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Burbank opts to appeal police detective verdict

Council moves to fight $150K award granted to Armenian detective who claimed bias.

July 14, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

For the second time, Burbank has decided to continue fighting a jury verdict, this time involving a $150,000 award to an Armenian American police detective who said he was harassed and discriminated against because of his ethnicity.

Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano announced the decision, reached in closed session with the City Council, to appeal the verdict involving current police Det. Steve Karagiosian, who was awarded $150,000 in April.

In late March, Karagiosian testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court that detectives and sergeants in the police department regularly used derogative terms when referring to Armenians, including “towel heads.”

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Karagiosian was part of a multi-plaintiff lawsuit with four other former and current officers that was filed in 2009 alleging harassment and discrimination based on ethnicity and gender, among other claims.

“Based on the information presented to me, it appeared this was the appropriate approach to take at this time,” Councilman David Gordon said in an email.

The city initially filed a motion for a new trial, but was denied.

Last month, Gordon was the only council member to vote against appealing the case involving former Deputy Chief William Taylor, who won an almost $1.3-million judgment after claiming he was demoted and then fired in retaliation for his refusal to terminate minority officers and because he complained of problems in the department.

Burbank's request for a new trial was also denied in the Taylor case.

Burbank has spent more than $1 million through March on the Taylor case, according to city documents.

A judge is also scheduled to hear arguments next week over a request filed by Taylor's attorney for the city to pay about $1.75 million in legal fees.

The amount spent on the Karagiosian trial was not immediately available, although city documents show Burbank has spent about $3.4 million on the multi-plaintiff lawsuit through March.

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