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Case: Lawson v. Gates

91-31232 | California state trial court

Filed Date: July 24, 1991

Closed Date: 2000

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 24, 1991, private attorneys and attorneys for the ACLU and NAACP filed a state-court class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, alleging that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) engaged in unlawful use of police attack dogs to apprehend suspects. On August 17, 1993, after two years of discovery, plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint, which included as attachments sixteen separate charts evidencing statistical information regarding LAPD's K-9 unit. Plaint…

On July 24, 1991, private attorneys and attorneys for the ACLU and NAACP filed a state-court class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, alleging that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) engaged in unlawful use of police attack dogs to apprehend suspects. On August 17, 1993, after two years of discovery, plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint, which included as attachments sixteen separate charts evidencing statistical information regarding LAPD's K-9 unit. Plaintiffs alleged, inter alia, that the LAPD engaged in a custom, pattern and/or practice whereby hundreds of citizens, particularly minorities, were subjected to vicious dog attacks and bodily injury, when officers deployed police dogs in circumstances that were not constitutionally justified. Plaintiffs alleged that in the three years preceding the filing of the third amended complaint, some 900 suspects were believed to have been bitten by LAPD police dogs. Plaintiffs cited a 90% injury rate to suspects subjected to the police dogs. Plaintiffs further alleged that the LAPD disproportionately deployed attack dogs in minority areas, resulting in over 90% of the dog bites being inflicted on African-American or Latino citizens. Plaintiffs sought monetary damages and injunctive relief to bar such practices.

On March 27, 1995 the parties settled the case along with some other cases pending against LAPD relating to use of canines. The settlement included a monetary payment to 54 individually named plaintiffs and injunctive relief in the form of agreed revisions to the LAPD K-9 policies. The revisions included the requirement that LAPD collect and publish data in the form of quarterly and annual reports, regarding the K-9 unit, including the number of searches by division, the find ratio, the number of bites, and the number of hospitalizations relating to bites. While the settlement was a private agreement, it contained a court enforcement provision.

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (12/28/2006)

Related Cases

Brown v. City of Los Angeles, California state trial court (0)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Cody, Vicki E. (California)

Cook, Donald W. (California)

Hahn, James K. (California)

Hoffman, Paul L. (California)

Lee, Bill Lann (California)

Litt, Barrett S. (California)

Mann, Robert Frederick (California)

Rice, Constance L. (District of Columbia)

Toma, Robin S. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alexander, Bernard III (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Cody, Vicki E. (California)

Cook, Donald W. (California)

Hahn, James K. (California)

Hoffman, Paul L. (California)

Lee, Bill Lann (California)

Litt, Barrett S. (California)

Mann, Robert Frederick (California)

Rice, Constance L. (District of Columbia)

Toma, Robin S. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Alexander, Bernard III (California)

Clark, Robert Jr. (California)

Edell, Norman (California)

Gonzalez, Debra (California)

Henen, Emil (California)

House, Mary T. (California)

King, Peter (California)

Ramirez, Eugene (California)

Rodriguez, Antonio (California)

Sillas, Herman (California)

Stone, Michael P. (California)

Vargas, Patricia (California)

Vincent, Don (California)

Workman, W. Michael (California)

Other Attorney(s)

Price, Howard R. (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

BC 031232

Complaint

July 21, 1991

July 21, 1991

Complaint

BC 031232

Third Amended Complaint for Damages and Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Aug. 17, 1993

Aug. 17, 1993

Complaint

Settlement Distribution by Individual

No Court

Feb. 6, 1995

Feb. 6, 1995

Other

Release of All Claims

No Court

Feb. 10, 1995

Feb. 10, 1995

Settlement Agreement

BC 031232

BC 034088

BC 011575

BC 020742

BS 004719

BC 021246

BC 017560

C 743117

C 743543

C 755482

NCC 359 72B

Settlement and Injunctive Relief Agreement

March 27, 1995

March 27, 1995

Settlement Agreement

Injunctive Relief Agreement

No Court

March 27, 1995

March 27, 1995

Settlement Agreement

Docket

Last updated Aug. 24, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 24, 1991

Closing Date: 2000

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All individuals in Los Angeles against whom the LAPD has unleashed a police dog to attack and bite without probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that the individuals posed an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury.

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Los Angeles Police Department (Los Angeles), City

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

42 U.S.C. § 1985

Constitutional Clause(s):

Unreasonable search and seizure

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1995 - 2000

Issues

General:

Improper use of canines

Racial profiling