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Lawsuits & Litigation

Plaintiff Dies Before Receiving Lawsuit Payout

— March 2, 2017

Patricia Mugrauer filed a lawsuit against Modesto in 2016 after a police officer broke her hip, but dies before she can receive her pay out.

Patricia Mugrauer filed a lawsuit against Modesto in 2016 after a police officer entered her home without a warrant and pushed her.  Murgrauer, a disabled 69 year old senior, fell and broke her hip during the intrusion.  She was awarded $745,651.01 plus legal costs, but passed away one week before the payout.  

Sanjay Schmidt, one of the attorneys who represented Mugrauer in the case, says that “the police tactics were misguided” and Modesto still needs to payout to the woman’s estate. “We hope that the MPD and other departments will train officers in the future regarding what they are, and are not, permitted to do in such situation.  Through their words and actions, [the police officers] abandoned neutrality and transformed the encounter into a ‘curbside courtroom’ during which my clients’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated,” the attorney says.  Blake Loebs, the lead attorney who represented the city says that the plaintiff’s death affects the case, and they are still coming to a resolution.  

Image Courtesy of Paychex

The night of the incident,  a call came in to the Modesto police department to settle a civil dispute between a landlord and tenant.  Mugrauer was renting a room to a man who had recently had his girlfriend move in with him.  However, the couple split on January 12, 2015, and the girlfriend returned to the apartment to retrieve her belongings.  The man wasn’t home at the time, and at his request, Mugrauer decided to not let the woman into the complex until he returned.  

Believing she had a right to retrieve her things and not wanting to confront her ex, the woman notified the department, and Officers John C. Lee and Randy Raduechel responded to the call.  When they arrived, they told Mugrauer she needed to let the woman pass, and that the ex-boyfriend did not need to be present.  Mugrauer argued, as the landlord, she wanted the tenant to be there, that he worked nearby and was on his way. Her adult son came to the door to back her up, stating the officers were not allowed to enter without a warrant.  

Image Courtesy of Modesto Police Department

At that time, Mugrauer placed her hand on the door, and Officer Lee pushed it open, inadvertently causing the woman to stumble backwards and fall to the floor.  Lee accused Mugrauer of attempting to slam the door on him, but a camera caught no evidence of this. Instead, it filmed the woman lying on the floor, yelling, “All right, there’s a lawsuit!” 

Police officers entered Mugrauer’s home without her permission or a warrant.  And, a law professor at UC David School of Law, after reviewing the footage of the officers’ body cameras, confirmed they should not have entered the residence unwelcomed unless there was a true emergency. The department edited the footage after the mishap, so the video only shows part of the interaction with Mugrauer, but it was still enough for the woman to be awarded her payout.  


Modesto agrees to pay nearly $750,000 to settle lawsuit, but plaintiff is now dead

Modesto Agrees to Settle Lawsuit, Then Plaintiff Dies

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