LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge ruled Tuesday that attorneys for a Los Angeles Police Department captain awarded $4 million over the internal distribution of a topless photo that was falsely purported to be her have made a presumptive showing that they are entitled to contact jurors in order to fight defense motions for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce Iwasaki scheduled a Dec. 20 hearing in which jurors chosen for the trial of Captain Lillian Carranza's case may offer any opposition in person, in writing or by telephone to the granting of the petition for juror contact information sought by her lawyers.
Carranza, a 33-year LAPD veteran, alleged in her harassment 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, including the LAPD's denial of 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 in total 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.
But on Monday, lawyers for the city filed court papers arguing 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 argue in their court papers.
The city's attorneys further maintain 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 cite the sworn declaration of another juror, Robyn Medina, 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, Gregory Smith.
"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," Medina 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 argue in their court papers.
"Her injection of her specialized knowledge as a nurse was misconduct," according to the city's attorneys' court papers.
Carranza's lawyers maintain they need to talk to the jurors themselves to investigate the defense's misconduct allegations.
"In order for (Carranza) to oppose this claim, plaintiff must be able to contact and interview the members of the jury to inquire about the alleged misconduct and obtain their declarations," Carranza's attorneys state in their court papers, in which they further argue that to do so they must have the panel members' personal information, including addresses and telephone numbers.