Posted by admin | Posted in Personal Injury News
By Bob Negele
A federal jury found in favor of a Chicago man when they found that two police officers wrongfully arrested him while he was inflating his tires with air. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Pares Ratliff, then 23, was arrested when filling his tires. The jury decided to award him $50,000 in damages, and an additional 75 cents for the money he put in to the air pump, but didn’t get a chance to use.
In 2009, Ratliff was driving to the store at night to buy diapers for his son when he decided to fill up his tires at a gas station. While attempting to inflate his tires, two Chicago police officers approached Ratliff claiming to have a warrant for his arrest. Ratliff allegedly claimed that it was impossible, then the police accused him of threatening them with the air hose, and arrested him on the spot.
The police report claimed that Ratliff gripped the air hose and said, “If you don’t let me finish filling my tire with air, I’m going to kill you.” Which is a very different account that Ratliff gave. He claimed that he was confused and said, jokingly, that he would go with them if they refunded the 75 cents he just put in the machine.
In the end, Ratliff was charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, but neither officer showed up to the first court date- which resulted in the charges being dropped.
Ratliff, a manager at a Jewel-Osco, then filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the officers lied about their interactions with Ratliff.
The trial lasted for four days, and the jury only had to deliberate for an hour. After the trial, Ratliff was awarded “$30,000 in compensatory damages against the city and an additional $20,000 in punitive damages against the two officers. They tacked the 75 cents onto the punitive damages, according to court records.”
Compensatory damages are intended to repay the plaintiff for damages incurred from the incident. In this case, the jury decided that in order to put Ratliff in the position he would have been in without the misconduct by the police, he should be compensated with $30,000. The punitive damages are a tool for punishing the wrongdoer.
This means that the jury found that Ratliff needed $30,000 to be made whole, and that the city should be punished to the tune of an additional $20,000 (plus 75 cents).
Just to add to the city’s tab for this incident, the city will have to pay his legal bills, in addition to the aforementioned damages. The legal bill for this? Nearly $300,000.
Not unexpectedly, no spokesman for the city’s Law Department was available for comment.