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Sirens & Gavels

Liberty Lake man disputes money owed to tow truck driver

A Liberty Lake patent holder whose allegations of police brutality were thrown out by a federal jury last month is continuing his protracted legal fight, appealing a judge's order he pay $10,000 to the tow truck driver whose repossession sparked a February 2010 spat.

Franklin Duncan filed paperwork in U.S. District Court earlier this month launching the appeal of an order from Judge Thomas O. Rice that he owed Victor Grant restitution. Duncan argued at trial that Grant entered the gated community where he lived near Liberty Lake golf course unlawfully to repossess his son's sports car. During their scuffle, Grant said Duncan tried to strangle him, while Duncan said Grant crushed his hand in the tow truck's winch.

A jury ruled unanimously in November that Duncan was at fault in the episode but awarded no damages. Following the ruling, Grant asked Rice to reconsider his request for compensation based on the Washington state strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) statute, which also mandates a penalty of $10,000 in addition to legal fees. Duncan argued that Grant's account of his behavior, which included punching a pillar and grinding his hand into a tree, amounted to a false report that prejudiced officers against him. Rice disagreed and granted Grant's request, prompting Duncan's appeal.

The case now heads to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in California.



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