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  • Being Sued

    A thread earlier was talking about TASERS and being sued for home and self defense. That got me thinking about LEO getting sued for doing what they needed to do out their working. Have any of you been sued? How many times? was being sued kind of hard getting used too?

  • #2
    Being Sued

    Originally posted by CragCrawler
    A thread earlier was talking about TASERS and being sued for home and self defense. That got me thinking about LEO getting sued for doing what they needed to do out their working. Have any of you been sued? How many times? was being sued kind of hard getting used too?
    Quite a few cops have been sued. I'm one of them. It happened twice in a thirty eight year career. I'm retired now, but still have my home, my car, and my family. Police Officers operate under the Doctrine of Good Faith Immunity. This is an outgrowth of Soverign(?) Immunity. which essentially says, "The King can do no wrong. The King cannot be sued". As a rule, the plaintiff in a suit against Officers goes for the deeper pockets, which is to say, those of the entity which employs the Officer. Many suits are settled out of court, which is basically a means of saying, "We'll give you X amount of dollars to simply go away. The entity, the agency admit no wrong doing, they simply settle the suit. I was threatened with numerous suits in the course of my career. I, and my employer were actually sued twice. Won one, technically lost one. Plaintiff was awarded "no damages".but the state paid his attorney's expenses. The state had offered him a substantial sum to simply "go away". He didn't. He got absolutely nothing. Sure, being sued is a possibility, but it's not something that will happen to an Officer every day.


    • #3
      When I went through basic we had instructor tell us "it's not if it's when you get sued in this business, just remember follow your SOP, act in good faith and you'll be fine". Anyone can sue these days, it doesn't necessarily mean their going to win.
      Sometimes, doing the right thing means p***ing off the bosses.

      "And shepherds we shall be, for thee my lord for thee."

      Originally posted by dontknowwhy
      I still think troopers and deputies who work in the middle of no where with essentially no back up are the 'men among men' of the LEO world.
      Originally posted by weinerdog2000
      as far as your social experiment, if we cant film you then you cant film us, we will arrest you for obstruction of our freedom.


      • #4
        It's not you, individually, who usually gets sued, unless you do something pretty way out there. Those suing know you have no money worth sueing for, and so they sue the folks you work for.

        I have been sued five times, but it was always in the line of duty and no money was personally collected from me. Once was a wreck. In only one case was money collected from my agency, and it was only $6000, and only then because the Cityi Manager forgot to answer the suit. The City felt it cheaper to pay the compromise than to contest the suit.

        You personally beat someone illegally, or fail to render aid, or do an illegal act, you can get sued individually. You can also get charged for a crime for these things. You can also get sued if you do these things legally, so the best advice I can give is to act in good faith. Acting in good faith generally grants you immunity from being a payee on the suit. Generally speaking, if you've committed no criminal act, you'll be named in the suit, but not really the target of it. They go for the deep pockets.

        The PD or SO will also be sued, but the difference is if you're wrong, and especially if you're illegal, you'll be fired and possibly prosecuted. If you've got a mansion or a yacht or something, then the lawyers might go after you presonally, but unless you're rich, we ain't worth suing.
        "Say hal-lo to my leetle frahnd!"


        • #5
          I've been sued twice in 13 years. Neither time was I held liable for anything. The first time, the county settled out of court with a "go-away" offer. I didn't even know about the suit until almost a month after it was settled. The second time the case was dismissed outright by the federal magistrate as a matter of qualified immunity. That however took almost two years of wrangling and depositions. It was a bit unnerving, but the attorney's kept assuring us that it was a nothing case.

          As Redders said, in law enforcement its not a matter of if you'll be sued, but a matter of when. An old sarge used to say, "You ain't arrived in this business 'till you've made a trip to the federal courthouse."
          Last edited by SRT936; 06-11-2007, 05:08 AM.


          • #6
            I have been sued 3 times. The insurance company for the City settled all three lawsuits. One for somewhere around 500,000. They paid out the other two as well. The big settlement involved the lockup(which I had no control over). The lockup had no bathroom and the women urinated on the floor. The union sued the department over the facilities(the entire station should have been condemned) and the attorney used our lawsuit against the city. Therefore...she made out big time. The same city paid out 1,000,000 before my lawsuits for handcuffing female prisoners to a stairwell. I guess they will never learn.


            • #7
              I have been sued once. When I first heard about it I was very stressed. As time went by before the trial I was ok. It went to trial and the guy lost big time. The last I heard was the guy is now sueing his attorney and the attorney is sueing the client.
              Sweet Justice!
              Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


              • #8
                A piece of advice for when it goes to trial: when the jury comes back and the judge says will the defendant please rise he is talking about YOU.
                I wasn't used to being referred to as the defendent. Weird feeling.
                Prov 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.


                • #9
                  In 17 plus years I have been sued 6 times. These were relatively easy and for the most part pain free experiences in the end. I have never been found at fault or liable, though in one suit, my county was ordered to pay damages to the plaintiff for it's part in the action, but no deputies were found at fault. Any of you who work for a big (5,000 plus officer/deputy) department know what I am talking about.

