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New York $1.25 Million False Arrest Verdict Upheld

The New York Supreme Court upheld a jury's verdict that police subjected an innocent man to false arrest and malicious prosecution. The court found, however, that the $1,750,000 malicious prosecution damages verdict was excessive and reduced that award to $1,000,000.

On March 12, 1998, two undercover New York police officers purchased cocaine from an individual referred to as "O."

Subsequently, one of the officers and a confidential informant identified Mark Haynes as "O." On April 8, 1998, Haynes was arrested and charged with drug offenses.

Haynes was incarcerated for nearly four months, before he was released on bail on August 6, 1998. Ultimately, it was determined that Haynes was mistakenly identified as "O," and the charges were dismissed in March 1999.

Haynes sued the City in state court for false arrest and malicious prosecution. A jury found the Defendants liable on both claims and awarded Haynes damages of $250,000 on the false arrest claim and $1,750,000 on the malicious prosecution claim.

Defendants moved to set aside the verdict as against the weight of the credible evidence and/or as excessive. The New York Supreme Court upheld the jury's verdict on both claims but agreed "that the damages awarded on the cause of action alleging malicious prosecution were excessive to the extent indicated in that they deviated materially from what would constitute reasonable compensation." As such, the court ordered a new trial unless Haynes stipulated to a reduced damage award of $1,000,000 on the malicious prosecution claim – a decision that was upheld by the Appellate Division, Second Department. See: Haynes v. City of New York, 29 A.D.3d 521, 815 N.Y.S.2d 143 (NY App. Div., 2nd Dept. 2006).

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Related legal case

Haynes v. City of New York