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Topic: More excessive force and civil rights violations-Sheriff
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Taxpayers could have to pick up tab on $36.6M jail excessive force lawsuit


See video from $36.6M Genesee County Jail excessive force lawsuit
Print Email Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com By Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com

on November 07, 2016 at 2:38 PM, updated November 07, 2016 at 3:05 PM
FLINT, MI Taxpayers could be on the hook for picking up a part of the tab if a $36.6 million verdict stands in an excessive force lawsuit against five Genesee County Sheriff's deputies.

Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said Monday, Nov. 7, the county's insurance policy will only pay up to $20 million of the verdict.

The county would be forced to find the rest of the money plus court costs by cutting the budget or levying a special tax assessment to county residents to make up the difference, Curtis said.

He said it would be similar to when Flint residents had to pay nearly $9 million to cover litigation over the Genesee Towers. Through a special assessment, Flint residents had an extra 6.751 mills on their winter tax bills in 2010 to pay for the building.

William Jennings sued Genesee County Jail deputies Patrick Fuller, David Kenamer, Mark Wing, Jason White and Lt. Robert Nuckolls claiming excessive use of force during an incident at the Genesee County Jail following his arrest on Sept. 18, 2010. Jennings also claimed unreasonable seizure and excessive use of force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

"The county doesn't have enough to cover it," Curtis told MLive-The Flint Journal. "The insurance only has enough to cover $20 million."

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell could not be reached for comment.

Curtis said based on conversations with the judge, county controller and risk assessor, he thinks the lawsuit could have been settled before the verdict.

"What people will try to argue to protect their butts is that an offer never was made," Curtis said. "If you would have brought that to the board, I think the judge could've settled it."

Curtis said he doesn't know if a formal appeal has been filed, but experts one will be.

The lawsuit was filed against the deputies and didn't directly name the county or the jail as defendents, but the county will still be on the hook to cover the verdict against its deputies.

The deputies were most likely indemnified by Genesee County because the incident occurred while they were working as jail guards, according to Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

If Genesee County doesn't have the money in the budget, it would have to find another way to pay, Miller said.

"The county would have to fund and find a way," to pay, Miller said. "The courts would enforce that."

However, despite the jury's verdict, it isn't guaranteed the county will be required to pay the full $36.6 million decision. Miller said the courts will continue to look at the jury's award.

"The trial court first and then the appellate court will examine the verdict to see if the award is excessive, and they will compare to what the proofs show were the actual damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses," Miller said. "In these cases, the hard part of this is the non-economic damages -- the mental and emotional damages. The courts generaly leave some pretty wide room for juries to value non-economic damages."

Both sides could also reach a settlement before the courts reach a final amount.

"An appeal would be possible and it could certainly lead to a negotiated deal. Appellate courts do encourage the parties to continue settlement discussions," Miller said. "Typically, a trial result is another data point for the parties. In a sense, the negotiations should go on because there is always some risk of a reversal of the decision and then you're back to square one. It is common that parties will continue to negotiate after a trial verdict."

A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., Nov. 15 before Judge Avern Cohn to discuss any post-trial matters in Detroit U.S. District Court.

The verdict came after a more than a two-week trial and nearly two days of deliberations that the defendants used excessive force against Jennings and awarded him past damages of $10.42 million and future damages of $7.21 million, according to the release.

The jury also awarded punitive damages to Jennings from each defendant as follows:

Fuller -- $5 million.
Kenamer -- $4 million.
Wing -- $3 million.
White -- $2 million.
Nuckolls -- $5 million.
Curtis said he doesn't understand why legal action was taken against the deputies.

"Why didn't these four people get prosecuted? They beat the hell out of somebody. What's going on," Curtis asked. "You think this is the only lawsuit out there in the hopper? It's not. There's a lot of open litigation still out there. Is it fair to the taxpayers? No. I can tell you that this taxpayer is not happy about it."

This isn't the first excessive force lawsuit the county jail has seen. In September 2014 the county agreed to pay $630,000 to Fernando Davis after he said he was beaten and pepper sprayed after being lodged at the Genesee County Jail for suspicion of drunk driving.
Post Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:48 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Genesee County pays $125,000 to settle jail excessive force case


See video of Genesee County Jail incident that leads to $125,000 settlement
Print Email Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com By Dominic Adams | dadams5@mlive.com
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on November 11, 2016 at 10:18 AM, updated November 11, 2016 at 10:40 AM
FLINT, MI Genesee County has agreed to pay $125,000 to a man who alleged an unprovoked attack by jail deputies caused him to lose a molar and left him with a bloody gash on his head.

