According to a report received by the Board of Supervisors last month, Los Angeles County spent more than $145 million fighting and paying for lawsuits alleging wrongful conviction, excessive use of force, medical malpractice and several other claims, during fiscal year 2016-2017. According to the report, almost half of the $145 million total was spent on attorneys’ fees and expenses, with the bulk of it going to outside counsel. Those fees and costs were up about 9 percent compared to the fiscal year 2015-2016. From that increase, $70.2 million was spent to settle 242 cases and $9.1 million was spent to satisfy nine judgments.
The most expensive lawsuit was $10.1 million, which was paid out to Francisco Carrillo Jr., whose conviction was overturned by a judge after Francisco spent 20 years of a life sentence in prison for a fatal drive-by shooting in Lynwood that he was wrongfully accused of. The second most expensive settlement was $4.5 million paid out to the National Resources Defense Council and Baykeeper, who alleged that flood control authorities allowed pollution of Los Angeles watersheds and beaches in excess of regulatory standards. According to the report, the number of total new cases filed fell to 707, the lowest total in the last seven years. The county won about 40 percent of the 20 cases it took to trial in 2016-2017. Hopefully, L.A. County can figure out how to reduce the amount of money spent on settling and fighting legal claims.