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Los Angeles to pay $3.5 million to settle lawsuit filed by woman who fell from LAPD cruiser

Los Angeles to pay $3.5 million to settle lawsuit filed by woman who fell from LAPD cruiser
A woman who fell out of a moving Los Angeles police car has reached a settlement with the city and officers. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Los Angeles will pay $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who fell from a moving police cruiser and suffered serious injury, according to court documents.

The settlement, which was reached on Jan. 27, wraps up years of litigation between the city and plaintiff Kim Nguyen.

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The litigation stemmed from an incident that occurred in Koreatown on St. Patrick's Day in 2013, when Nguyen was arrested by LAPD Officers David Shin and Jin Oh on West 6th Street for public intoxication. The officers had seen her running across the street between Oxford and Serrano avenues and stopped her.

After she was handcuffed and placed in the back of their squad car, they drove away. As the officers drove east on Olympic Boulevard, one of the rear passenger doors opened and Nguyen fell out of the squad car, according to her suit.

Nguyen slammed into the street and laid there until the officers returned for her.

A surveillance camera in the area partially captured the incident, but it didn't record Nguyen falling out of the car.  In the video, Nguyen appears to be unconscious while lying in the street with bruising visible on her face.

The footage shows officers standing around her until she moves slightly.

According to police, Nguyen fell out as the car accelerated from a stop.

After the incident, Nguyen's attorney said she shattered her jaw and had bleeding in her brain, as well as emotional and psychological injury.

In June 2013, Nguyen sued the officers and the city for negligence, saying the officers "carelessly failed to properly secure" her in the squad car.

Nearly two years later, she filed a federal suit, alleging one of the officers sexually battered her.

In that March 2015 federal lawsuit, Nguyen claimed that while she was being driven to jail, the officers stopped the squad car and one of them climbed into the rear passenger seat with her. One of the officers, the suit said, sexually battered her "intentionally touching her in the left thigh, left chest/breast, and pulled on [her] left ear."

A U.S. District Court judge dismissed Nguyen's claim in November 2015. The judge ruled Nguyen's state and federal suits "share a common transactional nucleus of facts" and that both address "the right of bodily safety."

Nguyen's attorneys appealed the decision to U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeal was voluntarily dismissed on Feb. 3.

Nguyen's attorney, Mark Baute, said last month's settlement of the Los Angeles Superior Court case was a fair deal.

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"Kim is ready to move forward," he said.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office declined to comment on the settlement.

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA 

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