Five of Miami’s Most Measly Legal Settlements

Five of Miami’s Most Measly Legal Settlements

The City of Miami has spent nearly $80 million over the past decade making lawsuits disappear, according to records obtained by New Times. While some of the settlements have been as costly as a lavish mansion on Star Island ($20 million), others have been as affordable as the nigiri omakase at Wabi Sabi on the 79th Street Causeway ($100).

From slip-and-falls to alleged police K9 brutality, here are some of the most measly settlements the city has paid out from January 1, 2010, by September 30, 2021, listed from high to low:

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Lucas Valenzuela was left with several serious dog bites across his body.

$4,500: Dog Bites Man

In April 2010, Lucas Valenzuela was the subject of a burglary investigation by Miami police officers who responded to a call in Little Haiti.

When police arrived, they ordered Valenzuela to surrender and he complied. But Officer Robert Cousellant allowed a police K9 to continue attacking Valenzuela, who was left with several serious bites across his body, according to a lawsuit Valenzuela filed against the city and Cousellant in April 2014.

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In January 2018, the city settled with Valenzuela for $4,500.

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Cop car hits cyclist. City pays.

Photo by City of Miami Police

$3,000: Cop Car Hits Cyclist

On February 8, 2014, 53-year-old Pablo Garcia was riding his bicycle on Biscayne Boulevard between NE 37th and 38th streets when he was hit by a City of Miami police car pushed by Officer Troy English.

According to a lawsuit he filed against the city in November of that year, Garcia was thrown from his bike and suffered “meaningful bodily injury.” The lawsuit claimed English was negligent in operating the police cruiser when he hit Garcia.

In July of 2015, the city settled with Garcia for $3,000.

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The hole Rafael Angulo tumbled into was thorough. The city dug thorough for $1,200.

$1,200: A Costly Crevice

On a dark and stormy day in June 2014, Rafael Angulo was crossing SE Sixth Street when he tumbled into a pit that swallowed up portions of the sidewalk, curb, and street. The following April, Angulo sued the city and Florida strength & Light Company (FPL) — which were doing construction work on the pit. Angulo alleged in court that the area surrounding the pit was “unlighted, unprotected, and unguarded” when he fell into it.

The lawsuit states that Angulo suffered “excruciating pain” and injured his right ankle, leg, spine, ligaments, and tendons, leaving him with a “crippling, painful injury,” in addition as long-lasting damage to his body that has required rehabilitative therapy.

In November 2015, the city settled with Angulo for $1,200.

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A rough arrest cost the city $500.

$500: Injury Begets Injury

In June of 2007, Vincent Post was leaving his apartment in Miami when he accidentally opened the building’s substantial steel front door onto the foot of his neighbor, Brigida Flores. Post apologized to Flores and continued to his destination, according to a lawsuit Post filed against the Miami Police Department (MPD) in 2011.

When he returned home later that day, Post was “violently arrested” by two MPD officers, who accused him of aggravated battery against Flores, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that the officers – K. Mcillwain and B. Shaffner – threw him to the ground and yanked him out of the police cruiser, causing injury to his head.

In 2012, the city settled with Post for $500.

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A trip-and-fall cost Miami taxpayers a crisp $50 bill.

$50: Taking a Fall

In February of 2011, Nury Molina was taking a stroll on a sidewalk near the YWCA in Miami when a “dangerous and unsafe” area caused her to trip and fall violently to the ground. In 2015, she sued the city, Miami-Dade County, and the YWCA of Greater Miami-Dade, alleging that she suffered injuries and “disability or physical impairment” from the fall.

The complaint doesn’t make clear the specific character of Molina’s injuries.

The case dragged on for four years. In 2020, the city settled with Molina for $50.

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