City of Burbank Police Department: Recent Discrimination Verdicts

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

Last August, I wrote this post regarding alleged misconduct by the City of Burbank regarding discrimination against African-Americans:

Here is a paragraph I found while doing some research on the Internet.  It is from the Complaint, Page 14, Lines 1-4,  Rodriguez et al. v. Burbank Police Department et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case BC414602, Filed May 28, 2009.

It should be noted that, as of the date of the filing of the within complaint, no African-American employee in the entire history of the Burbank PD has ever been promoted above the title of “police officer.”  No African-American detectives. No African-American sergeants. No African-American Lieutenants or Captains.  Never.”

Usually, sentence fragments are to be avoided in formal writing.  But this simple paragraph forcefully delivers one of the themes of the case.

The purpose of the post was not about the merits of the case, but about what I found to be an effective piece of writing by an attorney.  However, yet again, I stumbled upon another City of Burbank case in the Verdicts and Settlements database of Westlaw (and I really wasn’t looking for it).  The cite is JVR No. 1204110010, 2012 WL 1199439, and the case is called Taylor v. City of Burbank.   The verdict was $1,290,000, and it says the City of Burbank is looking to appeal.  The similarity, at least superficial, to the Rodriguez case above, as shown in this small excerpt in the Verdicts and Settlements item:

The former deputy chief for the Burbank Police Department alleged that the City terminated his employment to retaliate against him after he raised concerns of harassment and discrimination within the police department, as well as his refusal to terminate African-American and Hispanic employees because of their race.

In trying to confirm the facts about Taylor v. City of Burbank, I found this article from the Burbank Leader dated April 6, 2012 by Maria Hsin, in which the City of Burbank lost a case filed by a detective, Steve Karagiosian.  The jury verdict was $150,000.  From the article: “The detective who filed the lawsuit, Steve Karagiosian, testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court that detectives and sergeants in the Police Department regularly used derogatory terms — such as “towel heads” — in referring to Armenians.”

The Karagiosian case is the same case as quoted above, Rodriguez et al. v. Burbank Police Department et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case BC414602, Filed May 28, 2009.  Steve Karagiosian is one of the “et als” in that case.  They appear to be trying the cases separately.

In an unpublished case found at 2012 WL 646338, filed February 27, 2012, the Second District, Division 4 Court of Appeal made a ruling in some of the cases.  The initial complaint, as stated before, was filed on May 28, 2009 by Omar Rodriguez, Cindy Guillen-Gomez, Steve Karagiosian, Elfego Rodriguez and Jamal Childs.  Summary Judgment was entered against Elfego Rodriguez in July 2010.  The Court of Appeal concluded that “Elfego Rodriguez’s “contentions are without merit and that the trial court did not err in granting the motion for summary judgment.”

Officer Guillen’s trial is set for this month, and Lt. Omar Rodriguez’s trial is in federal court.  The saga of the City of Burbank and the Burbank Police Department appears too complex to summarize in one post, but I thought an update was in order regarding that quote I highlighted last year.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation