$2.8M Verdict for Riverside Police Officer in Ticket Quota Retaliation Case – Mercury News and Press-Enterprise Report on Lawsuit

Following a month-long trial in a ticket quota retaliation case, McNicholas & McNicholas secured a $2.8 million verdict on behalf of now-retired Riverside Police Department Officer Shawn Casteel against the City of Riverside.

In interviews with Mercury News and Press-Enterprise, Partner Matthew McNicholas said, “It’s a complete vindication for Shawn. He stood up for motorists and he’s the one who suffered the harm. It’s a victory for motorists of Riverside, and hopefully, they will no longer be subjected to ticket quotas.”

Section 41600 and 41602 of the California Vehicle Code say that no law enforcement agency may have any policy concerning any requirement regarding the number of arrests or citations. “Any requirement” is far broader than prohibiting “a minimum number.”  “Any requirement” includes things like “more tickets,” “only speeding tickets,” and “only give tickets to people of X race.”

Riverside police officers who supported Casteel testified that not only were numbers given as minimums, for individuals and the unit as a whole, but command would say things like “you write 15 and you can take a break,” and “your numbers are dogs**t.”  When Casteel spoke up about the ticket quotas, and simply refused to ever follow it, he was ultimately retaliated against.

“The failure to meet standards would have been the basis to kick [Shawn] out of the motor unit, a coveted assignment. That is what they were trying to do,” McNicholas added.

Read more about the lawsuit below.

Casteel was a 20-year Riverside Police Department (RPD) veteran and was considered an exemplary officer. In 2013, ticket numbers began being set forth in roll calls. The department said things  like, “you did 18,000 tickets last year, we want 20,000 this year,” and “10 by 10 is not enough.” The department used this data as a benchmark for performance, but Casteel refused to comply and repeatedly raised the issue with supervisors and command.

In 2018, a new supervisor came in who pushed numbers harder, retaliating against Casteel for falling short. Casteel became very outspoken that he was clearly being retaliated against. After months of trying to get command to change, RPD doubled down, sending in other supervisors to get the unit’s attitude changed.

After almost a year of getting nowhere within the department, and no official IA being opened, Casteel sought McNicholas & McNicholas’ help, who filed suit.