Verdicts & Settlements · June 11, 2002
California Daily Journal
Richard Susag v. City of Lake Forest, County of Orange, et al.
Result: June 11, 2002
Topic: Civil Rights
Sub topic: Excessive Force
Sub-sub topic: False Arrest and Imprisonment
Jury verdict: Defense
Plaintiff – Jeffrey S. Benice, Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Benice, Irvine
Defendant – S. Frank Harrell, Franscell, Strickland, Roberts & Lawrence, Santa Ana
Defendant – Mark Bailey use of force, Los Angeles
Defendant – Morris Claman M.D., urologist, Beverly Hills
Defendant – Kendall S. Wagner M.D., orthopedist, Fullerton
Facts: On May 5, 1998, the plaintiff Richard Susag and his son Cory Susag were working at South County Autobody, an auto repair establishment owned by Richard Susag. As a result of an altercation occurring outside the South County business office, Deputy Chris Thompson sought to arrest Cory Susag. Cory left the altercation scene and walked inside the South County business office. Richard Susag was present in the office when Cory arrived. Deputy Thompson, and numerous back-up deputies, thereafter sought to arrest Cory inside the office. As Cory’s arrest unfolded, Deputy Thompson ordered back-up deputies to remove Richard Susag from the scene. He was ultimately released at the scene without charges being filed. The plaintiff then instituted a suit seeking recovery under federal and state law for excessive force and false arrest and imprisonment.
Contentions: The plaintiff contended that the deputies had no constitutional basis for effecting his restraint as he was on his own property and posed a threat to no one. During his forcible removal, the plaintiff alleged that he was rammed into a vending machine and thrown into a parked car. He alleged that he did not resist the officers and that the deputies’ use of force was consequently excessive. The deputies contended that they had no liability since their actions were reasonable and that the plaintiff wrongfully attempted to prevent the deputies from carrying out their duty in arresting Cory Susag for violation of California Penal Code Section 148. The deputies further contended that they only used reasonable force to restrain Richard Susag and that his allegations to the contrary were knowingly false.
Injuries: The plaintiff alleged a torn rotator cuff to his shoulder, a variety of soft-tissue injuries and on- going emotional distress.
Damages: The plaintiff claimed unspecified general damages and special damages of $30,000.
Jury Trial: Length six days Poll 12-0; Delibration five hours
Settlement Discussions: At the mandatory settlement conference, the plaintiff suggested he would settle for $50,000, which was rejected. No further settlement demand was made.
Other Information: The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial which was denied. The defendants filed a motion for an attorney fees which was denied.
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