                  The worst experience is Federal Court. My partner and I spent an entire week sitting across from an indidvidual who tried to kill us, and we were being called the defendants in this action. We had done nothing wrong, the plaintiff in this action was found guilty in the criminal hearing (twice by the way) and we were being sued for Federal Civil Rights violations as well as assault under the color of authority, and attempted murder. In the end, the jury took all of 43 minutes to clear my partner and I of all charges and ordered the plaintiff and his attorney to pay court costs.

                  This action, while the plaintiff and his attorney were looking for deep pocket money from my county, could also have included jail itme had the jury found we were operating out of the scope of our authority or illegally. Kinda sobering.

                  Oh, I start another Federal Court case in August for a shooting which occured in 1998!
                  Carpe Noctem


                  • #10
                    I was sued 3 times. Once involving an off-duty SOFTBALL game. Championship game at a police tourney. An outside group starts a fight with us, and one of their homies ends up dead. OOPS. That settled out of court, but I did end up, with 5 other co-DEFENDANTS, in a Federal Court trial with Mr. Stephen Yagman . Like others have said, being the defendant is very unsettling. Even though the attornies kept telling us not to worry. Yeah, right. I forget what "verdict" you're hoping for; as I recall it isn't NOT GUILTY, but some other wording. Until you hear THAT from the jury, there's plenty of worry. The other "team's" agency paid out some dough in the softball game incident, but I don't think my agency ever paid out anything due to me.


                    • #11
                      Only once, for $30Million, in a "wrongful death". Took 5 years, but the judge dismissed it. (When the plaintif's lawyer protested and said "But your Honor, my client's husband died!", the Judge said two words I had never before heard in Federal Court:
                      ""So What?""
                      "He tried to kill the officer"

                      BTW, my report reflected exactly my agancy's use of force policy, word for word. (I used to teach UOF at the Academy.)
                      It was not fun, but I can look myself in the mirror and know I had only done what had to be done to protect innocent people.
                      "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                      John Stuart Mill


                      • #12
                        I'm not going to repeat all the excellent points provided by earlier posters, but I will say this: The possibility of civil action(s) being filed due to employment related performance of our duties is why we get the pay and benefits due. The training we receive limits our exposure to criminal and civil liability, but can never eliminate it. Acting in good faith, reasonably and using the training we've received has kept this officer safe in more than 30 years of law enforcement. I've been a subject of civil actions two or three times. None resulted in findings for the plaintiff or cost me a penny. Being the subject of a civil action is as much a part of this job as being a witness in criminal cases.
                        "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."


                        • #13
                          Sued once in 12 years, federal suit after a pursuit. plantiff was in DOC and decided to try to make some money...Judge threw the case out..
                          "I am... reminded of something Cardinal Wolsey once told me. That I should only ever tell the king what he ought to do, not what he could do; for if the lion knows his own strength, no man could control him". Sir Thomas More


                          • #14
                            Yeah, in 30 years it happened a few times. Only twice did it end up in court. First time, I was too new, young, and stoopid to appreciate what was happening to me.

                            Second time out, right after Rodney King and the L.A. '92 riots, I thought I was okay, but my co-defendants were really upset. We prevailed. And like I said, I thought I was okay. That was until they came back 12-0 in my favor...the entire jury believed in me. I began to cry. I guess I was affected more than I knew.

                            My two other partners had one, or two, votes against them, but in civil court it just takes nine on your side to have you walk away, unscathed.

                            I went on to suggest, then help create, an eight-hour "Civil Court Survival" training day for my department. Now all cops from my agency being sued have to attend this training, and they get to bring their spouse/sig-o's with them.

                            It talks about the process, the stress, financial planning, courtroom demeanor, etc. The best part was when a panel of survivors (winners, losers, fighters to a 'draw') of lawsuits spoke about their experiences. Many cops who had been sued prior to its creation, submitted critiques saying, "I wish this had been available in my first lawsuit!" That statement, repeated many times, meant we'd done a good thing. I was very proud to be a part of it.
                            "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

                            Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

                            Three things I know for sure: (1) No bad deed goes unrewarded, (2) No good deed goes unpunished, and (3) It is entirely possible to push the most devoted, loyal and caring person beyond the point where they no longer give a 5h!t.


                            • #15
                              I've been lucky, 4 out of the 5 suits i've been involved with so far (With me as defendant named in 4, and as "Officer Jon Doe #6" int eh 5th) never even went beyond the deposition phase the judge tossed every one as frivolous. The 5th one, it's just been a train wreck, there's NO merit to it, this idiot plaintiff keeps manageing to find attorneys she can convince to take this case, at last count she;s on her 5th lawyer, the rest have bailed when they realize its nonsense. even knowing you're 100% right, there's still that nagging doubt in the back of your mind, precisely because Juries are so unpredictable.


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