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City of Los Angeles pays out hundreds of millions in liability


$125.2 million in claims against LAPD

The city of Los Angeles has paid out nearly $472 million in the last three years for liability claims, with the most money being used to cover the police, sanitation and street services departments.

City Controller Kenneth Mejia launched a website charting the city's liability claim payouts from fiscal years 2020-23. According to the data, the city has covered about $125.2 million in claims associated with the Los Angeles Police Department, followed by $93.7 million for Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment and $88.4 million for Street Services.

“To help the community and decision makers better understand what city departments are giving rise to liability claim payouts, we've gathered relevant and necessary data below to provide this financial transparency,'' Mejia wrote in his report. “We hope this information helps the city better manage its responsibilities and avoid the kinds of risk and harm that give rise to liability claims and payments.''

Other departments and bureaus that had significant costs due to liability claim payouts include the following:

— $50.6 million associated with the transportation department;

— $23.3 million associated with the bureau of contract administration;

— $21.8 million associated with the fire department;

— $21.3 million associated with the recreation and parks department;

— $19.9 million associated with the office of finance;

— Nearly $8 million associated with the bureau of engineering; and

— $3.1 million associated with the city council.

Mejia's office defined liability claim payouts as payments the city has to make to “those it has injured when it has failed to meet its responsibilities, or when city officials or employees directly harm people–or or fail to prevent avoidable harm to people.''

Liability claim payouts usually are not taken out of the budgets of the city departments responsible. Instead, a significant portion comes out of the General Fund, the city's fund for providing services and resources for Angelenos, the controller's office noted.

Liability claims can be broken down further based on the category or type of claim filed. Claims made as a result of dangerous conditions cost the city $145.5 million; followed by traffic collisions ($88.8 million); civil rights/excessive or unlawful use of force ($67.3 million); general municipal law ($64.5 million); law and employment ($56.9 million); taxes ($19.6 million); professional negligence ($18.7 million); land use, real property and environment ($10.4 million); breach of contract ($157K); and miscellaneous ($99K).