Civil Rights Case Summaries
CASE NO.: 05-61477-CIV-COOKE/BROWN
Southern District of Florida
A Mexican migrant worker who had been in the country less than a day was mistaken for a burglar by a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy. The Deputy who had an extensive history of internal affairs violations, approached our client with his gun drawn, and as our client turned to flee, the Deputy shot him in the back of the head. Miraculously, our client survived the shooting, but required more than a month of hospitalization and then full time care in a rehabilitation center. The firm was able to immediately negotiate the payment of our client’s medical bills while the civil rights case was pending.
Immediately after the shooting, the firm’s lawyers quickly began an extensive investigation of both the shooting itself and the background of the deputy involved. The firm quickly uncovered the extensive and troubling background of the officer at issue, including the fact that he had been fired from his previous job in law enforcement in another state. The firm’s lawyers compiled evidence of more than twenty two separate internal affairs complaints, which the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s background investigation had completely missed.
The firm filed a fifteen million dollar, multiple count civil rights complaint on behalf of our client and successfully litigated the case until a few days before the trial. The case was settled on the eve of trial.
Miami Dade County Circuit Court
Our client was originally charged with Trafficking in Heroin in state court, a charge that carries a mandatory twenty-five year prison sentence. Through its own investigation, the firm’s lawyers discovered that the crime scene was described inaccurately by the police and that it was impossible for the officer to have seen the client commit any crime. The criminal case was dismissed and the firm filed a civil rights claim in State court. As a result of the firm’s work, the police officer in question was investigated by the police department and chose to resign. The civil rights case was settled prior to trial.
CASE NO.: 08-20065-CIV-ALTONAGA/BROWN
Southern District of Florida
A forty two year old inmate walked in to the Miami Dade County jail system suffering only from non-insulin dependent diabetes and high blood pressure; thirteen months later, our client was carried out of jail on a stretcher, having lapsed into a coma. Upon arrival at the hospital, it was determined that our client was more than 90% brain dead. The firm’s representation began with the simple task of helping the family navigate the system to ensure that our client’s family was able to spend as much time with their loved one before making the difficult decision to remove life support.
The firm began extensive research into the provision of medical care in the Miami Dade County jail system and uncovered more than forty separate incidents of questionable medical care. The firm brought a civil rights lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the medical care in the entire jail system, viewing this case as an example of a systemic problem rather than mistakes of individual employees. The firm’s lawyers successfully argued a motion preventing the case from being dismissed on legal grounds. Miami Dade County and the Public Health Trust settled the matter and the firm obtained one of the largest settlements in Miami Dade County history for the family of the deceased inmate.