Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$250,500 Verdict for False Imprisonment at Florida Jail

A federal jury from the Middle District of Florida awarded $250,500 to a man who claimed he was falsely imprisoned by the misuse of a Florida law – the Marchman Act – that permits the civil detention of persons who are grossly incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

While Greg W. Stakey was walking home from a bar/restaurant in Naples after drinking two beers, a homeowner confronted an intruder nearby. The homeowner called 911 and numerous officers, including two deputies, arrived within minutes. Deputy Amy Stanford stopped Stakey, who was in the vicinity.

Deputy Stanford used Florida’s Marchman Act to take Stakey into custody, claiming he appeared intoxicated and was slurring his speech. No Breathalyzer test or field sobriety testing was performed. Stakey was taken to the Collier County Jail and released the next day; no charges were filed.

Stakey “testified that he was unnerved and shocked at being taken into custody. While in jail, [he] was housed with people he believed were intoxicated and schizophrenic. There was urine on the floor. One inmate ranted, raved and screamed all night long.” He described it as a living hell.

Stakey filed suit against the deputies and the Sheriff’s office, and established at trial that the Collier County Sheriff’s Department had abused the Marchman Act. It was discovered that 14 percent, or one out of seven persons, who entered the county jail were civilly detained under the Act. To establish that he had been improperly incarcerated, Stakey presented the testimony of two witnesses who saw him leave the bar/restaurant. They stated he appeared fine and was not intoxicated.

Naturally the defendants denied that testimony, asserting the burglary victim had positively identified Stakey (though he didn’t want to press charges), and that Stakey had appeared extremely intoxicated (despite the lack of any sobriety tests). The jury rejected the defendants’ argument and sent a clear message to the Sheriff and his employees.

The jury awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages against the Sheriff and Deputy Stanford, and imposed a $500 punitive damage award against Stanford alone. The jury found in favor of the other deputy. The verdict was announced on April 6, 2007; an appeal followed, and the case was settled while the appeal was pending. The court awarded a total of $114,853.57 in attorney’s fees and costs.

Stakey was represented by Fort Lauderdale attorney Hugh L. Koerner. See: Stakey v. Stanford, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Fla.), Case No. 2:05-cv-00598-MMH-DNF.

Additional source: Naples Daily News

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Stakey v. Stanford