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5 ex-LAPD recruits each win $2M in jury verdict

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Five former Los Angeles Police Department recruits were each awarded more than $2 million Monday by a jury who found they were wrongfully denied temporary city jobs while recovering from police academy training injuries.

City News Service reports that the Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for two days before awarding Ryan Atkins and Justin Desmond more than $2.6 million, Douglas Boss $2.5 million, Anthony Lee nearly $2.3 million and Eriberto Orea nearly $2.2 million. Most of the money was for lost future wages.

The suit, filed in November 2010, said the city should have accommodated them with other jobs until they recovered. But the city attorney's office argued that the recruits were “conditional employees” who couldn't perform essential functions of their job, so there was no obligation to place them elsewhere.

Attorney Matthew McNicholas, who represented the recruits, said his clients were eager to work and that hundreds of jobs were available and acceptable to them at the time.

McNicholas said Atkins resigned out of fear that he'd never get a job with the LAPD if he was terminated; the others were fired.

Lawyers for the former recruits said the LAPD used to swear in recruits on their first day at the academy, which provided them with protections such as a Board of Rights hearing prior to termination. The LAPD, however, changed that policy so that recruits could be fired as if they were at-will employees. But as part of a settlement agreement with the union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League insisted recruits be allowed to make a “lateral transfer” to another position without having to take an exam.

McNicholas said the men suffered significant humiliation from their treatment.

“Some had the greatest misfortune to feel they were no longer good enough for the women in their lives,” McNicholas said.

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