LASD Law Enforcement Los Angeles County Los Angeles County Sheriff

LA County Spent $81.5 Million on LASD Litigation Costs and Payouts Last Year

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department cost county taxpayers $81.5 million in litigation expenses during the last fiscal year, 2018-2019 — a considerable increase over the previous year’s $62.1 million tab, data from County Counsel show.

Among the sheriff’s department’s high profile payouts was a pot of $7.1 million in damages and legal fees to Heriberto Rodriguez and other Men’s Central Jail inmates whom deputies brutally beat and shocked with Tasers in 2008, after they refused to leave their cells in protest of a fellow inmate’s beating. The incarcerated men suffered broken bones, including skull fractures.

In 2015, a federal judge approved the payout of $5 million in legal fees in addition to $950,000 in damages awarded by a federal jury. (The total award was later increased to more than $7 million.)

Peter Eliasberg, who at the time, was the ACLU of Southern California’s legal director, stressed that the county could have avoided paying most of that $6 million by settling for less than $1 million when they had the chance.

The sheriff’s department’s 2018-2019 legal tab also includes a $5.8 million judgment stemming from a near-fatal 2010 incident in which LASD officers searching for an AWOL parolee busted into an inhabited backyard shack without first knocking or identifying themselves, and without a warrant. Seeing one of the inhabitants, Angel Mendez, holding a BB gun, the deputies shot both Mendez, Jennifer Garcia, who was pregnant. Neither Mendez nor Garcia was the missing person on parole.

The county’s most expensive settlement — $7 million — was the result of a wrongful conviction. Frank O’Connell was convicted of killing Jay French in 1984 without any physical evidence tying him to the murder. O’Connell spent 27 years in prison, because of the testimony of one eyewitness (who later recanted), and detectives’ withholding of exculpatory evidence. The lawsuit was settled for $15 million, split between fiscal years 2017-2018 ($8 million) and 2018-2019 ($7 million).

A settlement of $2.25 million also went to two of the six women whom former LASD deputy Giancarlo Scotti was charged with sexually assaulting when each of the six was confined to the county’s primary women’s jail, Century Regional Detention Center, in Lynwood. Scotti, who pleaded no contest to eight counts of sexual activity with the incarcerated women was sentenced to two years in State prison. (This is just one of several payouts totaling $5,175,000 — with more potentially high-ticket lawsuits still making their way through the pipeline.)

Six more high-dollar settlements resulted from “excessive-force shooting fatalities involving the Sheriff’s Department,” according to County Counsel. Among those six payouts was a $2.4 million payment toward the county’s $14.3 million settlement in the death of Frank Mendoza.

LASD deputies accidentally fatally shot Mendoza during a hostage situation in 2014. The officers were attempting to apprehend Cedric Ramirez, an armed man on parole who hid behind the Mendoza family’s house, before breaking into the home and holding Mendoza’s wife hostage. When Mendoza tried to leave the home through his front door, deputies opened fire, shooting the 54-year-old grandfather in the head.

The county also paid a $4.6 million settlement in the fatal shooting of William Bowers, an unarmed homeless man in Castaic. In another high-profile case, Anthony Weber’s daughter, Violet Weber — who was an infant when deputies shot her 16-year-old father as he fled on foot through an apartment complex in 2018 — received $3.75 million.

Another $2.7 million settlement went to the family of Miguel Hernandez, killed by a deputy during a traffic stop.

The County’s Rising Legal Costs

Overall, LA County’s litigation costs jumped 9 percent in fiscal year 2018-2019, to $148.5 million, over the previous year’s $135.7 million, according to the latest annual litigation report, which County Counsel is slated to present to the LA County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 18.

This most recent jump, which can be traced to an increase of $17.7 million in judgments and settlements over the previous year, continues a more than decade-long upward trend for the county’s spending on legal costs and payouts.

In total, the county paid $91.5 million in judgments and settlements and $57 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.

