A three-year legal battle against the city that led to a change in state law governing cities' payment of punitive damages in suits against on-duty employees has ended in victory for the city.
Attorney Hugh Manes said this week that he will not pursue a state appellate court ruling upholding El Monte's payment of $2,000 in punitive damages on behalf of two police officers accused of using excessive force in a 1979 incident outside a local nightclub.
Manes represented Bertha Guerrero, a legal secretary from El Monte, who filed a suit in 1983 challenging the legality of the city's payment of punitive damages for the policemen.
Her suit stemmed from a 1981 jury award of $1,000 in punitive damages against officers Randolph Lovelace and Henry August for using excessive force against Donald Ray Stephens during the investigation of a fight outside the Nashville West nightclub. The officers also were found liable for $2,700 in general damages, which was paid by the city, but not challenged by Guerrero.