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Los Angeles County Settles Minor's Attempted Suicide Claim for $161,000

On May 14, 2012, the Counsel General of the County of Los Angeles, California recommended settlement of a lawsuit filed by a minor who was seriously injured jumping from the second level of a structure while in county custody. The settlement amount was $161,000. Central Juvenile Hall (CJH) policy was also changed to prevent future incidents.

Alyssia Frenzel, 17, was detained at CJH related to an assault with a deadly weapon charge. She was continuously hallucinatory while at

CJH. Department of Mental Health staff expressed concern at her potential for self-injury and recommended keeping her hands, wrists and arms in sight at all times and active intervention should she attempt to harm herself. Therefore, CJH staff placed her on Level 3 and Level 4 Supervision Status which generally requires a designated staff member to remain in close proximity.

Two and a half months after she entered CJH, Frenzel was in the gym when she ran out of the door for a ball. Pursued by staff, she crossed a grass field, climbed steps and jumped from the second level of the Unit C/D. She sustained injuries to both arms, her left elbow and burst the orbital capillaries in both eyes.

Assisted by attorney Daniel G. Sheldon, Frenzel filed suit in state court. After two years of litigation, the county offered to settle for $161,000. The county also stated that it would pursue appropriate disciplinary action against the staff member supervising Frenzel and change CJH policy to clarify the definition of "close proximity to minor" to specifically state "approximately 8-12 feet" and "experienced staff" in relation to staff with experience as Group Supervisor Nights. At the time of the settlement offer, the county had already paid $32,737 in attorney fees and $2,541 in costs. See: Frenzel v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC 432 895.


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Related legal case

Frenzel v. County of Los Angeles