Settlement Talks Scheduled to Get Underway in Mitrice Richardson Litigation
• Consolidated Lawuits Alleging Negligence for Not Providing Medical Aid Set for Trial
BY ANNE SOBLE
The Malibu Surfside News has learned that settlement talks between the attorneys for the parents of Mitrice Richardson and the contract counsel for Los Angeles County are slated to begin.
The consolidated lawsuits filed by Richardson's mother, Latice Sutton, and father, Michael Richardson (the two were not married), have been whittled down to allegations of negligence on the part of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department in getting medical attention for their daughter, and set for trial.
The county now has apparently determined that it is in its interest to explore settlement.
Sutton's attorney, Leo Terrell, has indicated from the start of the legal process that the county would not want its treatment of Richardson subjected to the public spotlight and would settle if it did not succeed in getting the case thrown out.
Reports that are circulating about the depositions by LASD personnel indicate there may be perceived inconsistencies and other issues with testimony by those who had contact with Richardson at the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station that might have raised a red flag with county attorneys.
Richardson, 24, a Cal State Fullerton honors graduate and beauty pageant competitor, had been taken into custody on Sept. 16, 2009, after being placed under citizen's arrest by the manager at Geoffrey's restaurant where she reportedly exhibited bizarre behavior and was unable to pay an $89 dinner tab.
Her parents allege that LASD personnel failed to get necessary medical attention for Richardson in light of her behavior. It is now thought that she might have been experiencing a bipolar episode. Witnesses described what are said to be obvious indications that she was mentally distressed.
Subsequent investigation of diaries found in her car determined that she might not have slept for five days and was exhausted and disoriented.
An LASD videotape, still in contention, appears to show that Richardson's behavior at Lost Hills warranted medical attention. It may also indicate she was not assisted when she was unable to use a station telephone to call relatives.
Richardson was released alone just after midnight on Sept. 17, 2009, from the side entrance of the station, on foot, without her cell phone, purse or other belongings, which she had been directed to place in her impounded car.
Apart from a report that she was sighted the next morning not far from the area where her skeletal remains were found, she was never seen again.
Those remains were discovered in August 2010, 11 months after she went missing, in a dense brushy area off Piuma Road. An official cause of death has not been determined.
DNA test results of eight bones found three months ago in a second field check at the site where her remains were happened upon have not been made public by the county coroner's department.
Calls to the coroner's office by family members and media are not being returned.