News Details

Kevin H. Louth Obtains Reversal of $2.25 Million Judgment in the California Court of Appeal

On October 27, 2014, Kevin H. Louth obtained a reversal of a $2.25 million judgment in Division Seven of the California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District, in Rodriguez v. County of Los Angeles, et. al.

Rodriguez’s husband was a dependent adult who was the subject of an elder abuse criminal investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for several years before his death. Rodriguez sued the County of Los Angeles, several employees of the Sheriff’s Department (the “County defendants”), and several of her husband’s relatives, for damages. Rodriguez alleged that County defendants and her husband’s relatives engaged in a three year long conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional distress upon her by separating her from her husband, and by attempting to undo their marriage in furtherance of a plan by her husband’s relatives to achieve financial gain by obtaining control of her husband’s assets.

Following a 30 day trial, the jury awarded Rodriguez $2.25 million against the County defendants and her husband’s relatives. The County defendants appealed. The relatives of Rodriguez’s husband also appealed, but subsequently settled with Rodriguez and dismissed their appeal.

Kevin argued on behalf of the County defendants on appeal that there was no substantial evidence to support the jury’s finding that the actions of the individual County defendants were outside the scope of their employment, that the trial court prejudicially omitted crucial statutory language in instructing the jury on the County defendants’ investigative immunity under Government Code § 821.6, and that the jury returned an inconsistent verdict.

The appellate court agreed with Kevin’s argument that the trial court committed instructional error, and that this error was prejudicial to the County defendants. The appellate court reversed the judgment and has remanded the action back to the trial court for a new trial.

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