Joseph Rowlery Jr., 46, reached an agreement Oct. 17 with the county to settle a federal lawsuit accusing Genesee County Jail deputies of excessive force following a 2010 incident inside the jail.

The settlement was released Thursday, Nov. 10, to MLive-The Flint Journal through the Freedom of Information Act.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell and Rowlery's attorney Shawn Cabot could not be reached for comment. The settlement contained a confidentiality agreement.

Rowlery was in the jail on a warrant for failure to pay child support, according to court records.

U.S. District Judge Judith Levy reviewed jail surveillance video submitted as evidence in the case and claimed it showed Rowlery standing by a jail cell for about two minutes before deputy Robert Winston and another deputy approached him.

Rowelry claimed he was responding to a question from another inmate while picking up his jacket in preparation of being released from custody.

Winston allegedly asked Rowlery what he was doing and Rowlery replied that he was being released, according to court records. Rowlery said that Winston responded, "No you're not. Give me your coat, you're going back in your cell."

Winston claimed Rowlery was ordered to sit on a bench while waiting to be fingerprinted prior to his release, but instead he walked down a hallway and "harassed a female detainee in a cell 'by talking to her,'" according to court records.

That's when he was approached by deputies.

The judge described the video as showing Rowlery talking with the two deputies while a third walks down the hall toward him, according to court documents.

The video does not contain audio.

Rowlery then removes his coat and places it on the floor. At this point, there are five officers standing in the hallway, according to court records.

Rowlery claimed Winston ordered him to lie down on the floor and put his hands behind his back. Rowlery maintained he was fully compliant with this order, according to court documents. Winston told the court Rowlery was not compliant with any of his instructions, but acknowledged that he removed his shoes and jacket voluntarily.

Levy described the video as showing Rowlery turn to face the wall followed by Winston lunging at him, pushing him against the wall. Winston claims he felt Rowlery tense up and push back when Winston tried to guide Rowlery into the cell, according to court documents.

In order to get him to the ground, Winston testified he "delivered a strike to [plaintiff's] left common peroneal," which is a nerve in the back of the leg. This is a strike officers are trained to use to restrain someone who is resisting their commands, according to court records.

The video shows Rowlery was forced to the floor and landed on his face, according to the judge.

Three of the other deputies then restrained Rowlery at his head and feet while Winston appears to kneel on top of Rowlery's back, according to court records.

Rowlery also alleged that while lying handcuffed face-down on the floor, Winston beat on the back of his head while kneeing him in the back, causing his head to "split open on the hard concrete floor."

However, the deputies claim that Rowlery was resisting while on the floor by tightening his arms to make restraining him more difficult. While Rowlery was being restrained on the floor, a sixth officer walked down the hallway toward the melee.

A group of deputies then lifted Rowlery up so he was sitting in the middle of the hallway. The end of the video showed Rowlery sitting handcuffed with his pants around his ankles and blood on the left side of his face and above his right eye.

Rowlery also alleged one of his teeth was knocked out from the strikes to his head. He had to be hospitalized because he had a large cut on the back of his head and lost a tooth during the altercation, according to court records.

The settlement agreement drops the lawsuit against the county and eight deputies.

It was the second time in less than a month the county had to pay because of allegations of excessive force inside the jail.

A federal jury ordered Genesee County on Nov. 3 to pay $36.6 million in another excessive force lawsuit against five Genesee County Sheriff's deputies.

William Jennings sued multiple Genesee County Jail deputies claiming excessive use of force during an incident at the Genesee County Jail following his arrest on Sept. 18, 2010.

Taxpayers could be on the hook for picking up a part of the tab if a $36.6 million verdict stands as the county's insurance policy will only cover up to $20 million.

The county's insurance policy will cover the Rowlery settlement.
Post Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:36 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

The jury also awarded punitive damages to Jennings from each defendant as follows:

Fuller -- $5 million.
Kenamer -- $4 million.
Wing -- $3 million.
White -- $2 million.
Nuckolls -- $5 million.
Curtis said he doesn't understand why legal action was taken against the deputies.

"Why didn't these four people get prosecuted? They beat the hell out of somebody. What's going on," Curtis asked. "You think this is the only lawsuit out there in the hopper? It's not. There's a lot of open litigation still out there. Is it fair to the taxpayers? No. I can tell you that this taxpayer is not happy about it."

