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Georgia Verdicts

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Man alleged officer punched him for no reason during arrest

Amount:

$500,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Georgia

Venue:

Federal

Court:

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division

Injury Type(s):

eye; other-fracture; other-orbital socket; other-fracture, left maxillary sinus; mental/psychological-emotional distress; mental/psychological-post-traumatic stress disorder

Case Type:

Intentional Torts - Malice, Assault, Battery; Government - Excessive Force, False Imprisonment; Civil Rights - Police as Defendant; Intentional Torts - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Case Name:

Sam Hardy v. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Cedrix Burks, Marcus Harden, and Officer Aldric Gillett, No. 1:15-cv-03682-LMM

Date:

December 9, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Sam Hardy (Male, 26 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Joshua G. Schiffer; ChancoSchiffer P.C.; Atlanta, GA, for Sam Hardy ■ Thomas G. Tidwell; The Tidwell Law Firm, LLC; Atlanta, GA, for Sam Hardy

Defendant(s):

Cedrix Burks, 

Marcus Harden, 

Officer Aldric Gillett, 

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

Defense Attorney(s):

Jeffrey E. Tompkins; Thomas Kennedy Sampson & Tompkins, LLP; Atlanta, GA, for Cedrix Burks, Marcus Harden, Officer Aldric Gillett, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority ■ Thomas G. Sampson; Thomas Kennedy Sampson & Tompkins, LLP; Atlanta, GA, for Cedrix Burks, Marcus Harden, Officer Aldric Gillett, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

Facts:

On Sep. 15, 2013, plaintiff Sam Hardy, 26, a short order cook, was sitting on a bench at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's Arts Center Station in Atlanta, sipping lemonade and waiting for a train. As he was sitting there, a MARTA police officer, Aldric Gillett, ordered Hardy to put a lid on his drink. Hardy complied, but then took the lid off after Officer Gillett left. The officer returned minutes later, saw the lid had been removed and an altercation ensued. Hardy was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of a police officer. The charges were later dismissed as part of a pretrial diversion program. Hardy claimed facial injuries as a result of the altercation. Hardy sued Gillett, MARTA and MARTA police officers Cedrix Burks and Marcus Harden, alleging his civil rights were violated by Gillett's use of excessive force. Hardy also asserted Georgia state law claims for assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Prior to trial, Burks and Harden were dismissed. The case proceeded against Gillett and MARTA only. Hardy claimed he was punched in the face during the altercation. His counsel entered security video into evidence showing Hardy attempting to board a train and Gillett then striking Hardy in his face. Hardy claimed he did nothing to provoke or warrant being punched by Gillett. The defense argued that Hardy was cursing at Officer Gillett after he returned and observed the lid on the drink had been removed. The defense contended that Hardy was in a "fighting stance" and Gillett simply tried to push Hardy in the shoulder to create space in order to effect an arrest, but Gillett's hand slipped and made contact with Hardy's face.

Injury:

Hardy was taken to a hospital after his arrest. He claimed a blow-out fracture to his left inferior orbital floor, as well as fractures to the anterior left maxillary sinus that had to be surgically repaired. Hardy spent five days in hospital. In addition to the physical injuries, Hardy claimed he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the incident. He claimed he continues to be disturbed by the incident, particularly when around police. Hardy claimed $48,000 in medical expenses and $1,700 in lost wages, plus damages for emotional distress. Hardy further sought punitive damages and attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1988 and Georgia code 13-6-11. The defense did not actively dispute the issue of Hardy's injuries and focused on liability.

Result:

The jury found that Gillett did not violate Sam Hardy's right to be free from excessive force, did not commit an assault, did not falsely imprison Hardy and did not intentionally inflict emotional distress on Hardy. However, the jury found that Gillett did committ battery on Hardy and acted with actual malice. The jury determined that Hardy's compensatory damages totaled $250,000 and also awarded $250,000 in attorneys' fees, for a total award of $500,000.

Sam Hardy:

$250,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages; $250,000 Personal Injury: attorneys' fees

Trial Information:

Judge:

Leigh Martin May

Demand:

$405,000

Offer:

$140,000

Trial Length:

3  days

Trial Deliberations:

6  hours

Jury Composition:

3 male/ 5 female

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff's counsel. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.