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Settlements? You be the judge

December 03, 2006|SWATI PANDEY

The Los Angeles City Council's decision to pay firefighter Tennie Pierce $2.7 million in a racial discrimination suit attracted controversy and a mayoral veto. Here are samples of previous cases, some controversial, that the city settled rather than try in court or appeal:

-- SWATI PANDEY

Carol Adkins

In 1998, a city employee drove a four-ton truck over Adkins' car, crushing her inside and leaving her totally paralyzed. Investigators accused the driver of falling asleep at the wheel of the overloaded truck.

Payout: $19 million

Council vote: 14 to 0

*

Javier Ovando

In a case growing out of the LAPD's Rampart scandal, Ovando was shot and allegedly framed by officers, who planted a gun by him. Partly paralyzed and in a wheelchair, Ovando went to prison; his conviction was overturned in 1999.

Payout: $15 million

Council vote: 13 to 0

*

Devin Brown

In February 2005, the 13-year-old allegedly was driving erratically in a reportedly stolen car. In eluding capture, he allegedly backed into a police car, which prompted an officer to fire 10 shots, killing the teenager. Investigators contended that the car was going only 2 mph when the officer opened fire. The boy's mother settled with the city.

Payout: $1.5 million

Council vote: 11 to 2

*

Gary Mellinger

Mellinger, a firefighter, claimed that he suffered years of age discrimination until he was forced to leave the department in 2005. The settlement came days after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's veto of the Pierce settlement.

Payout: $350,000

Council vote: 10 to 1

*

Willie Williams

Rejected by the Police Commission for a second term as police chief, he settled for a severance package in 1997 -- though a second term wasn't guaranteed -- in exchange for not filing a lawsuit alleging that the commission improperly evaluated his performance.

Payout: $375,000

Council vote: 8 to 7

*

Richard Nagatoshi

Nagatoshi, a Japanese American police officer, alleged in 2001 that he suffered years of discrimination, including unheeded calls for backup, derogatory comments and pranks such as pink panties being stuffed in his mailbox. Instead of appealing a jury award for more than $4.1 million, the city settled.

Payout: $4 million

Council vote: 11 to 1

*

Mark Tico

Tico, a Korean American, alleged racial discrimination and harassment in the LAPD's canine unit (which also employed Nagatoshi) in 2001.

Payout: $1.2 million

Council vote: 11 to 0

*

John Francois

Francois, the first African American on the LAPD's bomb squad, claimed that fellow officers called him "boy" and that unlike other squad members, he was not paid for being on call. He eventually took stress leave in 1997. Rather than appeal a jury award of more than $5 million, the city settled.

Payout: $4.3 million

Council vote: 9 to 1

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