Attorney Wins First Ever Media v. Police Suit

July 16, 2010. By Brenda Craig

Los Angeles, CA: Greene, Broillet & Wheeler is a very well-known Los Angeles firm that has handled dozens of high profile personal injury lawsuits. But this was first time Browne Greene had been called upon to represent a journalist. "This is the first time that a journalist has successfully sued a police department for assault and battery and violation of constitutional rights," says Greene, who has gone up against the LAPD before. "This was a precedent-setting case for a very nice gal. It was a very satisfying result."

A jury in Los Angeles recently awarded $1.732 million to veteran TV camerawoman Patti Ballaz after she was clubbed and knocked to the ground by police at an immigration rally that she was covering for a local LA TV station.

Greene says Ballaz was just trying to do her job when "she was attacked from the rear from a whole phalanx of police with batons and guns."

"We had video that showed the battering and physical striking of Patti Ballaz by the police," Greene says. "When you have evidence like that and a good client like Patti, what more do you need?

"They weren't being threatened by her. No one had any rocks or items to throw at police. There was nobody shooting at them. They had absolutely no reason to do what they did."

Ballaz was one of the first women to be hired as a TV cameraperson. She's been shooting video and covering the news for 30 years and is held in high regard by her colleagues, according to Greene.

Although the mayor of Los Angeles, the LAPD chief of police and a police investigation all condemned the attack, the department offered Ballaz only $100,000 to settle the case.

It was a number that Browne Greene thought was inadequate, given that the actions were so widely condemned and Ballaz's injuries were so significant she will never be able to go back to her job. Ballaz has already had four surgeries on her hands and may still require neck and back surgery.

The jury awarded Ballaz $532,000 for past, present and future medical expenses, plus $1 million for the loss of her job and additional $200,000 in non-economic damages.

Browne Greene is a name partner with the firm of Greene, Broillet & Wheeler. The firm handles personal injury suits, civil suits, legal malpractice, employment law and wide range of other legal issues. Greene has been recognized for excellence numerous times and has obtained many seven- and eight-figure settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of his clients.