This isn't the first excessive force lawsuit the county jail has seen. In September 2014 the county agreed to pay $630,000 to Fernando Davis after he said he was beaten and pepper sprayed after being lodged at the Genesee County Jail for suspicion of drunk driving.
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Flint Talk asked this same question. Why was Parks being prosecuted when the alleged victim did not even file a complaint? Political pyback for a whistleblower case?

At least one more large judgement will come in (Jamil Muhammad) and two horrible videos of beatings. This is a jail out of control and the FBI needs to come in and at least help get consent order to stop the violence in thejail.
Post Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:43 pm 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

Other cases coming up for settlement:

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
AUGUST 17, 2016
IX. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
X. NEW AND MISCELLANEOUS BUSINESS
XI. OTHER BUSINESS
Closed Session
1) to discuss trial or settlement strategy in the pending litigation
matter of Jabril Muhammad v. named deputies, case no. 14-12277,
2) to discuss written legal opinion of counsel related to case no. 16-3-086,
3) to discuss trial or settlement strategy in the pending litigation matter of
Garant v. Galajda, seventh Circuit Court No. 15-105023


NOTE: The County commissioners are no longer posting minutes, only agendas and resolutions. Is this a violation? Residents deserve to know what their county government is doing and what events are going to impact residents financially and otherwise. Also word is the "lame duck" commissioners are striking out at those whom they disapprove and are implementing unfair and sometimes unwise personnel decisions.
Post Fri Nov 25, 2016 9:31 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

MLive

New trial requested in $36.6M excessive force case against jail deputies
See video from $36.6M Genesee County Jail excessive force lawsuit
ona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com By Oona Goodin-Smith | ogoodins@mlive.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on December 15, 2016 at 5:30 PM

GENESEEE COUNTY -- Genesee County jail guards who jurors found liable for $36.6 million in damages for using excessive force against an inmate are asking a federal judge for a new trial.

In multiple motions filed last week with the Detroit U.S. District Court -- where the case was tried in November -- attorneys representing the five guards say the two-week jury trial was conducted improperly, and that the $36.6 million decision -- which could, in part be funded by Genesee County taxpayers -- was improper.

Jury awards $36.6M in excessive force case involving jail guards

Jury awards $36.6M in excessive force case involving jail guards

A jury has returned a verdict that will award a man $36.6 million in a verdict against five current or former Genesee County Sheriff's deputies.

"We think the verdict is grossly excessive," the deputies' attorney, William Reising said following the verdict awarded to William Jennings, the ex-Genesee County inmate who claimed deputies used excessive force against him during an incident at the Genesee County Jail following his arrest on Sept. 18, 2010.

Jurors reached the verdict against deputies Patrick Fuller, David Kenamer, Mark Wing, Jason White and Lt. Robert Nuckolls.


Reising could not be reached for comment on the new filings.

Jennings' attorney, Kevin Ernst, however, says he's "very confident" in his case and the court's decision.

"I've read what they have to say and I don't see any merit in any of their arguments," Ernst said. "Any error that would get them a new trial would be so remote. I'm confident that we'll keep our verdict."

The motions, in part, claim the judge improperly admitted evidence regarding the county's policy's and procedures, excluded testimony that could have helped the deputies and allowed testimony from a videographer on what was depicted in the jail surveillance video.

Attorneys question in the motions whether the jurors' award was improperly based on passion, prejudice or bias.

The filings also ask U.S. District Judge Avern Cohen to overrule the jury's decision and issue his own verdict if he decides against a new trial.

The lawsuit alleged the jail officers threw Jennings to the floor, slammed his head against a metal bench, kicked and punched him while he was on the ground, sprayed pepper spray into his mouth and face at close range and placed him in a restraint chair with a hood over his face for several minutes.

See jail video that helped get man $36.6M in excessive force lawsuit

See jail video that helped get man $36.6M in excessive force lawsuit

A video released in an excessive force lawsuit shows the actions taken by Genesee County Jail guards that led to a man receiving a $36.6 million verdict.

Jennings was also strapped down to a restraint bed face down in a cell for more than two hours. The lawsuit states the alleged attack was unprovoked and began as Jennings was being searched.

After more than a two-week trial and nearly two days of deliberations, the eight-member jury concluded that the defendants used excessive force against Jennings and awarded him past damages of $10.42 million and future damages of $7.21 million, according to a news release from the court.

The jury also awarded punitive damages to Jennings from each defendant as follows:

Fuller -- $5 million.
Kenamer -- $4 million.
Wing -- $3 million.
White -- $2 million.
Nuckolls -- $5 million.

