Prepared for attorneys faced with evaluating the damage potential in police misconduct cases, this report lists recoveries for wrongful death by police misconduct in 29 cases and recoveries in 38 cases involving injury from excessive use of police force.
Information sources included personal consultations with attorneys and legal assistants across the United States and a variety of litigation reports, with most awards and settlements occurring in 1979-82. Reported awards in the 29 cases of wrongful death by police misconduct range from a high of $5.75 million to a low of $50,000. The average recovery was in excess of $650,000. Awards involving nonfatal injuries range from a high of over $7 million to a low of $30,000 with the average recovery being in excess of $656,000. While every police misconduct case is unique, these cases show a high range of recoveries and could be used to convince an opposing counsel or judge that a high claim is within the range of previously awarded damages. Moreover, review of the cited facts in these cases demonstrates that plaintiffs able to show only low amounts of special damages were nevertheless awarded substantial recoveries. Courts are often sufficiently sophisticated to appreciate the effects of mental pain and suffering and recognize that the deprivation of constitutional rights per se is compensable. Each case citation includes place, date, amount of jury or settlement award, and a brief summary of the case's facts.
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