It is expected that a lawsuit of brutal and unconstitutional conduct by Los Angeles police during the protests this summer – possibly the largest and most expensive case of its kind in the city's history – is expected to be resolved, even if on the Way an agreement is reached.
The discovery process, in which both sides request and collect evidence, is just beginning. Thousands of records need to be collected and dozens of stakeholders dropped, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD chief Michel Moore, as well as individual protesters who have sustained injuries, lawyers from both sides said in a joint report filed last month in the U.S. District Court was submitted.
US District Judge Chairman Consuelo B. Marshall has set a tentative date for a trial, but not for another year and a half – on April 26, 2022.
The city might agree to settle the lawsuit instead, calling that timeline into question, but such a decision would almost certainly be followed by lengthy negotiations on what is owed to those with claims against the city.
"It's complicated," said Carol Sobel, an attorney for plaintiffs, who include Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Community Action Network and other individual protesters.
Activist groups and individuals allege that the LAPD violated the protesters' constitutional rights by arresting them on occasion for violations that only warrant street citations and then subjecting them to dire conditions – including keeping them for more than 12 hours Shackled in buses without access were bathrooms or water. They also allege the LAPD brutally used projectiles and batons not only to disperse the crowd but also to injure protesters who were pushed back when the division unilaterally declared the gatherings illegal.
Many protesters were injured, some with severe head and face wounds, according to a Times investigation.
The activist groups and protesters in this case want the class status that would allow them to aggregate claims from thousands of protesters at once and seek damages commensurate with the size of the wider collective.
In response, LAPD officials and city attorneys have alleged that police responded appropriately to dangerous street gatherings where individuals had committed crimes, including attacking officials and starting fires.
In the latest joint report, city lawyers said police were responding to "coordinated mass pillage" and "unprecedented lawlessness and chaos".
The city's lawyers have spoken out against class status in the case, suggesting that protesters argue their claims individually.
In last month's filing, they said the city is already facing at least two more lawsuits and 45 tort lawsuits related to the LAPD's handling of the protests – many of which are likely to become lawsuits too. You also expect that further claims will be asserted before the limitation period expires at the end of the year.
Sobel, who has already fought large class action lawsuits against the LAPD, said she had talks with City Atty. Mike Feuer's office this week on how to get on with the discovery is expecting roadblocks.
"The police will take all possible protective measures against the disclosure of information," said Sobel, "and we will fight for a while to find out what happened."
Police referred questions about the case to the Fire Bureau, which refused to comment.
Sobel said, among other things, the protesters wanted to know how decisions were made at the highest level regarding operations and the use of tactical weapons. She said they want text messages, emails, and other communications not only between senior city officials like Garcetti and Moore, but between them and other key stakeholders like Rick Caruso, the billionaire's magnate and owner of the upscale Grove complex, threatened by People who caught fire and broke stores after one of the biggest protests in nearby Pan Pacific Park got out of control on May 30th.
The protesters also want "all documents and communications from the city relating to the protests, the use of force during the protests, lifting orders, arrests and other activities related to the protests," according to the latest filing.
The LAPD, City Council, and the National Police Foundation, working on behalf of the Police Commission, are all conducting reviews of events that Sobel said they could also inform the lawsuit – and reinforce if issues with the official response are identified become.
It's a high-stakes process for a city already struggling to pay its bills amid a coronavirus-related economic slump.
Sobel said the case is likely to produce "the largest class of damage ever in a protest in the country," and she and other protesters' lawyers predicted in their latest filing that the damage could easily reach tens of millions of dollars.
As just one example, they argued that "several thousand" detainees could be entitled to US $ 12,000 each for facing unconstitutional conditions. Sobel said that could be nearly 4,000 arrested – which at $ 12,000 apiece would translate into $ 50 million in damages claims.
In addition, protesters jailed for violations that normally only deserve a quote on the street and protesters who have been injured have their own claims. The protesters are also requesting an injunction against the LAPD using projectile weapons and batons against protesters who move forward.
The city has paid tens of millions of dollars to settle claims in previous cases where police cracked down on mass protests, but never in such a large case. The current case deals with allegations that extend over several days and nights in different parts of the city and that involve thousands of people.
Money aside, it is clear that both sides also view the lawsuit as one with the potential to reshape LAPD's crowd control policy in future protests.
The protesters and activist groups in the case argued in the most recent joint filing that the “key legal issues” to be considered are “the basis for arrests and the conditions for restriction on buses,” the legality of arresting people for violations a street deserve only quotes and the use of batons and projectiles with protesters.
They also argued that "the general issue of the legality of the measures taken to suppress peaceful protests through the use of curfews, failure to follow sufficient dispersal notices and ways of dispersal, and the suppression of the First Amendment activities of protesters based on the." alleged acts by a small number of people who are not representative of the overall nature of the protests. "
Of particular interest to the plaintiffs, Sobel said, will be the decisions that resulted in the division's use of 40mm projectile launchers, which were not intended to disperse protesters but to "incapacitate" people.
City lawyers argued in the same file that the main issues were "whether there is a probable cause for the protesters' arrest after curfew violations and" failure to disperse "and whether the conditions they were exposed to after their arrest a Violation of their procedural rights.
Another critically important question, according to city lawyers, is whether the police were authorized "under any circumstances" to use batons and projectiles to disperse the crowd.