A judge has denied the city of Los Angeles a new trial in a lawsuit in which a jury in 2022 awarded a police captain $4 million over the internal distribution of a topless photo that was falsely purported to be her.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce G. Iwasaki heard arguments on Jan. 12 regarding the city’s motions. He took the case under submission and ruled Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Lillian Carranza, a 34-year LAPD veteran, said in her suit filed in January 2019 that the department did not do enough to prevent the emotional distress she said she continues to suffer since being told about the photo in late 2018. She said the LAPD denied her request that a department-wide statement be put out confirming that she was not the person in the photo.
Jurors deliberated for about a day before reaching their verdict on Sept. 30. The panel awarded Carranza $2.5 million for her future pain and suffering and $1.5 million for her past emotional distress.
Attorneys for the city argued that the $4 million award was excessive and that there was no evidence presented by Carranza’s attorneys that their client’s harassment was severe and pervasive as required by law.
“The evidence demonstrated that (Carranza’s) interpersonal interactions in the workplace were not altered at all,” the defense lawyers stated in court papers.
The city’s attorneys further maintained that their post-trial investigation of the verdict shows it was influenced by alleged jury misconduct.
One juror asserted the photograph falsely depicting Carranza “must have been distributed more than what the trial evidence showed,” according to the city’s attorneys’ court papers.
The defense lawyers cited the sworn declaration of another juror who said the juror in question claimed that “of course” everyone in the LAPD saw or knew about the photo and wanted along with a second panel member to award the full $8 million sought by Carranza’s lead attorney.
“When I attempted to discuss that this was not in the evidence, he engaged in name-calling by saying I was naive on how much the photograph was passed around,” the one juror said.
The juror at issue also alleged there was a “brotherhood” in the LAPD in which no one would talk about the photograph, say that they saw it or mention names regarding it, according to the defense attorneys’ court papers.
Another juror’s conduct came into question when she said that as a nurse, she had patients like Carranza in her practice, knew that the captain would need more psychological care in the future and that it would be expensive, the defense lawyers argued in their court papers.
“Her injection of her specialized knowledge as a nurse was misconduct,” according to the city’s attorneys’ court papers.
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But according to Carranza’s attorneys’ court papers, the verdict was “based on overwhelming evidence that Capt. Carranza was subjected to a hostile work environment and that the Los Angeles Police Department failed to adequately address her complaint.”
The plaintiff’s attorneys also maintained that there was “no evidence that any juror was coerced or convinced to vote on any verdict question in a way they did not agree with.”