Our firm finished the first quarter of 2015 with a $500,000.00 civil rights settlement for a union worker against a nearby municipality. The settlement terms prevent us from disclosing the names of the parties but this case started as a routine traffic stop which escalated into felony charges. Our client was charged with six counts of aggravated assault against local enforcement. Based on our advice, he rejected a pre-trial offer which would have resulted in the dismissal of all the felony charges. These charges exposed him to a state prison sentence. Literally days prior to jury selection and trial, however, the prosecution dropped it.
Our firm filed suit in a United States District Court, seeking compensatory and punitive damages for a violation of our client’s rights under the 4th and 14th Amendments and federal civil rights statutes, 42 USC § 1983, 28 USC § 1343, 42 USC § 1985. In addition to the federal claims, we also sought recovery under the State’s civil rights act statutes and common law negligence. Further, we demanded compensation for his physical injuries which included a fractured orbital, a slap tear injury which required surgery, and a loss of consortium claim on behalf of his wife.
During litigation, we retained renowned expert John G. Peters, Jr., Ph. D. from Henderson, Nevada. Dr. Peters is an expert in the field of police tactics, procedure, and training. He previously served as a training advisor to Amtrak, the El Paso County Sherriff’s Department, and the United States Secret Service, in addition to his own law enforcement career as a police officer and deputy sheriff.
Finally, attorney Richard Maurer, of Counsel to our firm, provided valuable insight and critical work on this case. His extensive experience in the federal court system combined with his oral and written advocacy continue to produce strong results. The municipality retained 3 law firms to defend this civil action. In addition, the state assigned 2 special out of county prosecutors to the criminal action. The civil and criminal cases produced thousands of pages investigative reports, memorandums, research, in addition to hundreds hours in depositions, oral arguments, and conferences.
While we and our client are pleased with the settlement, we understand that incidents such as this continue to occur. Police deserve our respect for their hard work but like any other profession, misconduct does occur! We, however, recognize the sacrifice that police officers make and our firm is making a financial contribution to The Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, Inc. from our fees in this case.
These cases are extremely complicated. If you or a family member believe that you are a victim, it’s important to speak to the right lawyers. Injuries don’t necessary mean liability and the right lawyer will make all the difference in a case. Despite this strong 1st quarter our firm is focused on exceeding these results next quarter. Nothing fails like resting on your previous successes and we refuse to accept professional mediocrity or complacency.