HARPER v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
D.C. No. CV-03-00959-CJC
Filed July 14, 2008
Before: Jerome Farris and Richard A. Paez, Circuit Judges,
and Frederic Block,* District Judge.
Opinion by Judge Paez
Edward J. Horowitz, Office of Edward J. Horowitz, Pacific
Palisades, California; Dale B. Goldfarb, Harrington, Foxx,
Dubrow & Canter, Los Angeles, California, for the
Jeffrey Isaac Ehrlich, The Ehrlich Law Firm, Claremont, California;
Joseph Y. Avrahamy, Law Offices of Joseph Y.
Avrahamy, Encino, California; Etan Z. Lorant, Law Offices
of Etan Z. Lorant, Encino, California, for the plaintiffsappellees.
PAEZ, Circuit Judge:
This case arises from the Los Angeles Police Department’s
(“LAPD”) investigation and prosecution of three former
police officers, Paul Harper, Brian Liddy, and Edward Ortiz.
These officers were implicated in wrongdoing by former
LAPD officer Rafael Perez in an event that came to be known
as the “Rampart Scandal”—an event that, based on Perez’s
own unlawful conduct and his allegations of corruption at the
Rampart Division, launched an internal investigation that ultimately
implicated scores of police officers, overturned dozens
of convictions, and generated intense media scrutiny. The
criminal charges against these officers resulted in acquittals.
Harper, Liddy, and Ortiz (the “Officers”) subsequently
brought suit against a number of actors, including Perez, the
district attorneys, the City of Los Angeles, and former Chief
of Police Bernard Parks for violations of their constitutional
civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, contending among other
claims that the defendants had conducted an improper and
negligent investigation, and that they had been arrested without
probable cause for falsifying a police report and conspiring
to file such a report.
The Officers’ claims against the County of Los Angles,
District Attorney Gil Garcetti, Rafael Perez, and Deputy District
Attorneys Laesecke and Ingalls were dismissed on Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motions or motions for
summary judgment, and the case proceeded to trial against the
City of Los Angeles and Chief Parks (“the City”). After an
eleven-day trial, the jury returned a special verdict in favor of
the Officers, finding that the Officers’ constitutional rights
were violated by the City and by Chief Parks in his official
capacity.1 The jury awarded each officer compensatory damages
in the amount of $5,000,001. The City thereupon filed a
number of post-judgment motions, including a renewed
motion under Rule 50(b) for judgment as a matter of law. The
district court denied the motions, and the City appealed. We
affirm. “[W]e do not lightly cast aside the solemnity of the
jury’s verdict.” Graves v. City of Coeur D’Alene, 339 F.3d
828, 844 (9th Cir. 2003). Both the jury’s verdict and the jury’s
damages award are supported by substantial evidence. We
also affirm the district court’s challenged evidentiary rulings.
Because we affirm both the verdict and the district court’s
determination on the post-judgment motions, we also affirm
the district court’s award for attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C.