Friday, April 26, 2013

Los Angeles reaches $4.2M settlement with mother and daughter

Los Angeles reaches $4.2M settlement with mother and daughter, The city of Los Angeles reached a $4.2million settlement with a mother and daughter who were shot and wounded when police mistakenly opened fire on them while hunting for disgruntled ex-cop Christopher Dorner.

The money will be split evenly, with $2.1million going to each woman, said Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the city attorney's office.

The payout, which will help the victims cover legal fees, medical bills and emotional damages, must still be approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

Deal reached: The city of Los Angeles has agreed to pay Margie Carranza (left) and her mother, Emma Hernandez (right), $4.2million after the women were shot in February during a manhunt for Chris Dorner

Mistaken identity: LAPD officers fired at least 100 rounds at the delivery women's Toyota Tacoma without warning after mistaking it for Dorner's pickup

Margie Carranza, 47, and her 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez, were delivering papers in the pickup truck at around 5am on February 7 when LAPD officers guarding the Torrance home of a target named in an online Dorner manifesto blasted at least 100 rounds at Toyota Tacoma without warning.

Hernandez reportedly used her body to shield her daughter from the barrage of bullets and was shot in the back. Carranza suffered minor injuries from flying glass, CBS Los Angeles reported.

The settlement means they cannot pursue any future injury claims against the city.

Dorner had vowed warfare on Los Angeles Police Department officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing.

He killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, during his nearly one-week run from authorities.

Attorney Glen Jonas, who represents the women, called the settlement amount fair and said it spared the city from defending a case that involved eight police officers and would have likely cost millions of dollars.

Compromise: Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, right, stands with Glen Jonas, attorney for the two injured women, during a news conference to announce a city settlement with Margie Carranza and Emma Hernandez

V for victory: Glen Jonas called the settlement amount fair and said it possibly spared the city as much as $15million

‘The only certainty was the litigation was going to cost everyone a lot of money and a lot of time,’ Jonas said.

‘I have a 71-year-old client. You think she wants to risk the appellate court reversing it for one reason or another?’ Jonas said. ‘$4.2 million means a lot more to her today than potentially $7million 10 years down the road.’

Jonas sent a nine-page demand to the city more than a month ago that provided an opening to negotiations. He said he negotiated with City Attorney Carmen Trutanich for weeks before the deal was reached on Monday night after heated arguments.

‘We're two veteran trial lawyers trying to settle a case, and we both understand the reality of litigation and what it costs to both sides,’ Jonas said.

Jonas estimated that had the case gone to trial, taxpayers would have ended up paying around $15million if the city lost, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Rogue cop: Former police officer Christopher Dorner died in February from what was believed to be a self-inflicted wound after a nine-day manhunt

Trutanich said in a statement he was pleased by how swiftly it was reached, and added that the deal was a ‘no brainer.’

‘We got out of this thing pretty cheaply all things considered,’ he said.

He then went on to say: ‘We hope Margie and Emma will be able to move on with their lives, the city will be spared millions of dollars in litigation expense and time, and this unfortunate chapter of the Dorner saga will be put to rest.’

The women agreed to receive the payment after June 30 – the end of the fiscal year – to help the city with its budgeting, Jonas said.

The agreement came in addition to a separate $40,000 settlement reached earlier for the loss of the women's pickup truck. Their attorney said the mother and daughter used the money to buy a Dodge Ram pickup.

The mother and daughter had reached a separate deal for $40,000 to replace their ruined Toyota Tacoma

‘For them, the money is not the issue as much as [the city] just doing the right thing,’ Jonas said. ‘Everyone agreed that they were wronged, but we didn't know whether responsibility would be assumed ... It's pleasant to get that done without having to go through years of litigation.’

Jonas added that the settlement doesn't erase the emotional trauma his client had been through, and getting the payout that not mean 'they'll run around with big smiles on their faces.'

The eight officers involved in the shooting remain assigned to non-field duties pending an internal investigation.

Dorner hid out in the San Bernardino Mountains until Feb. 12, when he tried to flee but law enforcement converged on him.

Disgrnutled: Dorner had vowed warfare on Los Angeles Police Department officers and their families for what he called an unfair firing

Dorner killed one sheriff's deputy and wounded another in a gunbattle that ended with fire consuming the cabin he holed up in. Authorities believe he killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

The attack on the women's pickup truck wasn't the only mistaken police shooting that morning in Torrance.

Moments later, nearby local police opened fire on a pickup truck driven by a surfer heading to the beach.

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