The county paid $31.1 million in judgments, specifically, in FY 2018-19, a jump of 147 percent from the $12.6 million spent in FY 2017-18. Nine of the 16 judgments were against the sheriff’s department, totaling $16.4 million last year, compared with $10.2 million in 2017-2018.

During the last fiscal year, the county settled 240 lawsuits to the tune of $60.4 million, a slight decrease from the previous year’s figure.

Additionally, legal fees and costs hit $57 million last year, down from $62 million paid during the previous year.

DCFS’s 2018-2019 Legal Tab Was $10 Million Higher Than in the Previous Year

The county department with the second-highest litigation tab was the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which racked up $17.1 in legal bills, including two judgments that cost taxpayers a combined $11.5 million. DCFS’s litigation total represented an increase of more than $10 million over the $6 million that the county spent on DCFS litigation during FY 2017-2018.

The county paid the first $5.5 million of a $10.5 million judgment in the case of an El Monte girl, after LA County social workers left in her mother’s care, where she was subsequently abused by at least four men, and as many as 15. Jurors awarded the girl $45.4 million, and placed 45 percent of the blame on DCFS and the social workers who failed to protect the girl in spite of evidence that she was at high risk for being abused. The county was originally on the hook for $20.7 million, but was able to reduce the amount to $10.5 million.

Another big payout in a case against DCFS — this one for $6 million — went to Rafaelina Duval, after a jury concluded that DCFS social workers wrongfully seized Duval’s baby after accusing the woman of general neglect and of starving her son.

54 Comments

  • RIDICULOUS!
    TO TOP THAT, THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT WANTS TO BUCK AGAINST THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AND MAX HUNTSMAN.

    BUCKLE UP FOR THE ENSUING RIDE

  • A lot more to come. Lawsuits by Deputies suing the Department under AV. The shit storm has just started. He has lowered hiring standards and protected his boys from ELA. Oh wait AV does not want oversight. Hey AV do you want to sell off your assets to pay for the lawsuits.

    • Yawn. Can you identify which hiring standard he’s allegedly lowered? Deputies have been suing the department since Christ was a corporal. Got anything better? BTW, your boy McIdiot did all he could to ensure absolutely nothing happened to his beloved Bandidos. Looks like Sheriff V is the only one who’s taken positive action.

      • Keep Dreaming – You sound like the smallest violin in the world, and my heart cry’s for thou. At least McDonnell got rid of guys who crossed the line. AV on the other hand promotes the Captain at ELA ( the Bandido Captain ) to Commander. McDonnell did not promote his lap dog Sergeant to Captain in just over a year just because he sniffs his ass.
        McDonnell did not re-hire fired Deputies who beat their wives’/girlfriends up.
        And McDonnell sure did not hire family members with criminal backgrounds.

        You want more

        • But he did allow his executives to lie under oath. Ask Joe Wooden! How about Diana Teran and the exutives who got off by getting let go? How is Alhambra PD k. Fraser??? Mcbuckles was a nightmare!!

        • Ah, ignorance is bliss. McIdiot rehired FOURTEEN deputies, including one famous one who found the time in his busy schedule to beat not one but THREE girlfriends. Please point out who went from sergeant to captain in a little over a year. That would be news. Promoting a senior captain who is not accused of any misconduct to commander is not exactly a bad thing, unless you live in your pathetic world. Oh, and let me know when Sheriff V hires a convicted felon. Until then, keep playing your squeaky little violin.

          • Well if the 14 Deputies rehired by the McDonnell were a problem then, why o wise one did AV just promote one the Sergeants to LT. Oh wait he even jumped the line. Wait are you talking about Mandoyan, you know AV’s Senior most advisor – someone who has a record of beating women.

          • Keep dreaming, please tell me where I can find the fourteen deputies rehired by mc buckles?? That idiot had no idea what was going on. Ask Diana Tehran!!

