On March 8, 2018, LBAC obtained summary judgment in favor of the County of Los Angeles in Sakamoto, et al v. County of Los Angeles, a 14th Amendment failure to protect claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The case involved an elderly man arrested and booked into the Los Angeles County jail on suspicion of driving under the influence. The man spent approximately 12 hours in custody and went missing after he was released. Two days later, his body was located at a nearby maintenance yard, where he died of exposure to the elements. His family brought various state and federal claims against the County alleging it was responsible for the man’s death by releasing him despite knowing that he suffered from mental health issues and was not capable of caring for himself.
After obtaining dismissal of the state law claims, LBAC proved that the decedent was properly evaluated by trained medical personnel and exhibited no signs of mental illness, nor did he report any history or symptoms of mental illness prior to his release. Further, LBAC established that the County was never informed that decedent required special care. The Court granted judgment in favor of the County, holding that the County was not deliberately indifferent in releasing the decedent because the County was not on notice of any risks and there was no continuing post-release special relationship.