December 17, 2019

            Terry Sides won a wrongful death case on behalf of an Alabama city.  Plaintiff claimed that his decedent, while crossing a city street as a pedestrian, was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by a third party. Plaintiff claimed that the driver of the vehicle was speeding at the time of the accident, that such was the result of the city’s failure to have a posted speed limit sign in the area, and that the city was aware beforehand that the area was without the necessary speed limit sign.

            Summary judgment was sought and granted by the court in favor of the city on several grounds, including that plaintiff had failed to show the existence of the claimed street defect (i.e., the need for a speed limit sign at or near the location of the accident).  The evidence showed that speed limit and other traffic signs in the neighborhood which encompasses the street satisfies not only the “driving order” for traffic sign...

July 17, 2019

Terry A. Sides was a presenter at the Alabama Property & Casualty Adjusters’ Association (“APCAA”) summer seminar in Birmingham, speaking on the topics of insurable interests, titles to property, and protecting  lienholders in the claims adjusting process. The APCAA develops the workforce of existing property and casualty insurance claims adjusters by developing and offering quality continuing insurance and legal education in Alabama. 

February 28, 2019

Terry Sides successfully defended an Alabama city and several of its law enforcement officials in a federal court lawsuit which charged them with mishandling the investigation of an alleged murder.

In February 2017, the city received a 911 call from a witness who reported that the deceased had shot himself inside his own home. When first responders arrived at the scene, the deceased was found on the kitchen floor with a fatal gunshot wound to the back of his head.  The bullet had exited through the front of his head and through the roof of the home.  The deceased’s body was found positioned with his head underneath a chair and table in the kitchen, and the gun which was allegedly used in the death was found several feet above and away from the deceased’s body on the countertop of the kitchen island. The gun was in a de-cocked condition.  Following an autopsy, in which no gunshot residue was found on the deceased’s hands or clothing, the medical examiner ruled that the death was a suicid...

January 9, 2019

On behalf of an Alabama city, Terry Sides obtained summary judgment in a federal court lawsuit which claimed the city has a policy, custom and practice of permitting and encouraging the unconstitutional use of force by its police officers, which is reinforced by alleged failures by the city to (a) discipline its officers or prosecute known incidents of improper use of excessive force by them, (b) adequately investigate claims of excessive force, (c) supervise problem officers, and (d) provide training to problem officers.  

The case arose out of an incident in 2014 when the plaintiff was arrested by three of the city’s police officers for, among other things, the criminal offense of his refusal/failure to comply with the lawful orders of the officers.  During the arrest, a physical altercation took place between plaintiff and the officers, which resulted in plaintiff sustaining a broken jaw and injuries to his back and legs.

Under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and Alabama law, plaintiff sued th...

September 6, 2018

Terry A. Sides successfully defended several municipal police officers sued in federal court on claims they violated plaintiff’s civil rights against involuntary servitude and substantive due process, as guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution. 

One of the police officers made a traffic stop of plaintiff because his car had no license plate. When the officer asked for plaintiff’s driver’s license, plaintiff admitted he didn’t have one. Plaintiff’s front seat passenger likewise had no identification. Moments later the passenger jumped from plaintiff’s car and ran into a nearby neighborhood. Plaintiff told the officer (as well other officers who later arrived on the scene) that the passenger was a convicted felon who had warrants outstanding for his arrest. Plaintiff, who was a convicted felon as well, also told the officers that the passenger was carrying a gun. 

Plaintiff (who is African-American) claimed the officers (who are Caucasian) threatened to...

July 10, 2018

Terry Sides obtained summary judgment for an Alabama police officer in an excessive force lawsuit in federal court.

While on routine patrol in town, the officer encountered a vehicle believed by him to be stolen and in the possession of an individual (later identified as the plaintiff) who was not only considered to be armed and dangerous, but who also the subject of outstanding felony warrants for his arrest.  The officer initiated a pursuit (with emergency lights and siren activated) of the vehicle, and in response, the plaintiff sped away from the officer.

