Coralville man to receive $390,000 settlement after wrongly accused of impaired driving

GOHOX69

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Sep 26, 2009
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Non sequitur.
 

AuroraHawk

HR Heisman
Dec 18, 2004
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As far as the tort bit goes, Iowa juries aren't exactly in the habit of giving defendants large judgments especially when the po po is involved. Not to mention most police depts etc have some, if not blanket, tort immunity.

In these circumstances, settlements are not a bad thing so I am sure his attorney did some calculus and this is what our local market bears.

It's a catch-22.
If the person detained in these circumstances would have been an ordinary run-of-the-mill person who didn't need the money and didn't have the sketchy background, I think that the facts and circumstances would put a value of several million dollars on the case.
That written, an ordinary run-of-the-mill person would have sufficient means to fight the criminal case quickly, get out of jail quickly and the situation doesn't fester into what it did for this person.
It truly demonstrates the difference in what type of "justice" can be achieved for those with means and those with minimal means and a troubled background.

I'm not convinced that the "everyday Joe" or "everyday Jane" truly realize how different it can be for those with means and those without.

And . . . before any accuses me of anything . . . I'm not claiming the Plaintiff is a good guy. There's plenty to suggest that he hasn't been a good guy for the entirety of his life. I have zero idea if he turned it around after his conviction.
 

GOHOX69

HR Legend
Sep 26, 2009
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It's a catch-22.
If the person detained in these circumstances would have been an ordinary run-of-the-mill person who didn't need the money and didn't have the sketchy background, I think that the facts and circumstances would put a value of several million dollars on the case.
That written, an ordinary run-of-the-mill person would have sufficient means to fight the criminal case quickly, get out of jail quickly and the situation doesn't fester into what it did for this person.
It truly demonstrates the difference in what type of "justice" can be achieved for those with means and those with minimal means and a troubled background.

I'm not convinced that the "everyday Joe" or "everyday Jane" truly realize how different it can be for those with means and those without.

And . . . before any accuses me of anything . . . I'm not claiming the Plaintiff is a good guy. There's plenty to suggest that he hasn't been a good guy for the entirety of his life. I have zero idea if he turned it around after his conviction.
Can you show me other multi million dollar settlements in the State of Iowa for an intentional tort such as false imprisonment? If you can, that number has to be less than 5.
 

Chewback

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Feb 14, 2002
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It’s the problem I have with law enforcement issues today. When they screw up, the public is all too often either left completely in the dark regarding any consequences for the officers, it Seemingly gets swept under the rug, or nothing major actually happens to the cops.

last year i believe Iowa gop passed a law that made it even harder to sue cops when they screw up.
Yep, good ol' Kim Jong Reynolds and the boys.
 

tumorboy

HR Legend
Gold Member
Sep 24, 2002
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It's a catch-22.
If the person detained in these circumstances would have been an ordinary run-of-the-mill person who didn't need the money and didn't have the sketchy background, I think that the facts and circumstances would put a value of several million dollars on the case.
That written, an ordinary run-of-the-mill person would have sufficient means to fight the criminal case quickly, get out of jail quickly and the situation doesn't fester into what it did for this person.
It truly demonstrates the difference in what type of "justice" can be achieved for those with means and those with minimal means and a troubled background.

I'm not convinced that the "everyday Joe" or "everyday Jane" truly realize how different it can be for those with means and those without.

And . . . before any accuses me of anything . . . I'm not claiming the Plaintiff is a good guy. There's plenty to suggest that he hasn't been a good guy for the entirety of his life. I have zero idea if he turned it around after his conviction.
Probably a known quantity to the LEO. Figured take him in and find something later. He's usually up to something anyway.
 

sober_teacher

HR Legend
Mar 26, 2007
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Precisely. You have caught on to the ole GOP talking point of "tort reform." Central to said tort reform is capping or grossly reducing jury verdicts aka $$$$$$$$$$.

I don’t necessarily hate the concept of capping what should be paid out, but they took it too far and set it far too low.
 
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AuroraHawk

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Dec 18, 2004
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Can you show me other multi million dollar settlements in the State of Iowa for an intentional tort such as false imprisonment? If you can, that number has to be less than 5.

I'm relying upon practicing tort defense for 28+ years and the trend that I'm seeing in not only verdicts but settlements in all sorts of claims.

Trumped up criminal charges.
Four months in jail.
Losing a job.
Losing a residence.
Fully cooperative person during the interrogation process.
Person showed photos of his car being involved in an accident two days before he was interrogated (the supposed reason why he was being questioned).
Cops' body camera recordings acknowledging that all testing was negative.
All exculpatory evidence omitted from reports.
Punitive damage claim included in the lawsuit.