      • Dreamer here are Villanueva’s latest requirements to promote or hire at LASD.
        1. You must be a Mexican. Preferably a paisa.
        2. You were convicted of a DUI.
        3. You must have at least 3 Domestic Violence restraining orders for beating your wife/girlfriend.
        4. You must hate blacks and treat them like animals.
        5. You must start patrol at Fort Apache ( initiation process ).
        6. The last one is the most important one – You must be liked by V or Mrs V. This condition supersedes the previous 5.

        • @ FakeNews

          Here we go again. I just got a call, telling me to look at these comments, as I have been called out (again).

          Firstly, I do not know Mrs. Villanueva and I certainly don’t “trash” her anywhere. I’m not sure what your hard on is with me, but maybe you should check your resources and facts, before calling me out, along with my husband and my SON. HOW DARE YOU.

          This is my second comment ever on WLA and I only comment under my own name

          Give it a rest and figure out who the person hurting your feeling actually is.

          My husband and I are retired and have no time for your games and accusations. My son has the utmost respect for the Sheriff, so cool your jets going there.

        • See my other reply, but as for “Henry Wissinger’s” comment, if you know me at all, I don’t talk like that. I don’t make racial comments, have never worked ELA and am very removed from the environment of what was posted.

          As for “growing a set,” I wonder how many here would do that and man up if you weren’t allowed to comment with AKAs.

        • Hmmm, weight standard was set by county DHR, not LASD, about two years ago. Grooming standard has never changed, but somewhere over the last decade some idiot decided to imitate LAPD academy standards, complete with shaved heads and matching identical black business suits, white shirts, and black ties. That was never LASD tradition. The PT standard is established by POST for the basic academy, and that has never changed either.

          Info Only, your name should be Rumor Only.

          • PT standard yes set by POST, but also accepted by LASD by choice. It wasn’t always like that.

            DHR did set weight standard but source says there was some influence there.

            Also, legacy kids get passes from what I hear. I guess that’s a rumor.

  • Keep Dreaming, bringing in an OGCF Lyn “25” Viking to lead the Bandidos is not what I would call positive action. You must be living in a Dream World. Your post are starting to sound more and more like that old poster LATBG.

  • Folks, Keep Dreaming is right, the standards were already fairly low, as low as the gut of some of these officers. They rape, we pay. They beat, we pay. They frame, we pay. I say we cut the generous pension and donut allowance. By the way, are the officers responsible for some of these payouts still heroes, as many a folk here like to think?

    • You know cf, you kinda remind me of someone. There’s this goofy ex LASD reserve deputy who claims to be a Jewish guy from east la and he loves to post nonsense on Facebook. Guy’s a real 8 ball, keeps getting kicked off Facebook for saying stupid stuff, a real law enforcement groupie, if you know what I mean. Anyways, his style reminds me of you, and being a fellow Jewish hispanic guy somewhat associated with LASD I wonder if you know him.

    • @cf…..I’ve noticed from your posts, that you are always quick to pass judgement while besmirching people you do not know. Why is that? Are you a current or former law enforcement individual who didn’t succeed and became bitter? Or are you just a troll who gets a kick out of casting aspersions on others?

  • Interesting article. A tad bit slanted however interesting in regards to the amount of litigation costs. However, as I was reading this article, I couldn’t help but notice that some of these “excessive” pay outs were from previous administrations. Am I defending anybody? Not at all. Just saying.

    I particularly liked this biased section of the article, ” an AWOL parolee..? WTF is an AWOL parolee? Is this the new euphemism for a PAL? ( For those who don’t habla, that means parolee at large). Further, that deputies, “busted into an inhabited backyard shack without first knocking or identifying themselves, and without a warrant. Seeing one of the inhabitants, Angel Mendez, holding a BB gun…”
    Ms. Walker, it appears you may have to enroll yourself in some AJ classes, since you don’t know sh*t about the law.

    Nonetheless, I did enjoy the Histograms, albeit they were solely focused on the LASD with no other comparisons, they do tend to make the information provided appear more impactful, but rather biased. Maybe a comparison to other major law enforcement agencies (i.e., LAPD, NYPD etc.) would have been nice.

