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Judge orders Burbank to pay former deputy chief’s legal tab, appeal may be filed

The attorneys who successfully represented a former deputy police chief in his retaliation lawsuit stand to get roughly $88,000 less than they expected from Burbank, which has been put on the hook for their legal fees after losing its case in court.

In his final ruling, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Segal ordered Burbank to cough up $852,474 to cover the legal fees of attorneys Gregory Smith and Christopher Brizzolara, who won a nearly $1.3 million judgment against the city for former Deputy Police Chief William Taylor in March.

While City Atty. Amy Albano said she was pleased the final amount is less than the $908,534 tab in the judge’s tentative ruling issued on July 16, she noted an appeal that’s still pending in the case could be the final say in the matter.

“We hope in the end we don’t have to pay any of it, since we are appealing the decision,” Albano said.


In a 9-3 vote in March, a jury sided with Taylor’s claims that he was demoted and then fired for complaining about problems in the department, and for his refusal to fire minority officers.

Since then, Burbank’s request for a new trial was denied and an appeal is pending, although it could be at least a year before the case is heard.

Albano has said that if an appellate court rules in the city’s favor, it would not have to pay the nearly $1.3-million judgment awarded to Taylor, or his attorney’s fees.

Smith and Brizzolara had originally requested about $1.75 million, with about $876,000 of that for hourly charges. But in the most recent ruling, the judge knocked their hourly rate from $600 to $550.


Smith confirmed the amount of the attorney fees awarded but declined to comment further.

Taylor’s case was the first of several lawsuits filed by former and current police officers to go before a jury since allegations of civil rights violations surfaced in the wake of the Porto’s bakery robbery in 2007.

Some of the lawsuits have been dismissed, while some former officers are going through the city’s arbitration process.


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