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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: lawsuits

Man shot in CdA in ‘09 sues lawyer

A Moses Lake man who was shot by a Coeur d'Alene businessman nearly two years ago in what a grand jury ruled was self defense is suing his civil attorney for malpractice.

Brandon R. Burgess alleges Spokane lawyer Lloyd Herman directed him to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to determine whether they needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court after Adam M. Johnson filed for bankruptcy.

Burgess said his father responded that the procedure would not discharge their claim, and Herman responded by not filing an adversarial proceeding against Johnson.

Herman says that's not true - he always told Burgess he needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court, but Burgess took the wrong advice.

“I never put him in touch with any bankruptcy lawyer. he told me he had a bankruptcy lawyer,” Herman said. “Instead of suing him he sued me”

Burgess is seeking damages to cover his medical expenses and others costs associated with the shooting. He had been seeking money from Johnson before his claim was dismissed because of the procedural error.

Herman said it's unlikely Burgess ever would have recovered civil damages after a grand jury rejected criminal charges against Johnson.

“The likelihood of them ever recovering once the state didn't charge him with a crime is slim or none,” Herman said.

Johnson was arrested on drug charges in Post Falls in April. He pleaded guilty to possession of heroin in November and is to be sentenced in January. The plea deal, which dropped a drug paraphernalia charge, calls for him to serve time in a local jail.

Man sues hostages for breaking promise

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Can there be no trust between a kidnapper and his hostages?

A man who held a Kansas couple hostage in their home while fleeing from authorities is suing them, claiming they broke an oral contract made when he promised them money in exchange for hiding him from police. The couple has asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

Jesse Dimmick of suburban Denver is serving an 11-year sentence after bursting into Jared and Lindsay Rowley's Topeka-area home in September 2009. He was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a Colorado man and a chase had begun in in Geary County.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Dimmick filed a breach of contract suit in Shawnee County District Court, in response to a suit the Rowleys filed in September seeking $75,000 from him for intruding in their home and causing emotional stress.

Dimmick contends he told the couple he was being chased by someone, most likely the police, who wanted to kill him.

“I, the defendant, asked the Rowleys to hide me because I feared for my life. I offered the Rowleys an unspecified amount of money which they agreed upon, therefore forging a legally binding oral contract,” Dimmick said in his hand-written court documents. He wants $235,000, in part to pay for the hospital bills that resulted from him being shot by police when they arrested him.

Neighbors have said the couple fed Dimmick snacks and watched movies with him until he fell asleep and they were able to escape their home unharmed.

Dimmick was convicted in May 2010 of four felonies, including two counts of kidnapping. He was sentenced to 10 years and 11 months on those charges. He was later sent to a jail in Brighton, Colo., where he is being held on eight charges, including murder, in connection of with the killing of Michael Curtis in September 2009. A preliminary hearing originally scheduled for Dec. 6 has been rescheduled for April 12. No plea has been entered in the case.

Robert E. Keeshan, an attorney for the Rowleys, filed a motion denying there was a contract, but said if there was it would not have been binding anyway.

“In order for parties to form a binding contract, there must be a meeting of the minds on all essential terms, including and most specifically, an agreement on the price,” he wrote.

Keeshan said the contract also would have been invalid because the couple agreed to let Dimmick in the home only because they knew he had a knife and suspected he might have a gun.

‘Judge Judy’ to feature Spokane case

Two Spokane County residents will appear on the TV reality show “Judge Judy” tomorrow as part of a landlord-tenant dispute. 

Shennen Blackburn of Liberty Lake is suing former tenant Samuel Doyle, of Spokane, for allegedly damaging her rental property, according to a press release.

 Blackburn said Doyle, 25, (pictured right) lived at the home for a year and caused severe damage when he moved out. She said she added Doyle to the lease with Tyler McKinley, but Doyle said he never had a lease and just lived there.

Blackburn said McKinley never actually lived at the home.

Judge Judy Sheindlin calls Doyle “a hustler.” “You know, you may hustle this nice lady here, I guarantee you, you’re not going to hustle me. Guarantee,” Sheindlin tells Doyle, the press release said.

Watch the episode Tuesday at 4 p.m. on KHQ channel 6.

