County Spends $145 Million Battling Lawsuits

LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles County spent more than $145 million fighting and paying for lawsuits alleging wrongful conviction, excessive use of force, medical malpractice and violation of federal clean water laws, among other claims, during fiscal year 2016-17, according to a report received Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
The data, originally requested in November, was approved without any comment from the board as a "receive and file" item.
The report was not on a list of pre-board meeting "highlights" published weekly by the county’s public information office, though the $1.3 million purchase of a mobile compounding pharmacy was listed as an item of interest.
Twenty-one settlements in all topped $1 million, accounting for almost three-quarters of total settlements paid.
Of the nine judgments granted, three were in excess of $1 million and all those involved the Sheriff’s Department.
The number of total new cases filed fell to 707, the lowest total in the last seven years, according to the report.
The Sheriff’s Department saw a 40 percent decline in excessive force cases and deputy-involved shooting cases were down by one-third, though the department still ranked number one in litigation costs, spending $68.6 million.
Nearly 300 cases filed related to lower-profile issues such as auto liability and dangerous conditions.
A separate annual report on county risk management — also filed without comment by the board — noted that 187 employment claims unrelated to workers’ compensation were filed against the county in 2016-17, an almost 30 percent increase over the prior year.
The county won about 40 percent of the 20 cases it took to trial in 2016-17 and received verdicts of less than the plaintiffs asked for 70 percent of the time.

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