Class Actions as a Check on LAPD: What Has Worked and What Has Not


This Comment analyzes class actions brought against the Los Angeles Police Department to
examine how effective class actions are as a tool for reforming police practices, and how they can be improved. To determine the effectiveness of class actions, I compare the remedies obtained in class actions to the claims brought in later cases with similar facts; specifically, I focus on whether the Los Angeles Police Department violated the terms of previous injunctions or settlement agreements to measure how effective the previous class actions were in reshaping police practices. I focus on class actions brought on behalf of protestors, who alleged First and Fourth Amendment violations, and unhoused persons, who alleged improper seizures under the Fourth Amendment. The political protest cases suggest that class action remedies may be effective in changing police practices in narrow circumstances. However, most of my analysis shows that class action remedies often fall short when it comes to systemic change. In this Comment, I recommend that litigators consider crafting remedies that allow ongoing negotiations and monitoring, reflecting the experimentalist approach originally advocated by Charles F. Sable and William H. Simon.

About the Author

Associate Editor, UCLA Law Review; Chief Articles Editor, UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal, Volume 23. J.D., UCLA School of Law, Class of 2020; B.A. Communication, University of Southern California, Class of 2017.