• Police litigation is both multi-faceted and multi-layered, requiring outside counsel to have the experience and savvy to deal with complex issues of law, convoluted fact patterns, internal administrative and political issues, media concerns, and aggressive opponents.

    Our ability to properly assess, plan, and execute a focused litigation strategy is demonstrated by our numerous positive results that we have achieved for our clients in our police/tort matters. Our firm’s representation in this area has covered a wide variety of potential claims – civil rights violations, excessive force, retaliation, discrimination, catalyst fee issues, Monell claims, wrongful death, and personal/property damage claims.

    In addition, given the many recent plaintiff verdicts of significant amounts in this area, we can also assist you in undertaking preventative measures to avoid risk and minimize exposure. For example, we can review your policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance. We can assist you in setting up early resolution procedures to minimize unnecessary lawsuits and other proceedings. We can assist you in the early evaluation of claims and/or provide neutral mediation services, as appropriate.

    POLICE/TORT LITIGATION EXPERIENCE

    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a City, its former Police Chief and numerous command officers in a suit filed by two white male police officers who claimed their civil rights were violated when they were administratively transferred out of a particular Division. We successfully defended the Department against Motions for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions in the Trial Court and a Writ of Supersedeas in the Court of Appeal. After the case was dismissed based upon our demurrer, we successfully recovered an award of attorneys’ fees and costs against the plaintiffs, which was upheld upon appeal, along with the ruling on the demurrer.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith obtained dismissal of a multi-claim federal court discrimination complaint, without leave to amend, under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. In this matter, filed by seven plaintiffs alleging civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1985 and 2000e, the firm successfully argued that a prior state superior court dismissal of similar claims by the same plaintiffs acted as a res judicata bar to re litigation of the subject claims in federal court. Because the federal court claims could have been raised and litigated in the state court proceedings, such claims were encompassed by res judicata notwithstanding the fact that plaintiffs had deleted such claims from their state court action.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith successfully represented the City of Los Angeles, its Chief of Police, and numerous other command officers in a federal civil rights action prosecuted by a member of the LAPD. The plaintiff officer alleged that defendants engaged in a multi-year pattern of discriminatory conduct towards him over the entirety of his career based upon his race and religious beliefs. We successfully pursued a motion for summary judgment based upon a four day deposition of plaintiff, taken before any defendants were deposed, thus ensuring that none of our clients had to sit through a deposition. This summary judgment ruling, which was based upon a finding that no evidence of discrimination had been raised, was fully upheld on appeal.
    • Plaintiff brought a federal civil rights suit for millions of dollars in damages following his altercation with several Los Angeles police officers. Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a captain of the California Highway Patrol. In the face of our pending motion for summary judgment, plaintiff dismissed our client for a waiver of costs.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department in a matter wherein a number of officers claimed discrimination at the city jail located in Parker Center. This firm was successful in obtaining a dismissal of the action.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith obtained summary adjudication of federal civil rights and state claims asserted by two female state prison inmates against the Warden, Chief Deputy Warden, and several investigators of a state prison located in Southern California. Both inmates claimed the defendants (and other Dept. of Corrections personnel) coerced the inmates into acting as informants, and then retaliated against then when they refused to do so. The second inmate asserted that she was placed into administrative segregation and transferred to another prison facility when she attempted to assist the first inmate in publicizing her plight to the media. This firm established that state law statutory immunities protected the public sector employees from any common law and state claims, and that neither inmate established violations of their federal or Constitutional rights giving rise to a civil rights claim. The plaintiffs did not appeal from the judgment of dismissal that followed the court’s granting of our clients’ summary adjudication motion.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented a City and certain officials in a federal civil rights action brought by the estate of the decedent alleging wrongful death, assault and battery, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment violations, and negligent hiring and supervision. After intensive written discovery and our participation in mediation, we successfully settled the case for an amount favorable to the City.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith obtained summary judgment on behalf of a high-ranking law-enforcement official who allegedly discriminated and retaliated against a subordinate officer. Plaintiff asserted his discrimination and retaliation claims under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act and Art. I, § 8 of the California Constitution. After detailed discovery efforts and numerous deposition sessions with plaintiff, this firm was able to establish that plaintiff had not suffered any actionable adverse employment actions, and that the high-ranking official could not be held individually liable for personnel management decisions. Additionally, we demonstrated to the court that the individual supervisor was immune from any personal liability under the “discretionary act” immunity available under the Government Code. The Court of Appeal upheld these rulings.
    • Bergman Dacey Goldsmith represented the City of Los Angeles and its Police Chief as a defendant in a multi-plaintiff action brought in federal court by mostly female employees of a police department. The plaintiffs, who were represented by prominent attorneys and organizations such as the ACLU and the NAACP, originally sought to bring the suit as a class action based upon allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, ultimately seeking broad-based injunctive relief and damages. We successfully eliminated the class allegations of the complaint, so those female officers were forced to pursue their claims on an individual basis, which enabled us to successfully attack various claims. For example, among the initial group of individual plaintiffs, we obtained dismissal of two plaintiffs’ claims on the grounds that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and that their claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

      Additionally, the plaintiffs sought and were initially awarded substantial attorneys’ fees under the private attorney general doctrine arguing that they were “prevailing parties” under the catalyst theory. This firm successfully appealed this matter up to the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision placed several limitations on the circumstances under which a plaintiff could recover attorneys’ fees under the catalyst theory. Under the Supreme Court’s decision, plaintiffs would have had to meet a substantial burden to maintain their attorneys’ fees award. The parties ultimately reached a global settlement that saved millions of dollars in defense costs.

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