On August 20, 2010, five inmates in the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail filed this lawsuit
in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Proceeding under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against deputy sheriffs, the plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for damages, claiming violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. Specifically, the inmates claimed that the deputies systematically beat them during a cell extraction after the inmates protested conditions at the Jail by refusing to leave their cells.
On February 25, 2013, Judge Consuelo B. Marshall denied
plaintiffs' motion to strike the defendants' answer and enter judgment, but Judge Marshall did grant the plaintiffs' alternative motion to impose other lesser sanctions for spoliation of evidence.
On July 12, 2013, Judge Marshall denied
the defendants' motions for summary judgment but granted a defendant's motion for joinder and plaintiffs' motion in limine to admit the Citizens' Commission on Jail Violence Report. The defendants appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit. The plaintiffs moved that this appeal was frivolous. The Ninth Circuit denied the defendants' motion to stay the district court proceedings pending the appeal. As such, the district court proceedings continued and the Ninth Circuit never ruled on this appeal.
After a five week trial, on February 5, 2014, the jury returned a unanimous verdict
of civil rights violations triggering $710,000 in damages and $240,000 in punitive damages. In addition, the district court awarded $5.4 million in attorney fees based on the difficulty of the litigation and the challenge of representing convicted inmates against law enforcement in a jail conflict. After this judgment, the defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law, to vacate the judgment and for a new trial, to vacate punitive damages, and/or for a new trial. The defendants also appealed the judgment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2014 and 2015, the defendants filed a total of three amended appeals to the Ninth Circuit.
On May 29, 2014, Judge Marshall denied
all defendants' motions (1) for judgment as matter of law; (2) to vacate judgment and for a new trial after resolution of interlocutory qualified immunity appeals; (3) to vacate punitive damages; and (4) for a new trial. 2014 WL 8396787 (C.D. Cal. May 29, 2014).
On December 29, 2014, Judge Marshall issued an order and opinion regarding attorney's fees. Most importantly, Judge Marshall held that (1) California's Bane Act's attorney's fees provision did not conflict with the Prison Litigation Reform Act; (2) the majority of services rendered in opposition to summary judgment would be as §1983 only time (and therefore receiving lower reimbursement rates), rather than under the Bane Act; and (3) inmates were entitled to recover fully compensatory attorney fees. 2014 WL 8390755 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 29, 2014).
The appeal of the trial judgment is still pending in the Ninth Circuit. In the district court, the plaintiff moved to retax costs on May 15, 2015, and the district court has not ruled on this motion. The Ninth Circuit is waiting for the district court to rule before it issues an order or opinions. Jessica Kincaid - 10/30/2015