Of the county’s 96 settled lawsuits during the period of August 2008 through January 2014, over one-fifth of the civil lawsuits named the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as a defendant. Plaintiffs were awarded $13.9 million in damages.
The Arrowhead Regional Medical Center racked up nearly 17% of the cases alone, accounting for $7.2 million worth of payments to plaintiffs.
According to the San Bernardino Sun:
“County spokesman David Wert said the high percentages can be attributed to the fact that the Sheriff’s Department and county hospital are among the largest public agencies in the county, with the largest exposure to the public each day and the most vulnerable to liability.”
The Sheriff’s Department and the county hospital routinely deal with “people who are bleeding, who are in trouble, who or are sick, or who are crime victims or perpetrators,” stated Wert. “That’s always going to account for your highest level of liability.”
It should be noted that these numbers are not unreasonable: in neighboring Riverside County, 35% of the county’s settled civil lawsuits named the Sheriff’s Department as defendants, and in San Diego County, the Sheriff’s Department accounts for a whopping 46% of litigation.
San Bernardino’s payouts largely concerned the issue of excessive force, including the death of 400 lb. man who was tased by deputies during a traffic stop at Lake Arrowhead.
For more details on the other settlements—including cases of wrongful termination and high-speed chases—read the full story at the San Bernardino Sun.