Cops sue job and win big E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Anyone that knows anything about law enforcement knows that one of the biggest headaches in the game is lawsuits. But while most cops are quick to lament the monies paid out to claimants that have alleged police misconduct, there is another massive expenditure associated with lawsuits and public safety. Those are the payouts made to police officers that have sued their departments.
In Los Angeles for example, the city has paid out about $110 million in jury awards and settlements for lawsuits that police officers have brought against the Police Department over a six-year period.

That figure comes from an audit report released recently.

As part of the audit, the Los Angeles Police Commission's inspector general focused on the $31 million paid out in employment liability, He  mostly selected those with either a large payout by the city or high demand by the plaintiff.

Those cases accounted for 27 of the 99 claims that were closed over the six-year period ending in June 2012. The analysis doesn't include workers' compensation claims.

According to the numbers, the audit found that 41 percent of the cases analyzed were settled instead of going to trial.

Awards in those settled cases averaged $500,000, ranging from $75,000 for a medical discrimination case to $2.25 million for a sexual harassment case.

Of the 13 lawsuits that reached a trial verdict, 10 of those were in favor of the officer, and the cases took an average of three years to conclude.
Awards averaged about $2 million.

In cases where the outcome was favorable for the department it took an average of 2.3 years to litigate the case.

In all, it cost the city nearly $43 million to litigate the employment liability cases, the report states.

Oddly, the LAPD does not appear to draw lessons from the cases or provide guidance to managers on dealing with employment issues, the audit said. In addition the department has no system to identify and analyze why cases aren't ending in their favor so department policies and practices can be adjusted in order to save money.

The audit’s recommendations include the implementation of a mediation program to reduce the numbers of lawsuits.

Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said the union is looking forward to the mediation program and is anxious to reduce the amount of litigation damages that the city is paying out by improving the working environment for our employees.

"And we think we can do that long, long before it gets to some of these outrageous" amounts in cases stretched out over years, he said.


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