updated 7:30 pm 5/22/14
The former second in command at the Burbank Police Department won a years-long court battle with the city of Burbank, now that the Court of Appeal of the State of California has denied Burbank’s attempt to overturn a 2012 jury verdict that awarded him nearly $1.3 million.
The city could be paying out more than $2.6 million, including costs and attorney fees.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury awarded former Deputy Police Chief William Taylor $1.29 million in March 2012, when they voted 9 to 3 in his favor.
Taylor’s attorney, Gregory Smith, said mid-day Thursday he was notified by email that the judgment was “affirmed,” and that Taylor had won the appeal.
A three-judge panel in the second appellate district made the decision, although Smith had yet to receive the reason behind the decision.
Taylor alleged he was fired in retaliation for refusing to fire minority police officers, and for complaining about problems in the department he felt should be investigated by an outside agency, among other claims.
Burbank said Taylor was fired for obstructing an investigation of the 2007 Porto’s Bakery and Cafe robbery. Taylor’s was the first of several lawsuits involving current and former officers that were filed after the robbery to go before a jury.
The FBI was investigating the department until recently for alleged civil rights abuses during the robbery investigation.
At least twice in March the Taylor case and other police litigation was discussed in the city’s closed session meetings, which take place before City Council meetings.
City Council meetings are open to the public, while the closed session is exactly that – a meeting of the council behind closed doors, usually to discuss legal matters.
In April, Smith said the city offered to settle. Burbank would give Taylor back pay and a concealed weapons permit. In exchange, Taylor would have to forfeit the judgment.
Back pay is about $200,000, Smith said.
The judgment awarded to Taylor, with interest, is over $2 million, Smith said.
Interest of 7% accrues annually on the $1.29 million from the day of the verdict. That is $90,300 a year.
The city is also on the hook for about $852,000 in attorneys fees and costs in the superior court case. Smith estimated Burbank would also have to pay out about $300,000 in costs and fees for the attorneys that worked on the appeal.
Based on that estimate, the total payout to Taylor and his attorneys could be about $2.68 million.
By law, public entities are required to pay final judgments before the end of their fiscal year, Smith said.
According to the city’s website, Burbank has spent at least $1.64 million through February fighting the Taylor case.
Burbank Public Information Officer Drew Sugars said late today the City had received electronic confirmation of the ruling.
City Attorney Amy Albano was out of the office, and could not comment.
When asked what he thought about the city’s strategy to pursue a case until the very end, Smith said: “When you play hardball, you suffer the consequences.
“Many public entities take a hard line because it’s not their money, it belongs to the taxpayers.”
Taylor filed a lawsuit in June 2009; he was fired in June 2010, along with several other officers for misconduct allegations stemming from the bakery robbery.