

  • $31,000 cost of defending phony criminal accusations brought against Contreras by LBPD in reprisal for his complaints to internal affairs.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $175,000
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Unknown
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None claimed.
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None claimed.

Demands and Offers

  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $50,000 to Vasquez and $475,000 to Contreras.

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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