Settlement in Mitrice Richardson
Lawsuit Awaits Parents' Signatures
• Board of Supervisors Announces Its Approval on Public
Agenda This Week
BY ANNE SOBLE
The unmarried parents of Mitrice Richardson are expected to sign the paperwork this week awarding each of them
$450,000 to terminate their claims of negligence and wrongful death against Los
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a
settlement total of $900,000 in a closed-door meeting on Aug. 16, subject to
all parties signing the agreement. Sources in the county indicated that the
contract counsel representing its case had made offers as low as $100,000.
Sources further said that the matter would not have been put
before the board if there was not an expectation of its acceptance by the
parents who had filed separate lawsuits alleging negligence by the Los Angeles
Sheriff's Department that were then consolidated.
The matter was agendized on
Tuesday's board meeting as item CS (4), which noted that the board unanimously
(4-0) "approved the settlement in Latice Sutton v.
County of Los Angeles; Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC
440685 and Michael Richardson v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior
Court Case No. BC 442405—A wrongful death case alleging that Los Angeles
Sheriff's Department conduct contributed to the death of plaintiffs' decedent."
Richardson disappeared on Sept. 17, 2009, after she was
released from the custody of the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station shortly
after midnight on foot, without her purse or cell phone.
She had been booked the previous evening for alleged
inability to pay an $89 dinner tab at Geoffrey's restaurant, where patrons and
staff said she was behaving bizarrely.
Family members kept up a media drumbeat that the 24-year-old
honors college graduate did not receive medical
attention for what might have been the onset of a bipolar condition.
Richardson's naked and partially mummified skeletal remains
were found 11 months later in a remote area of Malibu Canyon about seven miles
from the Lost Hills Station.
Richardson's remains, interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery,
were exhumed last month by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office so they and
another nine bones confirmed to be hers could be restudied.
Her parents, Latice Sutton and
Michael Richardson, also have maintained that the LASD's initial handling of
their daughter's remains prevented determination of the cause of her death, a
claim that is also asserted by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.
The parents' consolidated litigation had been pared down
considerably by Judge William Fahey and was set for trial next month.
Many supporters following the case had expressed a
preference that the matter go to trial so that
discovery and depositions could be made public. Unconfirmed rumors about
retractions and inconsistent testimony have been rife during the discovery
With settlement often comes agreements that curtail the public statements and actions of the settling
plaintiffs. In addition, there has been no official word on the effect
settlement will have on any ongoing investigation.
Until everyone has signed on their respective dotted lines,
LASD spokesperson Steve Whitmore said, "I do not have confirmation on any final
settlement so I wouldn't have a comment at this time."
Neither parent's website has made reference to a legal
settlement. However, Michael Richardson made an enigmatic comment on a social
media page three weeks ago that he "is cashing in now." Sutton has not yet
responded to settlement inquiries publicly.