$3 Million Shove

Updated: May 22, 2018

Oakland City Council Member Desley Brooks’ assault on former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown may cost the city’s taxpayers $3 million, plus attorney fees.

In a December 21 verdict, an Alameda County Superior Court jury awarded Brown a $3.77 million verdict for a 2015 altercation at a restaurant. The dispute was over city funding of a Brown-linked nonprofit housing and commercial development. Brooks pledged to kill the funding, and allegedly told Brown it was “of no benefit to black people.” Things escalated, and Brooks shoved the 72-year-old Brown over a set of chairs.

Brown hit her head on a table, and suffered bruises and a torn rotator cuff that required surgery. The jury awarded her $2.4 million for past pain and suffering, and another $1.375 million for future suffering. Since the jury found that Brooks was acting on behalf of the city at the time of the incident, the city is responsible for the settlement and any future attorney fees, but a liability insurance policy could cover up to $750,000.

In a separate ruling, Brooks was hit with $550,000 in punitive damages.

A judge could reduce the awards if they are determined to be excessive. Brown’s attorney said the sum is proper, as his client suffered permanent, painful injuries. (Source: San Francisco Chronicle, January 7).

California Tax Foundation   |   1215 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814   |   916.441.0490   |   foundation@caltax.org