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Former Michigan Prisoner Awarded $1.27 Million for False Arrest and Malicious Prosecution

A Michigan federal jury awarded a former prisoner $1.27 million in a malicious prosecution lawsuit. After she was robbed at gunpoint, Tevya Urquhart was arrested, found guilty and sentenced to prison. After her successful appeal, Urquhart filed suit against the city of Detroit, as well as the officers involved in their individual capacities.

In March 2002, Urquhart and two co-employees were robbed by two gunmen while opening a Sprint PCS store in Detroit. The gunmen told Urquhart to open the safe and ordered her co-employees to lie face down on the floor. The gunmen left the scene with a bag of money and Urquhart called the police. Upon investigation, Sergeants Derrick Anderson and Carolyn Nichols requested and received a warrant to arrest Urquhart. The warrant request was based on distorted and misrepresented facts. Urquhart was arrested, prosecuted, and found guilty of larceny by conversion over $20,000 and filing a false police report of a felony. Urquhart was then sentenced and sent to Scott Women’s Correctional Facility. In December 2002, Urquhart was resentenced to three years probation with the first five months served in jail.

In May 2004, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed Urquhart’s case and ordered her discharged. In the opinion, the court noted “there was simply not evidence beyond speculation that Plaintiff either committed larceny by conversion or filed a false report.”

In August 2004, Urquhart’s conviction and sentence were vacated with prejudice by Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Daniel P. Ryan.

Attorney Thomas M. Loeb, filing on behalf of Urquhart, claimed her civil rights were violated; namely, her rights to be free from unreasonable seizure of her person, to due process of law, and to a fair trial.

The jury’s February 25, 2008 verdict found that both Anderson and Nichols violated Urquhart’s constitutional right to be free from malicious prosecution. Furthermore, Anderson was liable for violating Urquhart’s constitutional right to due process of law. The jury awarded Urquhart $1,020,000 in compensatory damages. Punitive damages totaled $250,000 with Anderson liable for $150,000 and Nichols for $100,000. All told, Urquhart was awarded $1,270,000. Source: Urquhart v. Anderson, U.S. DC, E.D. Michigan, Case No. 05-73725.

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Related legal case

Urquhart v. Anderson