LAPD Captain Who Won $4M Awarded Nearly $700,000 in Attorneys' Fees

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles Police Department captain who complained that management ignored her requests for the entire department to be informed that a widely distributed photo of a topless woman resembling her was in fact not her image -- and was awarded $4 million by a jury -- has been awarded nearly $700,000 in attorneys' fees.

Attorneys for Captain Lillian Carranza had sought $1.13 million in attorneys' fees on her behalf and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Bruce Iwasaki heard arguments on March 23. He took the case under submission and ruled Monday, awarding just under $690,420.

The judge wrote that the hourly rates charged by Carranza's lawyers were double or triple those charged by the lead defense attorney, Mark Waterman, a private attorney with nearly 30 years experience who has a "noncontingent" rate of $295 per hour.

Four plaintiff's attorneys worked on Carranza's case, including lead counsel Gregory Smith. Defense attorneys argued in their court papers that no attorneys' fees should be awarded, but that if the judge were nonetheless inclined to do so, they should be less than what the captain's lawyers sought.

Carranza's case was taken on a contingency fee agreement and she would not have been able to obtain counsel if she had to pay her attorneys on an hourly basis, the captain's attorneys stated in their court papers.

Deliberating for less than a day in total, the jury on Oct. 1 awarded Carranza $2.5 million for her future pain and suffering and $1.5 million for her past emotional distress.

Carranza, a 34-year LAPD veteran, alleged 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, 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.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore testified he refrained from putting out a notice to everyone in the LAPD that the photo was not Carranza because it would have increased her embarrassment by making the existence of the image even more widely known. But Smith argued it was unlikely Carranza would be injured by a statement clearing her name and telling officers that such conduct was inappropriate.

Waterman told jurors that no one in Carranza's workplace expressed any sexual hostility to her about the photo and that the only person who showed it to her was Smith, who Waterman said sent the image to the captain when she was vacationing in Puerto Vallarta in November 2018.

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