Man being searched for weapons on train platform is killed when he is struck by arriving train.
- Case Name: Estate of Cesar Rodriguez and Rosa Moreno v. City of Long Beach and Martin Ron
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. 20STCV16225
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, January 20, 2023
- Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, April 28, 2020
- Type of Case: Civil Rights, Negligence, Wrongful Death
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Gregory W. Alarcon
Plaintiffs: Estate of Cesar RodriguezRosa Moreno
Defendants: City of Long BeachMartin Ron
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $12,270,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 10 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours liability; 2 hours damages
- Jury Polls: 12-0
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Casillas & Associates by Arnoldo Casillas, Daniel Gillette and Leonel Mojica, Long Beach.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Office of the Long Beach City Attorney by Matthew M. Peters and Nicholas J. Masero, Long Beach.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Jeff Noble, police practices.
Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Edward Flosi, police practices.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Plaintiff's decedent, a 23-year-old man, was riding a Metro blue-line train in Long Beach and was taken off the train to be cited for fare evasion along with six other passengers. Long Beach PD officer Martin Ron decided to arrest him for fare evasion and giving a false name (“Anthony” instead of “Cesar Antonio”). While decedent was being patted down on the platform, a train approached and plaintiff was struck by the train and killed.
That the officer applied a special pat-down search technique, which requires the officer to take subject off balance (Standing Modified Search). When the pat-down started, they were standing 40 inches from the edge of the platform as a train approached the station at a high speed. The search technique calls for the officer to stand behind the suspect, pull him backwards off balance and hold him off balance during the search. As he performed the pat-down, the officer did not realize the train was approaching them as he took Cesar off balance. As the train was about to reach them, Cesar pulled forward to regain his balance because of his proximity to the oncoming train, and the officer took him to the ground, believing that Cesar was resisting. As he was taken down to the platform, Cesar’s lower torso went off the edge of the platform just as the train reached them. Cesar was struck and crushed between the train and the platform.
Plaintiff contended hat it was negligent for the officer to conduct a standing modified search, which would deliberately take the young man off balance, that close to the edge of the train platform. Other search options existed: the platform was wide enough to have conducted the pat-down away from the edge of the platform, and Cesar was cooperative, polite and respectful such that there was no pressing need to use that tactic or use it at that location. The reflexive response to being taken off balance was a known and easily foreseeable response to being unexpectedly off balance.
That Cesar was attempting to flee from the police and that he was the sole cause of the incident.
Injuries and Other Damages
Rosa suffered the loss of her son, Cesar's love, his affection and loss of society.