The city of Whittier filed court papers against two insurance companies for allegedly refusing to compensate the community for the $3 million settlement costs officials agreed to pay four current and two retired police officers who sued over alleged traffic citation quotas.
The unofficial lawsuit alleges breach of contract by Everest National Insurance Co. and Starr Indemnity Liability Co. In its court papers filed Wednesday, the city is seeking a court order directing the companies to indemnify the city for the $3 million settlement costs according to the terms officials allege exist in the policies. The city also is seeking attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.
“Despite the (lawsuit) expressly alleging covered employment practice liability wrongful acts as defined in their respective policies, Everest and Starr improperly denied coverage,” the city’s court papers state.
The city approved the $3 million settlement in January.
Representatives for the companies could not be immediately reached.
The plaintiffs were former Cpl. Joseph Rivera and ex-Officer Nancy Ogle, who are both now retired; and current Officers Anthony Gonzalez, Jim Azpilicueta, Steve Johnson and Mike Rosario.
The suit, filed in March 2015, alleged that the WPD in 2008 “imposed an unlawful citation and arrest quota” in violation of the state Vehicle Code. The quotas were used as a “benchmark for performance,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges that the WPD “thereafter retaliated against those who refused to participate in and/or reported the unlawful citation and arrest quotas.”
The six officers repeatedly complained about the alleged quotas to their supervisors and members of the Internal Affairs Division, in the belief that the standards were unlawful, according to their lawsuit.
In response, the officers alleged, the WPD punished them by placing negative language in their personnel files, putting them under increased scrutiny, requiring them to undergo unneeded counseling and subjecting them to unwarranted transfers.
“Plaintiffs spoke out not only for the rights of themselves and their fellow officers, but also for the rights of the public by speaking out against what they believed to be an unlawful citation and arrest quota,” the suit stated.
The careers of all six officers have been “irreparably harmed and damaged” by the alleged retaliation, which also has caused them significant emotional distress, according to their court papers.
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