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Excessive Force Payouts Climb For Third Straight Year, County Counsel Reports

Jonathan Tolliver |
February 17, 2015 | 6:04 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

County Counsel (Jonathan Tolliver/Neon Tommy)
County Counsel (Jonathan Tolliver/Neon Tommy)
Los Angeles County paid out $24.2 million to plaintiffs in excessive force lawsuits in fiscal year 2013-2014, said Steven Estabrook, a litigation cost manger in the office of the County Counsel.

Estabrook presented to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about litigation expenses. He said that payouts stemming from lawsuits against the Sheriff’s Dept. were 80 percent of total litigation costs. Money paid to excessive force complainants increased for the third straight year, Estabrook said. 

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, 3rd District, questioned why the county was being sued for the same type of incident multiple times. She said the County needs to be more proactive in tracking and stemming rising excessive force complaints.

“It seems mostly like we wait until we’re sued,” she said.

Money paid in suits against the County Dept. of Public Health totaled a little over $2 million, more than double that of the previous year. Estabrook said the spike is an aberration. He said a lawsuit filed by Aids Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein was largely responsible for the jump.

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