Atkins v. City of Los Angeles, 2017 WL 588127 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017)

A jury found that the City of Los Angeles violated the rights of five recruit officers of the LAPD under the Fair Employment and Housing Act when the Department terminated or constructively discharged them after they sustained injuries during training at the Police Academy. Judgment was entered for plaintiffs after the jury awarded them over $12 million in damages. The Court of Appeal affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that substantial evidence did not support the jury’s verdict that the City discriminated against the plaintiffs because they could not perform the essential functions of a police recruit even with a reasonable accommodation. However, the Court held that the City failed to reasonably accommodate the recruits by reassigning them until they were healed or their disabilities became permanent. The Court further held that the jury’s award of future economic damages was based upon plaintiffs’ expert’s testimony that “simply assumed” the plaintiffs would have completed their Academy training and probationary period and remained police officers for over 25 years without any evidence of the likelihood that they would “run the table from Academy to retirement.”  Accordingly, the Court directed the trial court to grant the City’s motion for a new trial on future economic damages only.