A “Judge Judy” episode featuring two Spokane residents last year led to new criminal charges against a fraud suspect. Read more here.

The same day a reporter received word of Doyle's TV appearance, Spokane County sheriff's detectives filed a search warrant that was used to seize items from Doyle's home last week in an ongoing marijuana investigation.

Detectives searched a home on Judkins Road earlier this month and, in addition to arresting five suspects and seizing eight pounds of marijuana and 1,000 plants, found paperwork in Doyle's name, according to the search warrant. The home's electricity bill was in McKinley's name.

Interviews led detectives to believe Doyle claimed to be growing the marijuana for medical marijuana patients, and that he'd offered a man $5,000 to help him.

Doyle was described as a “the business guy in all of this,” according to the search warrant. Others told detectives they saw Doyle at the growhouse checking on the plants and asking “the trimmers” how the work was going. 

Detectives searched Doyle's home in the 10900 block of East 7th Avenue in Spokane Valley on Nov. 16.

Doyle, who is on probation for possessing 10 pounds of marijuana in Oregon, is not in custody. The investigation is ongoing.

Man shot by police sues Spokane Valley

A man acquitted of assaulting two police officers who shot him in October 2009 is suing the city of Spokane Valley.

David J. Glidden, 29, was paralyzed by the shooting and is seeking compensation for millions of dollars in medical expenses he’s accrued and expects to accrue. He was holding a pellet gun when shot by officers at his Spokane Valley home Oct. 30, 2009.

Read the reset of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 17: Man shot by deputies acquitted of assault

Nov. 9, 2009: Man shot by police: 'It will be on the news'

Nov. 4, 2009: Man shot by police had pellet gun

Jury awards police detective $722k

A jury on Friday awarded more than $700,000 to a Spokane police detective they say was wrongly fired and retaliated against by Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.

The amount includes $250,000 in punitive damages against Kirkpatrick, who quickly left Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Connor’s courtroom with Assistant City Attorney Ellen O’Hara after the verdict was read. Both declined comment.

Read the rest of my story here.

Attorney Bob Dunn gave a closing argument Thrusday so critical of Kirkpatrick that her attorney aplogized to her. Read more here.

Trial begins in SPD detective’s lawsuit

Trial began today in a lawsuit filed against the City of Spokane and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick by a detective who was fired in the midst of a messy divorce.

Jay Mehring alleges he was wrongfully terminated and defamed in 2007 when Kirkpatrick heard reports that he'd threatened to burn his wife's house down.

Kirkpatrick, who is sitting at the defendant's table for the trial, announced Mehring's arrest in a press conference.

 A jury acquitted him of felony harassment and he was reinstated with the police department. He's currently on paid administrative leave.

Bob Dunn is representing Mehring in the case, which continues with testimony Thursday before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor.

 Past coverage:

Oct. 8: City must turn over emails in Mehring suit

Oct. 7: Judge calls Mehring case 'dysfunctional'

Oct. 4: Detective alleges witness tampering in civil suit

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

Therapist ‘broke family;’ to pay $675k

A therapist who is accused of ruining a Spokane couple’s marriage by misdiagnosing the husband as a sex addict and making unsubstantiated claims that he molested the couple’s sons was ordered Thursday to pay $675,000 to her former patients.

The allegations against Darlene Townsend, a licensed therapist, include a statement she gave a state investigator that one of the couple’s boys would either kill himself or his entire family. The boy was 5 at the time, said the couple’s attorney, John Allison. Of the total amount, $375,000 was for the former husband and the remainder for the former wife.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Judge calls Mehring case ‘dysfunctional’

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor had choice words Thursday for attorneys on both sides of the Jay Mehring civil case.

The wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit filed by the Spokane police detective against the city of Spokane and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is set to go to a jury trial Oct. 17, and O'Connor says she's lost her patience with the problems that keep arising. 

She ordered attorneys Bob Dunn and Ellen O'Hara to appear before her this afternoon “no matter what” with an agreed upon statement in the case and a list of issues that are in dispute and issues that aren't.

She threatened to hold the lawyers in contempt if they weren't able to do so “because I am sick of this.”

The judge also warned that she would have no time to look at motions for reconsideration, “so assume that they're all going to be denied.”

