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Florida Jury Awards $225,000 in False Arrest/Malicious Prosecution Claim

A Florida jury has awarded $225,000 in a case against the City of Clearwater and an individual detective on a claim of false arrest, malicious prosecution, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Plaintiff claimed he was falsely arrested on child molestation charges and the prosecution was continued by the defendants in reckless disregard for his civil rights.

The Plaintiff was involved in a live-in relationship with a woman who had a two-year-old daughter. The woman threatened that if he ended the relationship she would go to the police and make a false accusation that he sexually molested her little girl. She did exactly that when Plaintiff ended the relationship. Plaintiff was arrested for committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child under 12 years of age.

After spending 166 days in jail, the plaintiffs fired his public defender, represented himself pro se, and it was acquitted of the charges or a jury. He then filed suit against the defendants and the woman, but dismissed her prior to trial.

Plaintiff testified at the civil trial that he had given the detective the names of at least four people, including his ex-lover's foster mother who was an employee of Child Protective Services at the time. He contended he had informed these witnesses of the threats the ex-lover had made, but the detective did not interview these witnesses. The detective also falsely reported the time of the alleged molestation occurred at 10:00 a.m., a time plaintiff was at home. The ex-lover, however, told another officer that the incident occurred at 4:30 p.m., a time plaintiff was at a job interview.
The jury found for plaintiff on January 19, 2005, awarding him $150,000 against the city for false arrest and $75,000 against the detective for malicious prosecution. A $100,000 statutory cap applies. See: Plaintiff v. City of Clearwater, Florida Pinellas Circuit Court, Case No. 99-008583.

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Related legal case

Plaintiff v. City of Clearwater