Deputies Must Foot the Bill in Pepper-Spray Case

     (CN) — Three Los Angeles County deputies who pepper-sprayed an inmate’s private parts should not be reimbursed by the county for the ensuing lawsuit, a California appeals court ruled.
     David Chang, Kris Cordova and Anthony Pimentel attacked inmate Alejandro Franco on Nov. 5, 2007, according to court records. The deputies used pepper spray on Franco’s genitals and anus.
     Franco successfully sued the deputies for battery and civil-rights violations. He won a judgment of over $451,000 in compensatory damages, costs and attorney fees, but he hasn’t received his money yet.
     The deputies sued Los Angeles County for indemnification, claiming that their actions arose from their employment.
     The county argued that it should not pay because the jury found that the deputies acted with malice.
     The trial court ruled in the deputies’ favor, but the Second District California Court of Appeal reversed the decision July 1.
     Justice Sandy R. Kriegler cited the legal defense agreement the deputies signed with the county, reserving the county’s right to withdraw in case of “fraud, corruption or actual malice.”
     “The county showed the jury found the deputies acted with actual malice, or at the very least, a triable issue of fact existed as to whether the deputies acted with malice,” he wrote on behalf of the court’s three-justice panel. “Therefore, the deputies’ motion for summary adjudication of the issue of indemnification should have been denied.”

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