At one point, Dunn stood up, but only for a moment. “Counsel, I'm not done. Sit down,” O'Connor said.

The judge also picked up a report she said had been submitted that morning in violation of a previous order.

“See this? The one I got today? In the waste basket!” she said, holding up the waste basket and tossing the report inside. “Do you understand how dysfunctional this trial is?”

“Do you understand I never have these types of problems in any other cases?” she continued. “I've just lost my patience with all of you.”

O'Connor's criticism came at the end of a hearing in which she ordered the City of Spokane to produce emails regarding its contract with a police department psychologist who's part of a witness tampering allegation by Mehring against Kirkpatrick and city attorneys.

They contend the city didn't renew Deanette Palmer's contract because she had ruled he was fit to return to duty. Ellen O'Hara, an assistant attorney for the City of Spokane, blasted the witness tampering claim in court Thursday, calling it baseless and “literally defaming.”

O'Hara said the city has always planned to renew Palmer's contract. City Attorney Rocky Treppiedi “is a very busy man,” O'Hara said. “This is a minor $10,000 to $15,000 contract. It was not on top of his list and he didn't get to it. And he even apologized to Dr. Palmer.

O'Hara continued, “What this really is is an attempt by the plaintiff to smear Chief Kirkpatrick and the city” and to use the media to taint the jury pool by building on “all the smearing” from the Otto Zehm-Karl Thompson case.

She called the allegations “an absurd sideshow - one of many that are gong to be attempted to be presented din this case.”

“Dr. Palmer is not saying that the city obstructed her. She fell between a rock and a hard place,” O'Hara said. “It's clear to Dr. Palmer and the city that the chief wants the contract renewed.”

O'Hara also said, “This is beyond unbelievable to me that this is happening,” prompting O'Connor to say, “Well, I gather that. Why don't you sit down now.”

Dunn emphasized that when asked in deposition if she felt her work with Mehring had adversely affected her contract with the city, Palmer responded, “definitely.” But Palmer also said she didn't feel Kirkpatrick did anything unfair regarding her testifying in the criminal trial and that she didn't ahve “beef” with the chief.

“I said clearly that the issue was with the City Attorney's office,” Palmer said.  (Read the entire transcript of Palmer's deposition here.)

O'Connor said the issue could be discussed during the civil trial, and emails outlining the issue could be entered as evidence. She denied Dunn's request for Palmer's emails but ordered the City to hand over the copies.

“The issue of its relevancy goes to whether or not there's any bias on the part of Dr. Palmer or any attempt to have Dr. Palmer changer her position or testify differently at trial,” O'Connor said. “If such an email exists - and I'm not suggesting that it does - that would certainly be relevant.”

Mehring, 43, has been on paid leave since Sept. 9, 2010, after Kirkpatrick said he was unfit for duty based on claims he'd made in his lawsuit.

Mehring filed the lawsuit after a jury acquitted him of charges that he'd threatened to kill his wife. Kirkpatrick had put him unpaid leave but reinstated him with back pay and a demotion.

Tampering alleged in Mehring civil case

A Spokane Police detective has filed a formal complaint asking the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations that Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and city attorneys have engaged in felony witness tampering.

 Detective Jay Mehring filed the complaint with the sheriff’s office Sunday, alleging that the city refused to renew a contract with the department’s longtime psychologist after she gave an opinion favorable to Mehring as part of his $3.5 million civil suit against the city. That suit alleges he was wrongfully terminated in 2007 amid reports that he threatened to harm his wife.

City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Tuesday that the City denies any allegation of witness tampering.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 4, 2010: Detective in civil suit on leave

City to hire lawyer to defend police suit

The Spokane City Council on Monday agreed to hire a local attorney to help the city defend itself in a lawsuit filed by a Spokane police detective.

The city will pay Milt Rowland, a former assistant city attorney for Spokane, up to $75,000 to assist the city in the case brought by Detective Jay Mehring. Rowland is part of the firm Foster Pepper.

Jon Brunt has more at the Spin Control blog.

Fatal crash leads to ‘substantial’ payout

The family of a 9-year-old girl killed in a car crash that led to an infraction against the stop-sign running driver will receive a “substantial” amount of money in an out-of-court lawsuit settlement, their lawyer says.

