Gomez v. City of San Diego (2008)
$7.9 million jury verdict
Largest police misconduct verdict in San Diego County history (co-counsel, J. Jude Basile). Plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury after being knocked to the ground by a San Diego police officer. The recovery from the City of San Diego was sufficient to care for medical and living expenses for the rest of his life.
Green v. County of San Diego (2000)
$1.5 million jury verdict
At the time, the largest police misconduct verdict in San Diego County. Plaintiff promoted, planned and staged a two day concert that was sabotaged by San Diego sheriff’s deputies. The jury found that the deputies violated his First and Fourth Amendment constitutional rights, and assessed damages of $1.5 million.
Recent Verdicts & Settlements
L.H. v. City of El Cajon (2018)
Police shooting, wrongful death
This case involved a high speed chase of two people in a stolen car, with warrants out for their arrests. The chasing officers cornered the car at the end of a cul-de-sac. An officer got out of his car and pointed his gun at the car. The officer claimed that the driver drove the car at him, so he fired three shots at the driver. However, the shots hit and killed the passenger. A settlement of $850,000 was achieved for the parents of the deceased.
M.J. v. County of San Diego (2016)
$600,000 jury verdict, plus attorney’s fees
Excessive force and false arrest
Plaintiff was beaten by San Diego County sheriff’s deputies and bitten by a police dog, resulting in severe injuries. The County claimed that the plaintiff violently resisted arrest and that their deputies only used force that was reasonable and necessary. The jury disagreed. (Co-counsel Thomas E. Robertson.)
Hart v. San Diego Unified School District (2016)
$175,000 settlement for false arrest
A high school student was arrested on campus after being identified as the one who assaulted and robbed another student. However, the police arrested the wrong person, due to an inadequate investigation.
Wilkerson v. City of San Diego (2015)
Unanimous jury verdict with total recovery of $643,100 (Co-counsel Joseph McMullen and Thomas Robertson)
Excessive force and false arrest
A young Marine, his wife, and a friend were walking in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego at 2:00 a.m. A man insulted the Marine’s wife, and words were exchanged. The man sucker-punched the Marine and ran away. Police officers grabbed the Marine and threw him down, ostensibly for fighting. His friend protested, and he, too, was thrown down and arrested. Both men were taken to jail, but no criminal charges were filed. The men sued the officers and the City for false arrest and excessive force. The City refused to settle the case. At trial, the jury found for the plaintiffs, and awarded damages, including punitive damages against two officers, of $112,500. The total recovery, including costs and attorney fees, was $643,100.
Mazon v. County of Riverside (2015)
$700,000 settlement for mother of deceased
Jail suicide by combat veteran with PTSD who was arrested for attempted murder. Jail officials knew he was suicidal, and originally placed him in a safety cell. However, the next morning they removed him from the safety cell, and placed him alone in a regular cell. Shortly thereafter, he committed suicide. (Co-counsel Joseph H. Low.)
Barman v. County of San Diego (2010)
$1.2 million settlement
Excessive force, unlawful search and seizure
A candidate for Congress had a wine and cheese fundraiser at a home in Carlsbad. Responding to a noise complaint, a sheriff’s deputy entered the house, arrested and injured the homeowner, and pepper sprayed some of the guests when they protested. A settlement of $1.2 million was achieved, along with mandatory re-training for the deputy, and a very rare additional condition - a letter of apology to the plaintiffs from the sheriff’s department.
Johnson v. County of San Diego (2007)
$400,000 jury verdict
False arrest, excessive force, racial profiling
Two teenage brothers were falsely arrested outside a movie theater by two sheriff’s deputies. One of the brothers was physically assaulted. The County claimed the brothers were violating a curfew law and resisted the deputies, thus the deputies acted lawfully. The jury disagreed, finding that the brothers’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated by the deputies, and awarded $200,000 to each plaintiff.
In civil rights cases, it is common for cities and counties to appeal verdicts or rulings against the police. Appellate courts publish a relatively small percentage of the cases they decide. Court of appeal decisions that are published can be cited as precedent in future cases, thereby helping future plaintiffs achieve justice.
Mr. Marrinan has been appellate counsel in seven cases that were published by state and federal courts of appeal, all but one of which was decided in favor of his clients. These cases have been cited as precedent in numerous cases over the years, and will continue to be for years to come.
Sialoi v. City of San Diego
823 F.3d 1223 (9th Cir. 2016)
Illegal detention, excessive force and unlawful search of many family members attending a birthday party. The City of San Diego filed a pre-trial motion seeking dismissal of the case without trial. The judge ruled against them, and the City appealed. Plaintiffs prevailed on every issue on appeal, and later obtained favorable jury verdicts for several of the plaintiffs.
Magana v. County of San Diego
835 F.Supp.2d 906 (S.D. CA 2011)
Excessive force and false arrest case. County brought a motion for judgment in favor sheriff’s deputies prior to trial. The judge denied the motion, and ordered that his ruling be published. The Court found that plaintiff’s evidence supported his claim of excessive force and false arrest. Shortly thereafter, a favorable settlement was achieved.
Saraswati v. County of San Diego
202 CA 4th 917 (2011)
Plaintiff sued to have his name removed from a child abuse index, because he was falsely charged and was innocent. A judge dismissed his case, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the County and the judge applied the wrong legal standard. Plaintiff won the appeal, and eventually had his named removed from the index. This case set an important precedent that has benefitted many other falsely accused persons.
Lombardi v. City of El Cajon
117 F.3d 1117 (9th Cir. 1997)
Plaintiff sued the City of El Cajon and a police officer for an unlawful search of the plaintiff’s home, based on a search warrant that was obtained unlawfully. The judge dismissed the case before trial, and plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeals ruled the plaintiff had shown a violation of his constitutional rights, and sent the case back for trial.
Poppell v. City of San Diego
149 F.3d 951 (9th Cir. 1998)
The plaintiff was a well known operator of legal sex club in San Diego. The City tried to prosecute the plaintiff, harass him, and run him out of business. Mr. Marrinan took his case to trial and, to the surprise of many, obtained a verdict of $200,000.00 against police officers and a zoning official. The City and the zoning official appealed the verdict, and prevailed on appeal. However, the judgment against the police officers remained valid, and the City paid that part of the judgment, plus attorneys fees.
Nunez v. City of San Diego
114 F.3d 935 (9th Cir. 1997)
The ACLU of San Diego, assisted by Mr. Marrinan and other volunteer lawyers, challenged the constitutionality of a juvenile curfew ordinance in the City of San Diego. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, holding that the ordinance was unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.
Pollack v. DMV
38 Cal.3d 367 (1985)
As a young lawyer, one of Mike’s cases reached the California Supreme Court. Mike felt that the DMV was wrongfully suspending the driver’s licenses of hundreds of Californians. Mike took on the Pollack case, pro bono, in an effort to stop the DMV’s practice. Mike prevailed in the superior court, and again in the Court of Appeal (153 Cal.App.3d 535). Four of the seven justices of the California Supreme Court saw it differently and, in a 4-3 decision, upheld the DMV’s license suspensions.