LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm McNicholas & McNicholas obtained a $2.1 million verdict against the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on behalf of former LAPD detective Maria Elena Montoya, who was retaliated against after taking a medically ordered and approved disability leave. The complaint, filed in in April 2013, alleged that upon returning to work, Officer Montoya’s supervisors subjected her to adverse employment actions, including stripping her of her Peace Officers powers, transferring her out of a coveted detective assignment, suspending her, and more. As a direct result of these actions, Officer Montoya not only suffered humiliation, anxiety and emotional distress, but irreparable damage was done to her career. On April 5, 2016, a jury awarded Officer Montoya $2.1 million.
“After 17 years of service, we demonstrated that the Department ran the plaintiff off the job because of her use of disability time,” said lead counsel Matthew McNicholas. “We provided testimony that evidence was not preserved and was in fact, hidden.”
In November of 2011, while on vacation, Officer Montoya suffered a severe back injury, which forced her to take medical leave until January 2012. Upon returning to work on “light duty” restrictions, she was immediately re-assigned from the Sex Crimes detective desk to the Burglary desk. Officer Montoya informed the Los Angeles Police Protective League (the union) of the reassignment, as she believed it was improper. The incident caused so much stress that she was rushed to hospital on January 19, 2012 and treated for severe anxiety. Officer Montoya then filed a formal complaint with LAPD’s Internal Affairs on January 26, 2012 for retaliation and harassment. In February of 2012, she was suspended. In November of 2012 the Department sent a letter to inform her the complaint was unfounded and had been dismissed.