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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trutanich blunder costs City millions; blew deadline to file appeal

Next time embattled City Attorney Carmen 'Nuch' Trutanich tells you that he has 'saved the City millions of dollars,' you might want to ask him about his latest blunder - failing to timely file an appeal against a multi-million dollar verdict in the case of LAPD Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff who successfully sued the City for being unlawfully required to meet traffic ticket quotas.

The jury's verdict will stand after Trutanich missed the deadline to file an appeal.
According to the LA Times LAPD Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff, from West Traffic Division, '... sued the department in 2009, alleging that they had been punished with bogus performance reviews, threats of reassignment and other forms of harassment after objecting to demands from commanding officers that they write a certain number of tickets each day.'

Trutanich, using his 'Porcupine Defense,' rejected an offer to settle the case for $500,000. Because of Trutanich's infantile defense strategy, the jury awarded Chan and Benioff over $2M plus attorney fees.

But Trutanich's ineptitude does not stop there. The loudmouthed former ambulance chaser slip and fall lawyer turned career politician was, perhaps, too busy campaigning to become District Attorney to worry too much about the losses he had inflicted on the taxpayers of LA who have to pick up the tab. The case of Chan et al v. City of Los Angeles probably dropped off Trutanich's radar as he sought fresh headlines to bolster his political aspirations. Those aspirations vanished in a New York minute in June 2012 when Trutanich suffered one of the most humiliating political defeats in history.

But while Trutanich licked his political wounds and re-grouped his political machine to launch his re-election campaign, the clock was steadily ticking away on the time left to file an appeal against the $2M verdict. As a further example of Trutanich's ineptitude, it now appears that Trutanich forgot to file an appeal. Some believe that an appeal would have succeeded in reducing the award, but in plain terms, Trutanich 'blew it.'
 
As a result of Trutanich's lack of attention not only does the jury award stand, but the City is also liable for interest on the award. That interest is understood to be calculated at 7% and is believed to be $398.39 a day for the 611 days since the April 11, 2011 verdict.

Because Trutanich failed to either pay the award or file an appeal, the City of Los Angeles will now have to pay an additional $243,419.29 in interest.

While Trutanich boasts and brags about the $235M he has 'saved the City,' the fact remains that those so-called savings are illusory - it's not real money that you can take to the bank. It's like going to CostCo and buying a flat screen tv for $500 that has a retail price of $1,000 - you 'saved' $500. But it's not real money. On the other hand, Trutanich's losses are real money loses. In the case of Chan et al v. City of Los Angeles, Trutanich has cost LA taxpayers $2.25M in real money. Money that could fill potholes, fix sidewalks, and pay for more police.

How much longer will Los Angeles put up with Trutanich's drunken sailor spending?

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The loss to the city is greater than you say. First, the appeal would have given the city some negotiating power - it's a no brainer, you file the appeal and most attorneys will negotiate to avoid the delay. Second, in this case one of the officers had no financial loses at all, so there really was no basis for the jury to award him $1m. That was another no brainer that Trutanich screwed up.

The bottom line with Trutanich is that he is a very poor leader. He bullies his staff about not settling cases and forces them to use his crazy porcupine defense, and look what happens? Of course, Trutanich expected to be sitting in the DA's office by now, and this mess would be someone else's problem. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the public. Trutanich has to go.