    Law enforcement along with fire fighting, transportation industry, mining are industries that are high risk and litigious. This is why there is a Risk Management department to forecast and allocate budgets accordingly. However, the writer of this article (Ms. Walker aka SJW), puts out a narrative that paints LASD personnel as a bunch or ruthless, apathetic, neanderthal individuals that are running amok.

    Ms. Walker, why don’t you write an article about the BOS along with current local, city and state government agencies, to show how much taxpayer dollars they are wasting on stupid sh*t (i.e., Sanctuary City, hypodermic syringes for known drug users, a shit patrol to pick up the feces of homeless people)? I guess this type of journalism does not exist in your SJW world does it? It is much easier to slam the police, of which you rely upon so much, when someone threatens your”safe zone.”

  • Madame Kong, Cant say that I know that gentleman. As you may have deduced from my posts, I am not a law enforcement groupie. But, it does not surprise me that an ex-LASD deputy or reserve has issues and posts stupid stuff. I think you are ex-LASD, right?

    Fat Rolman, I am neither. See above regarding your question about me being ex law enforcement. I am also not a troll, although you may consider me to be one. And, talk about judgmental. Read your last post. Although I must admit that you, unlike your claim that Ms. Walker does not know shit about the law, appear very knowledgeable about shit, probably very familiar with it and and perhaps an expert in it. And, instead of bitching and whining about how Ms. Walker should write this or that article, why don’t you write one. Impress us with your brand of journalism. I must warn you, its not as easy as writing a police report. Finally, no one need “slam,” as you say, the police. When they rape, rob, murder, assault, embezzle, etc, they “slam” themselves. They are nothing more than flawed human beings with issues, like everyone else, including me. The difference is the other human beings with issues do not go around with badge and gun living out their issues and then self-congratulate themselves as heroes. And, they do not get overpaid and a sweet pension, too. I eagerly await your article.

    • @ cf- Well said. Fat Rolman is another couch potato feeding his mouth. Probably lives in an all WHITE gated neighborhood- afraid of all those brown people, or should I say the browning of America.

      Like Mt T would say I pity the fool.

      • @Henry Wissinger….I guess with a pseudo name like the one you chose that would make you a W.A.S.P. living in a gated neighborhood.

        Like George Lopez stated, “eres mas puto!”

    • Idk cf, you sure? What I have deduced from your posts is that you have a little inside info about LASD. Not a lot, not like you actually know what you’re talking about, not like a real cop. More like a hanger on, more like a groupie but angry you never got accepted into the”real” department. The guy I’m telling you about seems like that, you sure you don’t know him, you guys have a lot in common. Cf, what do you think about law enforcement reserves?

    • @cf…..since you have clarified, that you are neither in law enforcement or a troll. What then are you? Could you be a jaded individual who has had a bad experience with law enforcement, more notably LASD? Or could one of your family members and or friends have had a bad experience with the LASD? Or, are you the spokes hole for somebody else?

      If you had actually read my previous post and digested the contents of that post, while utilizing your comprehension skills, you would have deduced that I was stating that the article was, in my opinion, biased. I was not being judgmental. Further, the quotes I referenced from the article, were to shed an additional overview, into the writer’s bias.

      I do not claim to be a journalist either. I am merely expressing my opinion on the article. Just as you express your opinion, coupled with your slanted viewpoint about law enforcement (i.e. referring to law enforcement as pigs). Just like you make reference to my name as “Fat” rather than Pat. In case you may have forgotten, this is a forum to read posted articles and comment (opinion) on said articles. However, in your zeal to denigrate people, you skim the contents of the opinions and resort to name calling.

      Lastly, I know I had suggested in the past, that when you post your rebuttals, to try and write something that is coherent, grammatically correct, with proper syntax and punctuation. Maybe you can impress us with your writing skills.