At high and dangerous rates of speed, plaintiff sped through streets of the town, including residential areas, and eventually traveled onto an interstate highway.  The officer, as well as others, witnessed plaintiff driving erratically and dangerously to other motorists. Witnesses observed plaintiff following too close to other vehicles, passing vehicles in the inside and outside “break-down” lanes, swerving, and cutting off the mov...

April 27, 2018

Tom Hale and Richard Whitaker successfully defended and obtained summary judgment of all claims against an Alabama city and its police officer/jailer on allegations of negligence that resulted in the death of a prisoner by suicide. Plaintiff’s decedent was arrested by another city that had a “sharing” arrangement with the defendant city to house the arresting city’s prisoners in its jail. Upon intake, while anti-anxiety pills were recovered from the prisoner, no other information or evidence was presented or appeared that the prisoner might be an “at risk” threat for suicide. After 24 hours of incarceration without incident and proper recurrent bed checks by the jailer per departmental policy, the prisoner quietly hung himself with a mesh laundry bag in the early morning hours and was discovered dead by the jailer upon the next scheduled prisoner check. Hale Sides was assisted by the testimony of an objective jail expert, Jeff Carter, of Kentucky.

September 12, 2017

Tom Hale was elected as a Board Director for Crime Stoppers, a 501© 3 charitable organization dedicated to paying rewards for anonymous tips from the public that lead to the arrest of a criminal suspect. Crime Stoppers has become an integral partner with all state and federal law enforcement agencies in Jefferson and surrounding counties, and has paid out tens of thousands of dollars for tips that have led to the apprehension of criminal suspects and the resolution of numerous outstanding criminal investigations.

August 31, 2017

Tom Hale successfully defended an Alabama city and one of its police officers in a lawsuit arising from the officer’s pursuit of a criminal suspect driving a stolen vehicle.

A BOLO was issued that the suspect was traveling toward the city. A short time later, the suspect was seen driving in the city at a high rate of speed and violating multiple other laws. The subject officer began pursuing the suspect, but the suspect refused to stop and, instead, increased his speed and the distance between himself and the officer. The suspect eventually rounded a curve on the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle and his passenger were seriously injured in the accident.

The driver and passenger of the other vehicle filed suit against the police officer and the city claiming that the officer should have terminated his pursuit of the suspect because the continued pursuit “pushed” the suspect to continue his reckless behavior causing the collis...

August 31, 2017

On behalf of an Alabama police officer, Terry Sides won a wrongful death case in federal court. Late one night, witnesses observed the plaintiff’s decedent with a “BB gun” or similar weapon firing shots into vehicles in the parking lot of an apartment complex where the decedent lived. When the police arrived, they repeatedly knocked on the front door of the decedent’s apartment and announced their presence, but the decedent (even though he was inside the apartment) ignored the officers. A short while later, as the officers were about to leave the scene after their unsuccessful efforts to talk to him, the decedent fled out the rear door of his apartment, ran to his car, armed himself with a box cutter knife, and began advancing on the officers in a threatening manner and with his knife pointed at them. The officers made repeated and loud verbal commands to the decedent that he stop and put down his knife, but he ignored the officers’ commands and kept coming at them, even as the officer...

December 21, 2016

Terry Sides successfully defended a Jefferson County city and its police chief in a wrongful death and civil rights case in federal court.

The plaintiff’s son encountered a driver’s license checkpoint being conducted by the city’s police officers. When one of the officers asked for identification, the son produced a questionable ID card that could not be confirmed through multiple law enforcement sources. The officer asked the son to get out of the car and performed a “pat down” search of him. The son was then detained (but not handcuffed) in the backseat of the officer’s patrol car while the officer continued to try to confirm his identity. A short while later, the son jumped out of the patrol car, assaulted the officer, and tried to take the officer’s gun from its holster. Unable to get the gun, the son fled into the nearby woods. The officer chased the son and caught him, at which time the son continued to fight the officer and again attempted to take away the officer’s gun. Fearing...

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