LA City Council LA County Board of Supervisors LASD

County Litigation Figures, and LA County and City Approve Big-Ticket Settlements


LA County spent $118.9 million during fiscal year 2014-2015, an increase of 24% over the $95.6 million spent in FY 2013-14 according to a new report from County Counsel.

The LA County Sheriff’s Department alone spent $61 million on litigation, up 50%—$20 million—over the previous year’s $40 million. The LASD spent more than half—$33.5 million—on excessive force incidents, most of which were patrol cases (only 3.7% were jail cases). The excessive force cost was up nearly $10 million over the previous year.

Much of these cases date back several years. So while the sum paid out for law enforcement cases has risen over the past few years, instances of excessive use of force are actually declining. A report from the County CEO’s Office, also presented to the board Tuesday, says that use of force numbers dropped 22% from fiscal year 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.

Nearly half of the total $118.9 million was spent on litigation via attorneys’ fees and costs.

“Every cent the county spends on litigation is precious funding that we cannot use to house the homeless, promote better health and wellness for children, upskill our workforce and provide countless other needed services to our communities,” said LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis in a statement.


After County Counsel presented a breakdown of last year’s legal costs to the Supervisors, the board approved a $1.6 million settlement in a lawsuit against the LASD over the fatal shooting of an 80-year-old man, Eugene Robert Mallory, in his home.

The LA Times Abby Sewell has more on the settlement. Here’s a clip:

The deputies were serving a search warrant at Mallory’s home in the community of Littlerock near Palmdale in June 2013 while investigating reports of a suspected meth lab.

No evidence of methamphetamine was found. Sheriff’s officials at the time said that marijuana was discovered on the property.

Mallory’s wife filed a wrongful death suit against the department. According to a statement released by her attorneys at the time, deputies claimed that Mallory had confronted them with a gun, but his wife said he was “sleeping in his bed when he was confronted and shot without warning.”

In a memo to the supervisors, county attorneys said the county denies the allegations in the lawsuit but recommended settling the case “due to the risks and uncertainties of litigation.”


The LA City Council has approved $24.3 million in settlements to two men, Kash Delano Register and Bruce Lisker, who spent decades behind bars for murders they did not commit.

The city will pay $16.7 million to Kash Delano Register, who spent 34 years in prison, and $7.6 million to Bruce Lisker, who spent 26 years in prison after being falsely convicted of killing his mother when he was 17.

CBS has the story. Here’s a clip:

Register had been convicted of the April 6, 1979, shooting death of 79-year-old Jack Sasson in West Los Angeles. A key witness in the case, Brenda Anderson, testified that she saw Register at the crime scene. Register was found guilty despite claims by his girlfriend that she was with him at the time.

Anderson’s sister, Sharon, testified at a court hearing in 2013 that her sibling had lied. According to attorneys for the Project for the Innocent, another Anderson sister tried to tell police investigating the shooting in 1979 that Brenda had lied to authorities, but the claim was never presented to Register’s defense attorney.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Katherine Mader ruled that the prosecution had failed to disclose exculpatory evidence and used false testimony at Register’s trial. That ruling cleared the way for the then-53-year-old Register’s release in 2013…

Register’s New York-based attorney, Nick Brustin, said he is “hopeful that Los Angeles will build on this settlement by adopting reforms to their eyewitness identification procedures.”

“This case should also be a lesson to Los Angeles and other cities to take a hard look at other cases where inmates proclaim their innocence, even where, as here, there was no remaining physical evidence to do testing like DNA,” he said.


Lisker was convicted in 1985 of second-degree murder and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for the death of his 66-year-old mother, Dorka, who was found stabbed and beaten to death in their Sherman Oaks home in 1983, when he was 17 years old.

A Los Angeles Times investigation in 2005 called into question much of the evidence in Lisker’s trial, and his conviction was overturned in August 2009 by a federal judge in Riverside, who ruled that false evidence had been used and that Lisker had inadequate legal representation.


  • I don’t know which is worse……..The Sheriff’s Department for its criminal actions or the District Attorney’s Office for its inaction. Slowly but ever so surely, the taxpayers who were in the dark now see the light. I’m sure that the cost of legal representation for the deputies involved, has to be relative to the ” Big Ticket” settlements as well. Criminal Justice is coming full circle. Board of Supervisors……You have your cue card to dig in and go to work.

  • If the County Counsel would stop farming out lawsuits to firms that bill big $$$ hourly, the county could save a ton on legal fees. There is no up side for contract law firms to settle cases since they bill hourly.