Because the county's insurance policy only covers $20 million of the verdict, taxpayers may be left to pick up the rest of the bill, Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said on Nov. 7.

The county would be forced to find the rest of the money -- plus court costs -- by cutting the budget or levying a special tax assessment to county residents to make up the difference, Curtis said.

Taxpayers could have to pick up tab on $36.6M jail excessive force lawsuit

Taxpayers could have to pick up tab on $36.6M jail excessive force lawsuit

Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis said the insurance policy that the county has will only pay up to $20 million.

The lawsuit was filed against the deputies and didn't directly name the county or the jail as defendants, but the county will still be on the hook to cover the verdict against its deputies -- most likely because the incident occurred while they were working as jail guards, Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, said previously.

MLive-The Flint Journal reporter Dominic Adams contributed to this story.
Post Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:36 am 
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untanglingwebs
El Supremo

FLINT NEWS
County pays $520,000 to settle excessive force, false imprisonment lawsuit

Posted on October 26, 2017 at 3:12 PM

By Dominic Adams dadams5@mlive.com
FLINT, MI - Genesee County has agreed to pay $520,000 to settle a lawsuit over a woman's claim she was illegally arrested, searched and beaten by Genesee County Sheriff's deputies after she came to pick up a friend from the county jail in 2011.

Kimberly Wheeler alleged in her lawsuit she went to the Genesee County Jail on March 8, 2011, to pick up a friend who needed a ride home, according to her federal lawsuit filed against the Genesee County Sheriff's Office and six deputies in 2013 in Detroit U.S. District Court.

MLive-The Flint Journal obtained details of the settlement through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Genesee County Undersheriff Chris Swanson says the settlement was reached because the county was advised to do so by its insurance company.

The county does not admit any fault in the settlement.

When arriving at the jail March 8, 2011, Wheeler hit an occupied vehicle while trying to parallel park, according to her lawyer Joseph Corriveau.

Wheeler and the woman in the vehicle that she hit began arguing, Corriveau said. Wheeler eventually went into the jail to pick up her friend and provide information to sheriff's deputies for a crash report.

While Deputy Michael Cherry took a crash report from Wheeler, Lt. Michael Tocarchick told Wheeler she would not be allowed to drive her vehicle from the jail because Tocarchick thought Wheeler was under the influence of narcotics.


Tocarchick then seized Wheeler's purse and a search revealed pill containers with medicine that Wheeler had valid prescriptions for, according to the lawsuit.

Court records show Wheeler allegedly told deputies she took a prescribed Vicodin at 7 a.m. and it was because of that admission and her disorderly demeanor that police detained her.

Wheeler said she never admitted to taking the drugs and was not disorderly.

However, Wheeler told Tocarchick she was tired from working the night shift and that she didn't drink alcohol, the lawsuit claims.

"There was no sobriety testing," Corriveau said.

Tocarchick then allegedly took Wheeler's keys and said she would have to call someone for a ride.

Wheeler objected because her medications were valid, she took the pills as prescribed and her ability to drive was not impaired.

"Because they took her keys and she would have had no way to get to work - she ratcheted it up," Corriveau said of his client.

Deputies then took Wheeler from the jail lobby to the squad room to call for a ride. Wheeler continued to complain about the situation, the lawsuit claims.

Sgt. Gerald Parks allegedly then told Wheeler she was under arrest for being a disorderly person, the lawsuit claims.


Parks allegedly pushed Wheeler, which caused her to fall and sustain injuries.

Wheeler's fingernail was ripped off and she had bruises on her wrists, elbows and knees, Corriveau said.

Lt. Michael Chatterson jumped in and tackled Wheeler to the ground to handcuff her while she was being searched by female deputies, the lawsuit claims.

Corriveau said Wheeler hit her head during the exchange.

"She's fearful of the police because of this situation," he said.

The county denied requests from Corriveau and MLive-The Flint Journal for surveillance video of the incident, claiming it did not exist.

Wheeler was eventually released from the Genesee County Jail 26 hours after she was originally detained, but was never formally charged or went before a judge, Corriveau said.

Swanson said the woman was arrested for hitting a vehicle, trying to leave the scene and then for being intoxicated.

"She was in custody, but all that they claimed in the complaint didn't happen," Swanson said. "When the case is taken out of your hands and put in the insurance company's hands, you lose control. We didn't settle because we knew what the plaintiff said in the case wasn't true."
Post Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:14 pm 
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