Gray·Duffy Settles $375,000 Claim for $2,000 in Assault and Civil Rights Violation Lawsuit

September 2011


Mike Eisenbaum of Gray•Duffy’s Encino office obtained a nominal settlement for $2,000 on a claim in excess of $375,000 involving an alleged assault and civil rights violation.


Winifred McCloud, et al. v. El Tapatio Markets

The plaintiffs, Winifred McCloud and Gralen Brown, were detained for shoplifting by a security guard at the El Tapatio Market and got into an altercation when the security guard attempted to arrest Brown. The police arrived at the scene and arrested both plaintiffs – Brown was arrested on petty theft charges and McCloud for allegedly assaulting and biting the security guard. In the criminal proceedings, Brown pled guilty to theft and McCloud took her case to trial, resulting in a hung jury and dismissal of charges.

The day before the two year statute of limitations expired for their civil case, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for negligence, battery, negligent hiring, training and supervision, civil rights violations under the California UNRUH Civil Rights Act (Civil Code section 50, et seq.), and malicious prosecution. The complaint alleged that the Hispanic security guard was motivated by racial prejudice against the plaintiffs, who were both African American. The complaint filed by McCloud demanded $300,000 and the complaint filed by Brown demanded $75,000.

As discovery progressed, it was evident that the plaintiffs’ claims were questionable, and their settlement demand continued to decrease. Mr. Eisenbaum made repeated demands to the plaintiffs to dismiss the case against the security company. Rather than proceed to trial, the insurer for the security company made a financial decision to resolve the case and pay the nominal sum of $2,000 to McCloud and nothing to Brown, in exchange for dismissals. The co-defendant, El Tapatio Markets, also settled and paid the sum of $3,000 to McCloud and $1,000 to Brown.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.