Florida U.S. District Court Denies Motion for New Trial in Fourth Amendment Case, Upholds Big Damage Award
A Florida Federal District Court denied a motion for new trial following a jury verdict against Jefferson County deputies, after six days of trial concerning an illegal stop and search made by deputies.
On July 10, 2001, the deputies gained information through a confidential informant that Freddy McCloud was selling cocaine and would be traveling to Tallahassee to visit family. Traveling in McCloud’s vehicle with him were his family, Arnetta McCloud (wife), Cynthia McCloud (daughter), and Marcus Frazier (nephew). The McClouds had visited Arnetta McCloud’s sister, Barbara King, and were returning home when they were stopped by Jefferson County Deputy Gerald Knecht for excessive speed after a “bolo” (Be On the LookOut) alert had been issued.
The McClouds were detained for more than four hours, during which the car and their persons were repeatedly searched, producing nothing. They were also transported back to the King residence, which was also searched with no evidence found, before they were released.
During the four hour stop, the family was subject to threats, racial slurs, and physical mistreatment by deputies.
After six days at trial, the jury found that deputies had violated the McCloud’s Fourth Amendment rights and awarded them over $1.2 million in punitive and compensatory damages. The deputies moved for a new trial, which was denied because (1) the McClouds were detained against their will; (2) officers were not entitled to qualified immunity; (3) punitive damages aggregating $1,215,000 were reasonable; (4) closing arguments were not inflammatory; (5) a new trial would not be ordered on grounds of media bias, and (6) expert testimony report did not require a new trial.
In denying the motion, the court entered a judgment in the case awarding: Plaintiff Arnetta McCloud $85,000 compensatory damages from Defendants David Hobbs (in his official capacity as Jefferson County Sheriff), William D. Hayes, George Stinson, Gerald Knecht, David Clark, and Michael Joyner, jointly and severally. Arnetta also received $45,000 as punitive damages from William D. Hayes and $10,000 in punitive damages from George Stinson, Gerald Knecht, David Clark, each, and $175,000 in punitive damages from Michael Joyner.
Cynthia McCloud was awarded $173,000 in compensatory damages from David Hobbs (in his official capacity as Jefferson County Sheriff), William D. Hayes, George Stinson, Gerald Knecht, David Clark, and Michael Joyner, jointly and severally. She also received $250,000 as punitive damages from William D. Hayes, $100,000 in punitive damages from Defendants George Stinson, Gerald Knecht, David Clark, each, and $250,000 in punitive damages from Michael Joyner, jointly and severally.
Marcus Frazier was awarded $42,000 in punitive damages from William D. Hayes and $10,000 as punitive damages from George Stinson, Gerald Knecht, David Clark, each, and $75,000 in punitive damages from Michael Joyner. See: McCloud v. Fortune, 510 F.Supp.2d 649 (2007).
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Related legal case
McCloud v. Fortune
|Cite||510 F.Supp.2d 649 (2007)|