The Firm successfully defended a Federal Section 1983 civil rights lawsuit for wrongful arrest and use of force brought against a Los Angeles World Airports Traffic and Safety Officer. The trial occurred in the United States Federal District Court, the Hon. Judge Dolly Gee presiding. The incident which was the subject of the trial occurred late at night, at Los Angeles International Airport, where the Plaintiff arrived to pick up a passenger and illegally parked at the white curb. The Defendant Traffic and Safety Officer advised the Plaintiff he could not park at the white curb and had to move. The Plaintiff left, circled around the terminal, and returned to the same place to attempt to park. When the Defendant Traffic and Safety Officer again asked the Plaintiff to leave, the Plaintiff threatened to shoot him. The Plaintiff denied ever making such a statement. The Plaintiff claimed that the Traffic and Safety Officer falsely reported a gun threat, prompting Los Angeles Airport police officers to arrest, search, and cause injury to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff sought $500,000 in damages, claiming that injuries to his shoulder and knee occurred when police officers lifted him from the ground while in handcuffs. The Plaintiff further claimed that these injuries effectively ended his career as an international professional basketball player.
The defense argued that Plaintiff could not prove that his injuries were caused by the police officers, as Plaintiff had numerous prior injuries and complaints of pain to the same parts of his body he claimed were injured in the incident, including a prior surgery for a torn ACL in his right knee. A board-certified orthopedic surgeon testified that Plaintiff could not have received the kind of shoulder injury he complained of while being handcuffed. Further, Plaintiff had not played professional international basketball for sixteen months prior to the incident; had been dropped from teams because of poor performance; and had slim prospects of earning a living as an international professional basketball player before the incident occurred. The defense also put forth testimony from two police officers showing that Plaintiff never complained of any pain or injury on the night of the incident, despite being asked several times by the officers if he was sick, ill, or injured. The police officers were previously dismissed from the lawsuit via a motion for qualified immunity. Finally, the witness testimony established that the police officers had not spoken to or conspired with the Defendant Traffic and Safety Officer to use any level of force or treat the Plaintiff in any rough or aggressive manner.
After a four day trial, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict. The attorneys who worked on the trial were Rodolfo F. Ruiz, Nicole R. McAtee, and Margaret A. Parker.