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Excessive Force - Wrongful Death

July 10, 2013

Terry Sides successfully defended a South Alabama city and its chief of police in a federal civil rights case of excessive force and wrongful death. The plaintiffs claimed that while engaged in the pursuit of a speeding car, a patrol car being driven by a police officer for the city struck the speeding car from behind and caused it to go airborne, following which the car flipped over and landed in a ditch. The plaintiffs’ son, who they claimed was a passenger in the car, was killed in the accident. The plaintiffs’ theory was (a) the police officer’s action constituted excessive force, which was the result of the chief of police having acted with deliberate indifference in hiring, training, and supervising the officer, and (b) such action by the chief of police represented a custom, policy or practice of the city, which, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §1983, led to the deprivation of their son’s constitutional rights The plaintiffs sought a judgment against the city and its chief of police for $25,000,000. Following the filing of extensive motions and briefs, the federal court dismissed the lawsuit against the city and police chief, concluding that the plaintiffs’ claims against them failed to plausibly establish any constitutional violation.

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