Editor’s Choice: Jury Awards Edition
- Man shot at an Elks Lodge wins $12 million
A Kentucky jury awarded $12 million to a man who was shot in the neck at an Elks Lodge.
In 2006, Samuel George was a 26 year-old fan of rapper Pastor Troy, also known as Micah Levar Troy. George traveled with a group of friends from his home in Alabama to Kentucky in order to see the rapper perform live at an Elks Lodge.
After the concert wound up, around 3 a.m., shooting broke out outside the Lodge involving at least one gunman, three weapons and 20 bullets. George was found by police on the ground, shot in the neck. Three others, including shooter Gary McClain Jr. were also taken to the hospital for injuries.
George sued the shooter, the rapper and the Elks Lodge.
None of the accused responded to the lawsuit or showed up at trial, leading to a default judgment ruling that they were at fault. The jury’s only job was to decide how much money to award George.
By the time of trial, McClain had been convicted of assault in the incident and had served two years in prison.
At trial, George’s attorney, Raymond S. Bogucki, presented evidence of George’s injuries and lost income. An orthopedic expert testified about George’s medical condition and George’s mother, Gladys, also testified in the one-day trial.
The jury awarded George a total of $12 million, including $9 million in medical services and future harm from his injuries, $1 million for physical and mental pain and suffering, $1 million for medical costs and $1 million for lost past and future wages.
A gun store owner who was arrested in 2008 for operating an illegal gun range won a federal jury verdict of $5 million against a Long Island county for loss of business revenue.
In 2007, Martin Tretola and his business T&T Gunnery was arrested by Nassau county police, who accused him of running an illegal makeshift gun range inside his store near an active gas line. The charges were later dropped, but Tretola claimed the arrest put him out of business until his licenses were reinstated a year later, and cost him $1 million in lost handgun sales.
Tretola’s lawsuit against the county claimed his arrest was orchestrated as a vendetta by officer Erik Faltings in the licensing department. According to Tretola, the officer had asked him to hand over some weapons to the officer’s personal friend, but Tretola refused because he didn’t think it was legal.
Police raided Tretola’s business and arrested him for reckless endangerment in having a gun range in his store, an overdue fire inspection and for not keeping records of second-hand gun sales, according to Steven J. Harfenist, Tretola’s lawyer.
Harfenist said the police officer had a grudge against his client.
“[The police officer] was trying to do somebody a favor and Marty didn’t go along with it. He came down with the dogs of war,” Harfenist said of Officer Faltings.
In the federal trial, Harfenist argued that his client’s arrest was not justified because he had a trap box — a safety device that discharges bullets from guns for test purposes.
“There was no reason to arrest him. He didn’t have any firing range,” Harfenist said.
After the jury awarded Tretola $3 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages, Tretola said although he was happy with the verdict, “it doesn’t seem like a lot after what they did to us.”
He added that he expects to win another civil lawsuit he has filed against the county for a 2011 arrest of his son Thomas in an undercover sting against his business.
A Cape Girardeau, Mo., jury awarded $1 million to the children of a 23-year-old father who was shot dead by police.
In 2008, a caller from an apartment complex phoned the “fugitive unit” of the Missouri Department of Corrections to inform them that Zachary Snyder was wanted for a parole violation.
An investigator, Steve Julian, went to the apartment complex looking for Snyder in the parking lot and pulled his gun out as he approached Snyder. According to witnesses, Snyder did not resist at first but then turned and ran away. The investigator admitted he shot Snyder in the back even though at the time he told officers, “I thought he had either pulled something out of where his pants were or his shirt. I thought he was going to actually attack me.”
Julian was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in Snyder’s killing.
In a civil suit for damages, the family’s attorney, Daniel T. Moore, argued the corrections officer violated the rules of safety and did not need to use force to arrest Snyder.
After deliberating for 5 hours, a jury awarded Snyder’s children $1 million for wrongful death, excessive force and civil rights violations in their father’s death.
A family who won a $3.6 million jury award against their city for canceling plans for a new Walmart store will not collect the award yet. An appeals court overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial.
In 2005, Ronald E. Loesel tried to bring a Walmart to his Michigan town and had inked an agreement to sell his 37-acre family property to the retail giant for $4 million. When the city council re-zoned the land, Walmart withdrew its planned store, and Loesel sued the city.
A federal jury ordered the city of Frankenmuth, Mich., to pay Loesel, his brother and brother-in-law $3.5 million for discriminating against them by passing an ordinance that limited buildings in the area to no larger than 65,000 square feet — too small for the oversized Walmart, which quickly withdrew its deal.
Loesel’s attorney, Andrew Kochanowski, said he will have no trouble trying the
case again and convincing a second jury that the city had no rational basis for its decision because it approved a mall and a Christmas Wonderland store.
“The facts haven’t gotten any better for the city,” Kochanowski said. “The evidence we unearthed…pointed to a systematic desire to change the rules to push out Walmart…I expect the exact same verdict [in a second trial].”