Olivia Chaffin (pictured) died June 10, 2010, after a pizza delivery driver who was slightly speeding ran a stop sign and crashed into her parents' vehicle. Her grandmother, Shirley Chaffin, broke her neck.

The driver, Echo Henderson, received a $500 ticket for negligent driving. Spokane County prosecutors said the girl's father, Richard Chaffin also was speeding and that running a stop sign, while a bad driving error, is not criminally negligent.

The Chaffins sued for wrongful death and personal injury, and four insurance companies, including Argo for Westside Pizza and Progressive for Henderson, settled out of court on Thursday “for the maximum amount of available insurance,” lawyer James Sweetster said in a news release. Details are confidential. The

Chaffins were driving to Olivia's school play when the crash occurred at Monroe and Hazard roads in north Spokane County. The girl's organs were donated.

An 11-year-old boy received her heart, two sisters in their 60s in Spokane received her kidneys, an unknown recipient revived her corneas and a Philadelphia woman in her 50s receive one of her lungs.

A soccer tournament names in Olivia's honor is to be an annual event.

Her parents, who are teachers in the Mead School District, have pleaded 10,000 to start a scholarship for underprivileged girls who play sports. Sweetser is donating $5,000.

Chism filed $10M claim as suit proceeds

A suspended Spokane firefighter’s wrongful arrest lawsuit against the Washington State Patrol over a botched child pornography investigation is headed to trial after an appellate court ruling Wednesday.

A three-person panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says false statements made by WSP investigators amounted to intentional and reckless conduct that infringed on Spokane fire Lt. Todd Chism’s civil rights. The two WSP employees named in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, Detective Rachel Gardner and Sgt. John Sager, shouldn’t be granted immunity because of their actions, the court ruled.

The ruling was issued the same day $10 million claim was filed against against the state of Washington alleging WSP Troopers Greg Birkeland and Greg Riddell used excessive force when they arrested Chism in a separate incident in April 2010.

Read the rest of my story here.

Spokane man sues over Abu Dhabi arrest

A retired Air Force officer in Spokane says a series of blunders involving international airlines and a global security contractor in Iraq led to his incarceration in a vermin-infested Middle Eastern prison.

A complaint recently filed in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington alleges James H. Hunter followed proper procedures for transporting personal firearms on a trip to Iraq in 2008 but was jailed after an airline sent him to another country and his employer denied knowing him.

“He suffered 60 days of frightening existence in one of the world’s most notorious prisons,” said Hunter’s lawyer, Thatcher Stone, of New York. “He picked up all sorts of illnesses when he was there, some of which have cleared up and some of which he still has.” Stone is handling the case with Coeur d’Alene lawyer Nicolas Vieth.

Read the rest of my story here.

County to pay $230k in jail mail lawsuit

Spokane County will pay $230,000 to settle a lawsuit over restrictions on jail inmates’ mail.

County commissioners and Sheriff’s Office officials also agreed Tuesday to abandon a policy of requiring messages from friends and families of prisoners to be written on postcards.

A consent decree negotiated with Prison Legal News also will prohibit other mail policies that county officials dropped less than a month after PLN filed suit Jan. 21.

Read the rest of John Craig's story here.

Past coverage:

March 2: Jail changes postcards-only policy

Creach family seeks $15mil from county

The family of slain Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach has filed a $14.7 million wrongful death claim against Spokane County, which is the first step in filing a civil lawsuit.

“A jury may come in and feel highly aggravated at what happened,” said the pastor’s son, Alan Creach. “They may award a very large sum.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who is on vacation, said Tuesday that he knows the claim has been filed. “Since it’s gone into the lawsuit phase, I don’t have any comments, per our legal advice.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Native American tribe sues over raid

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — A Washington state Native American tribe is suing several Mississippi municipalities over allegations that their law enforcement officials illegally invaded tribal lands during an FBI-led raid earlier this year.

The target of the Feb. 16 search was property that belongs to King Mountain Tobacco, which was under federal investigation in a black-market cigarette conspiracy. The city of Tupelo and Marshall County in Mississippi are among targets in the lawsuit.

The Confederated Tribes and Bands of Yakama Nation claim police barged onto tribal land without prior notice and invaded their peace.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington, seeks a court order compelling the defendants to notify the tribe of any entry onto reservation lands.