  • “Excessive force” and “Failure to Protect” in the same litigious equation. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • Look at the facts which are directly similar to The Probation Department and every other County agency, it is not their individual dollars that are doled out. I might add that same script applies to the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. They spend money like there is no tomorrow and it’s done because………its not their personal & individual money. Accountability is the standard for any entity, specifically for public servants and government employees.

  • A little LASD History 101 if you don’t mind. In the early 90’s Sheriff Block implemented the Risk Management Bureau (RMB). This followed a major civil case lost by the LASD in which the LASD had not properly documented and preserved evidence after a significant force incident in the City of Cerritos. Sheriff Block charged the RMB with decreasing the LASD’s liability and monetary losses due to civil litigation and worker’s compensation cases – it would be the first such Law Enforcement unit of its type in the country. The RMB began developing internal controls and tools that would lesson the LASD’s potential losses should it face civil litigation and to eliminate issues which might result in litigation. One of the tools developed by RMB was force roll-out teams which were deployed when there were significant incidents or uses of force by deputies. These teams were tasked with thoroughly documenting the incident for potential use in future civil court proceedings, document extent of injuries and/or damage and/or on-scene reimbursement for individuals who may have had property damage. Among many of the “internal tools” that were developed was a department-wide use-of-force tracking system of personnel and the development of a committee of Commanders who monitored and mentored Deputies who had a high incidence of uses of force. Neither of these programs were meant as disciplinary tools but were used to identify potential problems and help mentor employees.

    During the late 90’s the LASD also implemented their version of NYPD’s COMPSTAT – a monthly tribunal where unit commanders where grilled on their crime statistics. The LASD’s version (called Sheriff’s Critical Issues Forum – SCIF) extended the NYPD model well beyond crime stats. In SCIF each Unit Commander was grilled on their crime statistics AND their “Risk Management” statistics. Why was their “use of force” going up? Why did they have so many Deputies off injured? Why did they have so many preventable traffic accidents? What have they done about the upward trend in pursuit in their area? Or in the case of a jail commander they might be asked questions about inmate-on-inmate violence or inmate injury rate. These questions were asked by the Department’s top brass, Assistant Sheriffs. An unchecked upward trend was not tolerated. It forced the unit commanders to have a finger on the pulse of their commands and had to articulate their solutions to problems to the Department’s top brass. Unit Commanders hated these tribunals – just ask one – but they were a very effective management tool – those same unit commanders will now admit that as well.

    From the formation of RMB until the time that Sheriff Baca took office there was an emphasis on the LASD’s efforts in the risk management arena and, as a result, there was a dramatic downward spiral in all of the LASD’s monetary losses due to civil litigation and worker’s compensation claims. By any measurement the LASD’s risk management efforts were an unqualified success.

    However, when Sheriff Baca came in to office, that emphasis evaporated. It was like a switch had been thrown – there was no risk management effort at all – SCIF disappeared within months of Baca coming in to office, the roll-out teams ceased to exist as did the committee of Commanders monitoring deputies. Many of the other innovations that were implemented – space prohibits discussion – likewise disappeared. The RMB had ZERO “juice” at HQ, and quickly faded in to the background. The LASD, which was once the innovator in law enforcement Risk Management quickly slipped back to the stone age of cops and robbers.

    What is doubly sad is that none of this needed to happen. Processes and procedures were in place for the LASD to have policed itself. All it needed was a little backing from the administration. But the Baca administration did not CARE about the LASD. It did not care about the Deputies who sometimes needed a little tough love from their supervisors. Did not care about the citizens of LA County. Did not care about the taxpayers who have to foot the bill of excessive litigation. All Leroy, Paul, Bill, Larry, and Little Paul cared about was themselves and what they could get for themselves. Sad, simply sad.

  • The untold story in this article is how the LASD’s managers and executives use the taxpayer funded shield of unlimited legal resources to discriminate, retaliate, and harass their employees, knowing the Board of Supervisors will continue to fund their nefarious activity. Exhibit A is the recent punitive damages against Lee Baca. Watch the board pick up the tab quietly, sending a loud and clear message to all incumbent execs: keep doing whatever you want, no matter how illegal, we’ll stick the taxpayer with the bill.

  • Thanks to the executives, “settlement” is officially synonymous with “guilty”. When will LASD start taking on lawsuit trolls instead of handing out checks to people who know they won’t be challenged on the legality of their claim.

  • I was just watching an interview with three surviving members of the “Benghazi” consulate attack. It reminded me of the special bond police officers share with each other. So for the POS Executives on the Department that never had to “put it on the line” for their brother and sister officers, KMA because quite frankly you couldn’t carry their “war bags”. I’m only speaking of those Executives that never endured the harsh realities of the street, yet are able to pass judgment on their subordinates without the requisite knowledge and experience. You know who you are…..and so do we.

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