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Los Angeles Jail Pays $161,000 Settlement for Juvenile Injured Due to Negligent Supervision

The County of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $161,000 to settle a civil rights action that claimed a juvenile offender was seriously injured while held at the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s Central Juvenile Hall (CJH), due to improper supervision.

The plaintiff, 17-year-old Alyssia Frenzel, was detained on an assault with a deadly weapon charge. While at CJH she continuously experienced hallucinations. Concerned that she might injure herself, an intervention plan required staff to keep her hands, wrists and arms in sight and to actively intervene before a situation escalated to self-harm. Her enhanced supervision level required staff to remain in close proximity.

Frenzel was in the coed gymnasium at CJH on May 23, 2008 when she ran out the door for a ball. Staff pursued her, but she ran across the yard, went up a unit’s steps and jumped from the second level. She sustained injuries to both arms and her left elbow, and burst the orbital capillaries in her eyes. Her lawsuit, filed on March 3, 2010, alleged constitutional rights violations, negligent hiring, failure to train and supervise, and general negligence by Probation Department staff.

The Los Angeles County Counsel Office recommended settling the lawsuit for $161,000 on May 14, 2012. It noted that the county had already spent $32,737 in attorney’s fees and $2,541 in costs, and the risks and uncertainties of litigation made settlement the best option.

The recommendation said that disciplinary action – a notice of suspension – was being taken against a CJH employee for not being in close proximity and for being inattentive to Frenzel during her recreational activity. It also noted that action was taken to enhance policies to define close proximity and to ensure that only experienced staff members provide enhanced supervision of juveniles. The County Board of Supervisors subsequently approved the settlement. See: Frenzel v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court (CA), Case No. BC 432895.

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Related legal case

Frenzel v. County of Los Angeles