News of the lawsuit came Friday in a city of Tupelo memo obtained by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. In it, the city's attorney, John Hill, asked City Clerk Glenda Muse to put on the City Council's July 19 agenda a proposal to hire a Washington State law firm to represent Tupelo.

In Hill's memo, he explains that a Tupelo police officer has been assisting federal authorities with the cigarette investigation and participated “in an action” on the Yakama reservation in Washington. Other Mississippi entities are named for similar reasons.

The tribe says the raid, which it calls an invasion, was a violation of the Yakama Treaty of 1855 and other federal laws.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a memo written June 22 that the warrant to search the eastern Washington state reservation “was to seek evidence of a crime, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed” or used in the commission of a crime.

In this case, the allegations claim King Mountain Tobacco, housed on the Yakama reservation, engaged in efforts to avoid federal and state taxes on their cigarette sales.

Documents obtained by the Daily Journal earlier this year claim King Mountain Tobacco officials repeatedly met with Lee County, Miss., cigarette warehousers and illegally shipped their products through Mississippi to avoid the taxes.

No criminal charges have been made public against any King Mountain Tobacco officials, although the federal documents claim they have been shown substantial evidence against them.

Recently the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Mississippi filed court papers to seize nearly $1 million and some 22 vintage vehicles reportedly purchased with the proceeds of King Mountain's alleged illegal activity.

Tupelo wholesaler Jerry Burke has gone to prison for his parts in the conspiracy, and others have been sentenced or await sentencing for their guilty pleas.

Fired detective wants $10 mil. from city

Fired Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey and his attorney filed a $10 million claim against the city today, arguing that police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick terminated him because he spoke out against the chief’s policies as the vice president of the Spokane Police Guild.

“Chief Kirkpatrick has for some time expressed her retaliatory desire/intent to terminate Detective Harvey’s 24-year law enforcement career due to his ongoing vocal opposition to her disparate and unlawful treatment of union members,” Harvey’s attorney, Bob Dunn, wrote in the tort claim.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Jail inmate: Lack of porn violates rights

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan jail inmate says he's being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he can't have pornography.

In a handwritten lawsuit, 21-year-old Kyle Richards claims his civil rights are being violated at the Macomb County Jail. Richards says denying his request for erotic material subjects him to a “poor standard of living” and “sexual and sensory deprivation.”

The Michigan Department of Corrections tells The Detroit News that prisons allow some pornographic material, though it's banned at the jail. The American Civil Liberties Union says prisons have a lot of leeway.

Richards was charged with bank robbery after police followed a trail of snowy footprints and dropped money to his apartment from a bank robbery scene in January in Fraser, north of Detroit.

Richards pleaded guilty. Sentencing is Aug. 2.

Suit filed over crash that killed CdA grad

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) — The parents of a College of Southern Idaho baseball player and Coeur d'Alene High School graduate killed in a fatal crash last September have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against others involved in the accident.

 Devon Austin (pictured) was a passenger in a car that crashed while allegedly being chased by another vehicle after a party.

The 19-year-old Austin and the driver of the car, 18-year-old Ryan Reinhardt, were killed.

The driver of the second vehicle, Kade Laughlin, has been charged with reckless driving.

The Times-News reports that Tim and Paula Austin, along with Jessica Duran, the crash's lone survivor, filed their lawsuit June 3. They name Laughlin, Reinhardt and three others as defendants. They claim the defendants were involved in the car chase while under the influence of alcohol.

They are asking for $50,000 in damages.

Jury rejects claims in fatal crash lawsuit

Dorothy Mullican sat on a courthouse bench and cried Thursday after losing a five-year legal battle to hold someone responsible for her son’s death.

Mullican’s son, Daren Lafayette, 19, was working on a road crew on Sept. 12, 2006, when a truck began rolling downhill toward a car that had two people inside. Lafayette chased down the truck and climbed inside, but could not stop it before it careened over an embankment and exploded.

A Spokane County Superior Court jury absolved the general contractor, N.A. Degerstrom, a brake manufacturer and the worker who installed the brake on the truck.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

June 1: Fatal runaway truck case in hands of jury

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