    • @ Stops – I remember who actually sued for not getting promoted – wait for it – wait for it – Oh got it – the Current Sheriff of Los Angeles County – Bandido # 1 Alex Villanueva.

      • Wussinger, you must have missed the part where our current sheriff worked ELA almost three decades ago, long before the term Bandido was ever floated. You also fell asleep during the CCJV hearings, where the Tanaka pay to play scandal was clearly established. If Villanueva had the guts to challenge Tanaka back then by suing, God bless him. What was he supposed to do, cower in a corner? That’s why he’s now the sheriff and you’re here talking shit anonymously.

      • @Henry Wissinger

        Could you stop being a dick please? You apparently have a hard on for ELA … not my station. Some ass, “FakeNews,” went off on me because of your comments.

        I have never had my feeling broken on this job, but was pretty much threatened by “FakeNews” about who his “money would be on.”??? And my son mentioned?

        Name yourself, or stop. It’s so hard to believe these are grown f$&@?!g adults here.

    • Can’t argue that. There are instances when it doesn’t work but just like most things, the lawyer you have and extenuating circumstances such as gender, sexual orientation, religion and race all have bearing. I don’t think a black person has as much chance of proving discriminating in this day in age as this group is not the “soup de jour” so to speak with regards to playing the wronged victim card.

      I do wonder what will happen when folks starts bringing discrimination suits against organizations where the majority once “minority” is overtly practicing blatant discrimination? How will this play out in court.

  • Pat Rolman: CF is not even the original CF. The original CF was Hispanic and grew up in Compton I believe. This guy is obviously an ex cop and troll. With nothing better to do CF sits in front of the computer in his fruit of the loom underwear and T-shirt. No much of a life but it gives him a reason for getting up in the morning. Like the old saying “you can’t argue with a drunk”. The same can be said if CF. Don’t waste your breath

  • Stops – You mean Villanueva was an inferior employee right. Well he is still an inferior Sheriff – guy can’t even complete sentences when he talks.

  • Madame Kong, you ask what I think of law enforcement reserves? Do you really have no idea what I think of them? Perhaps you can deduce my opinion of those fine folks from my opinion of you and your ilk.

    Mr. Rolman – you were not being judgmental? Are you serious? Your comment that Ms. Walker did not know shit was not passing judgment on her or her article. That is all you do, pass judgment. And, I do not call you or your ilk pigs. Celeste will not allow it. And, as far as you being fat, if you tell me you are not fat, I will not call you fat. It has been my experience that any officer over 50 or 55, especially those on motorcycle duty are overweight, if not obese. Finally, you are correct, my English is, if it makes you feel better, worser than yours. No doubt you were one of the more better cops on the force. (Is that better?) I do not hide my ignorance. I am ignorant. In fact, as I mentioned to madame Kong, that is why I like this site. It makes me feel smart.

    Bandwagon, surely you made detective. You busted me. Tell me, do you imagine me often sitting in my fruit of the loom underwear and t-shirt?

  • Cf, half of your comments are angry rants complaining about cops making more money than you. Seeing how reserves don’t get paid, maybe you have a different opinion regarding them, why not enlighten us? Let’s see if you can do that without going into your usual ad hominem nonsense.

  • Dear Fake News, Henry Wissinger, and others,

    Your viciousness and your foul language have no place here.

    Clean it up.

    Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

    C.

    • Celeste, the saddest part of your warning is that it even had to be done at all. Law enforcement is a family, and families squabble from time to time, but the state of discourse these days is sickening.

      • @Kim Brink

        Then you should be cognizant when you post hateful shit about the Sheriff and his wife on LASD PAST AND PRESENT page. Even though it’s a private group, it’s still viewed by 1000’s. For you to now deny you ever talked shit about the Sheriff and/or his wife, i wish this blog has the option of attaching screen shots. You’re now worried because you got exposed and don’t want to get your son wrapped up in your nonsense.

