Los Angeles County Sheriff Jail

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Men’s Central Jail Wednesday, December 7, 2011. Hans Gutknecht – Staff Photographer

By Kelly Goff, Los Angeles Daily News
Posted: 12/14/13, 1:11 PM PST |

Several of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies named in federal indictments last week are also named defendants in civil lawsuits that could end up costing the county millions of dollars.

The names of five out of the 18 defendants in the federal cases alleging jailhouse beatings, false reports and other charges also appear in a handful of lawsuits detailing alleged abuses going back to 2009. Legal experts say convictions in the criminal cases will likely mean large payouts in the civil cases.

“The indictments could be a saving grace for the attorneys in the civil cases,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School. “If there are convictions, then it’s not about proving guilt in the civil matter, it’s about who is going to pay and how much.”

One suit related to an alleged jailhouse beating was settled in February, with the county paying $475,000 to a former inmate. Levenson said that amount sets a precedent for the amount of money plaintiffs could expect in similar cases in the future. The county has already spent more than $100 million to settle lawsuits related to the department in the last three years.

Two of the incidents detailed in documents submitted in connection with a pair of suits are the basis of the criminal indictment, with similar accounts of visitors to the jail alleging severe beatings at the hands of deputies.

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