Wednesday, October 2, 2002
County Settles Suits Over Strip Searches, Wrongful Death
By LORELEI LAIRD, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to settle for $150,000 a lawsuit brought by a woman claiming she was unlawfully strip searched twice by sheriff’s deputies.
Tracey Rosenberg of San Francisco was arrested by Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies after participating in protests outside the Rampart police station of alleged police abuse arising from the Rampart scandal. She was charged with interfering with the business of a public entity, a misdemeanor.
After her arrest, she claimed, she and other women from the protest—but not the men—were unlawfully strip searched in a hallway in Los Angeles County Jail, “with the intent to humiliate and embarrass.”
Legally, sheriff’s deputies can only strip search those arrested for felonies, drug offenses or violent crimes, or when there’s a reasonable suspicion that the detainee is carrying contraband.
Rosenberg further claimed that she was unlawfully detained after a judge ordered her freed on Aug. 17, 2000. It was not until about 9 a.m. on Aug. 18 that she was released.
She claimed the second strip search happened after she was ordered released. In addition, she alleged, phone calls and access to attorneys were unreasonably delayed while she was in jail, and food was “late and rancid.”
With the $150,000 settlement, plus attorney’s fees and court costs, the case will cost the county approximately $166,468.
Rosenberg’s attorney, Carol Watson of Manes & Watson, was not available for comment yesterday.
The board also continued, until Oct. 15, discussion of a “corrective action plan” related to another settlement, with the family of Marjorie Binion.
Binion is alleged to have died as a result of negligent care at a county health facility. Binion was in the hospital for knee surgery when she developed an unrelated infection, which the plaintiffs alleged the medical staff failed to recognize and properly treat.
They further alleged that the hospital’s staff inserted a breathing tube into Binion’s trachea, collapsing her lung and contributing to her death about three hours later. The board voted last month to approve a settlement of $170,000, and the case cost the county nearly $225,000 in total.
Also yesterday, the board took no action on the recommendation to settle its own lawsuit against the state Department of Health Services over Medi-Cal reimbursements. If that settlement is approved, the county will receive a total of $361,480.
Supervisors also took no action on a corrective action plan stemming from a lawsuit it voted to settle on Sept. 3, related to fees the county owed to the Coast Plaza Doctors Hospital for its treatment of sheriff’s detainees.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company