        You of all people have zero reason why you’d be talking shit about the man or his wife. Only thing i can think of is Ray and Brian encouraged you to do it. Stay in your lane and be your own person. Don’t let those idiots get you wrapped up in their mess.

        • I won’t deny I have liked, or agreed with a P and P post, but I have never posted about the Sheriff, or his wife. I am very much my own person, so your comment makes it very clear that you don’t know me.

          To suggest that I would “run amok” is laughable, as is your assumption that Ray, or Brian “egged” me on to comment about anything. Yes, they are my friends and interestingly, we only have one person in common that we have spoken about as a group after a very inappropriate text was sent to me by said person.

          Weird how you would mention those names, unless you were that person (or closely tied to). You never worked UC evidently… you would know better than to share names that were involved in that one conversation. Bad detective work FakeNews.

          Not sure what I did do make you so butt hurt, but I’m tired of you bringing my husband into it. Bringing my son into it really crossed the line. Man up and put your name on your keyboard warrior attacks CS.

          I don’t feel the need to hide behind an AKA. It speaks volumes to me that you do.

  • It seems to me that EVEN IF Kim said something about someone, it would be HER opinion. It has NOTHING to do with her son.

    It’s widely known Mrs. Sheriff is increasingly involved in decision making for the Department (just ask any of AV’s drivers and how they feel about her). That involvement (and her decisions) make her fair game for criticism.

    There are lots of stupid comments on this site from people who can’t argue effectively or don’t have positions that are defensible, so they immediately insult and attack the person instead of the person’s point.

    To go after someone’s son or daughter, however, is indefensible and cowardly. I’m not surprised it’s coming from someone who’s an AV apologist.

    There are lot’s of people on this site who I never respond to because of insulting or racist comments they’ve made (which Celeste is ok with as long as it’s directed at white people). A few more have just been added to the list.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt once said Great Minds discuss ideas, Average Minds discuss events, and Small Minds discuss people.

  • @LASD Apostle

    “Ask any of the drivers?” We thought you were long retired. Which is it clown boy.

    The Sheriff’s wife has every right to help her husband. She also spent a lifetime in the department as well. What do you expect her to do, sit around and watch all you self serving, power hungry, self loathing, righteous idiots sliver your way around? Negative PPOA boy. That’s what’s driving you morons crazy. You’re not going anywhere and have nothing coming.

    Finally, since you’re coming out in defense of Kim after you egged her on to chime in here, i wonder what she’d be doing if Burt was the Sheriff. Knowing her, she’d be running amok.

    I’d agree to leave family out as long as you cowards do the same.

    In closing, the 4 of you guys may want to alter your writing styles. Your FB posts on your own pages, LASD Sworn and LASD Past and present pages are all the same. On top of you getting snitched out by your friends on your identities. Just a little bit of advise. You guys were never known for your brains.

    • @FakeNews…Geez, get over yourself. Someday, when you discover I never said any of the things you accused me of, I hope you will be as quick to set the record straight, as you were to falsely accuse me.
      I’m sure you won’t ever man up, or admit you are wrong. I don’t really care… I sleep well at night. Except for some f the things you have said. Kinda threatening and mentioning my family.

  • @ Kim Brink

    Are you still here looking for attention? There’s screen shots of your comments with you talking shit about the Sheriff and his wife… That’s a fact!

    Stop denying it and MAN UP yourself. Stop being a typical bully. Btw, no one threatened you. We know how accusatory and litigious you are when things don’t go your way. You can sure dish it out but can’t take it. Get over yourself.

    Also, mentioning your family like you mention the Sheriff’s wife isn’t a threat. You were never a cop to know that. Save your threats, I’ve been around long enough to know what I can and can’t say.

    You got the attention you were looking for, now go away. You and these other retired turds are like bad pennies, you never go away. Just keep popping up when no one needs or wants you.

  • I would hope with all my heart that the siblings and offspring of department members current and retired can and will be judged on their own merits an not on the shortcomings or “outstanding ness “ of their family members. I was average. I hope my son is and can be accepted as outstanding!

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