A Los Angeles police officer who sued the city, saying she suffered a backlash by being placed under surveillance for complaining about sexual harassment by a supervisor, was awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin said during a hearing Tuesday that $831,130 was fair compensation to Officer Linda Allstot. Her lawyers had asked for more than $1.1 million.
On April 5, a jury awarded Allstot $3 million in damages. However, Fruin found the amount to be excessive, saying there was insufficient evidence to support the panel’s finding that Allstot’s future emotional distress would cost $2 million. Fruin gave Allstot the choice of accepting a reduced award of $1 million or facing a new trial on the issue of damages. Allstot agreed to a $1 million judgment.
Allstot said she was subjected to inappropriate remarks and gestures by Lt. Wayne Lightfoot, who retired in March. She said that the department retaliated against her complaining by having undercover officers monitor her.
“You break that code of silence, you’re going to be subject to retaliation,” Allstot’s lead attorney, Gregory W. Smith, told jurors during final arguments.
The stigma from Allstot’s experiences with Lightfoot continues to this day, Smith said.
Smith blamed Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy for allegedly not taking steps to stop Lightfoot from using his position to harass Allstot.
Deputy City Attorney Susan Rim told the panel there were no witnesses to support Allstot’s claims and that she also lacked any documentation. Agreeing that no one should feel unsafe in the workplace, she said Allstot’s case boiled down to other things.
“What the plaintiff is seeking here is compensation for hurt feelings,” Rim said.
Allstot, who works in the LAPD’s Professional Standards Bureau overseen by McCarthy, said the inappropriate comments by Lightfoot occurred “multiple times per month” from late 2013 to mid-2014. Lightfoot was McCarthy’s adjutant, according to Allstot’s court papers.
The plaintiff “also received unwelcome sexual advances from Lt. Lightfoot, including repeated invitations to vacation with him at Lake Havasu and Cabo San Lucas,” her court papers stated.
Allstot is married to LAPD Capt. Rolando Solano, who testified on her behalf and sat with her in the audience during final arguments. Solano was among the officers who were at the scene of the 1991 police beating of Rodney King, but neither participated in the attack nor were charged with any crimes.
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