By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 02/23/17 – 5:47 PM PST |
SAN BERNARDINO >> Three alleged victims of police beatings whose judgments would be reduced by 99 percent under the terms of the bankruptcy plan approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury have filed notice that they will appeal that ruling.
City officials expect its bankruptcy plan to unfold as approved during the appeals process, as Stockton’s bankruptcy did when a creditor appealed that bankruptcy confirmation. Anything else would be “extremely unusual,” bankruptcy attorney Michael Sweet, who is not involved in the case, said Thursday.
Jury confirmed San Bernardino’s bankruptcy plan orally in December and issued her 51-page ruling in writing Feb. 7, giving approval to a plan that pays some creditors as little as 1 cent for every dollar they’re owed.
That’s a violation of due process for people like Paul Triplett, who a jury decided in 2006 was entitled to $7.7 million because police beat him after a traffic stop, according to attorney Duane Folke of Los Angeles.
Triplett would get $77,000 under the approved plan, which Folke said is only a fraction of Triplett’s medical bills.
“My concern is all the years of blood, sweat and toil that went into not only drafting but passing the civil rights statute that has made a difference in this country since the ’60s,” Folke said. “If this ruling is left to stand, I am afraid that it will emasculate in part the civil rights statutes, because if you get a police department that does what it did to my client … all they have to do is look to this case and cite it as precedent for why they should be able to pay 1 cent on the dollar.”
Folke is seeking 50 cents on the dollar.
San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy in August 2012, saying a deficit of more than $45 million would leave it unable to make payroll without bankruptcy protection. The nearly five-year bankruptcy has cost at least $25 million but allowed more than $350 million in savings, according to the city.
City Attorney Gary Saenz did not return calls to discuss the appeals. Previously, Saenz has said he sympathizes but that the city had to do what was best for city residents, and he agreed with Judge Jury that there was no legal reason civil rights creditors should be paid more than others who have lawsuits against the city.
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