County Settled With Sheriff’s Widow For $253,000, With Fee Award Greatly Eclipsing The Compensatory Compromise.
As reported by The Modesto Bee and NALFA’s New Blog recently, Dennis Wallace was a sheriff’s deputy in Stanislaus County who was idled two years without pay. He sued Stanislaus County on discrimination claims, even though the suit had to be prosecuted by his widow after he was shot by a suspect when he returned to work as a sheriff later on. The County agreed to settle with the widow for $253,000 with no admission of wrongdoing. However, that did not end the issue. Given that FEHA has a pro-plaintiff fee shifting provision, a Central California judge ordered the County to pay nearly $1.4 million in fees to the widow’s attorneys—demonstrating how FEHA fee awards can exponentially eclipse a compensatory award or settlement to a prevailing plaintiff.