Yeah . . . give me an "everyday Joe" with those facts and I'm pretty confident that a Johnson County jury would hit the defendants pretty hard.

Point being . . . an "everyday Joe" wouldn't be placed in that situation.
 
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AuroraHawk

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Dec 18, 2004
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I'm guessing that money is taxed and the lawyers take half. He's looking at 30k a year

Your guess is off. His tort recovery wouldn't be taxed. See post #34. Lawyers' fee would be 33% of settlement amount. Costs would eat into the other recovery as would any medical bill liens.
 
May 27, 2010
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My only wish is that Officer Graves was dismissed from the department or told to move on, he seems like a bad actor here IMO. I also think the use of so-called Drug Recognition Experts is mostly a whole lotta BS. It seems a far too easy way for LEO to establish probable cause, similar to claiming to smell the odor of marijuana at a traffic stop. Trampling our rights is not cool.
 

ICHawk-I

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Nov 24, 2004
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Maybe his behavior made him appear drunk as a side affect of brain injury?

I assume he was ok to drive but clearly the police did pay attention to details/procedure.
This is surprising because most of the sheriffs we work with say anymore when someone seems drunk they call us to come check their blood sugar because they kept taking people with diabetic emergencies to jail saying they were drunk.

Guess maybe the taxpayers of Johnson county who paid for this might should hope some internal policies change so this doesn't happen again.
 

Titus Andronicus

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Sep 26, 2002
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So how does it work, when you are in jail and can't pay your rent?

The landlord simply auctions off your stuff and applies that total to the rent balance. Is there any communication between the landlord and the inmate? between the inmate and his employer? There would be a lot of personal business items as well; car insurance and on and on. Does the inmate get to arrange this stuff on his own? Does he get to at least have access to his cell phone?

Are you cut off from your physicians and your pharmacy as well?

What happens to your records, baby pictures, birth certificate, passport, etc.?

Do you ever get any of that back?

He had a car? What happened to that?
 
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beerhawk21

Scout Team
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Jan 3, 2005
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Just to point out a couple of things. First, those of you saying this guy had a bad lawyer have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Marty Diaz is as good as they come. There are others who are also excellent - but Marty is no joke. Most of us in this business would not hesitate to let Marty represent us if we were injured. If you have any doubts go look up the pleadings then come back and discuss it. Marty has more than 300 pages of briefing and it went up to the Supreme Court on a request for interlocutory appeal. There is a ton of excellent work in this.

Second, I know for a fact the case was settled with tax consequences in mind. The Plaintiff ended up with more net money in the end because of that.

Third, in the end the client chooses whether to accept the settlment not the lawyer. Lawyers are hired to try cases. The good ones approach it with that in mind and not with settlement as the first option. Marty would have tried this case in a heartbeat and he would have done well. If a jury returns a zero verdict, however, there is no recourse. In addition you need to understand there is a very real possibility the Iowa Supreme Court may have weighed in on this issue of qualified immunity. The Iowa Supreme Court appears to be expanding qualified immunity not restricting it. You can look at a case called Lenette which came down last month that does just that. In other words this could have been litigated for the next 2 years and the plaintiff came out with zero.

Do not confuse google with law degrees and experience. Period.
 

GOHOX69

HR Legend
Sep 26, 2009
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Just to point out a couple of things. First, those of you saying this guy had a bad lawyer have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Marty Diaz is as good as they come. There are others who are also excellent - but Marty is no joke. Most of us in this business would not hesitate to let Marty represent us if we were injured. If you have any doubts go look up the pleadings then come back and discuss it. Marty has more than 300 pages of briefing and it went up to the Supreme Court on a request for interlocutory appeal. There is a ton of excellent work in this.

Second, I know for a fact the case was settled with tax consequences in mind. The Plaintiff ended up with more net money in the end because of that.

Third, in the end the client chooses whether to accept the settlment not the lawyer. Lawyers are hired to try cases. The good ones approach it with that in mind and not with settlement as the first option. Marty would have tried this case in a heartbeat and he would have done well. If a jury returns a zero verdict, however, there is no recourse. In addition you need to understand there is a very real possibility the Iowa Supreme Court may have weighed in on this issue of qualified immunity. The Iowa Supreme Court appears to be expanding qualified immunity not restricting it. You can look at a case called Lenette which came down last month that does just that. In other words this could have been litigated for the next 2 years and the plaintiff came out with zero.

Do not confuse google with law degrees and experience. Period.
Thank you for echoing what I've been bleating post after post. If you're not an attorney, you should be 😀
 

The Tradition

HR King
Apr 23, 2002
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In Florida, there's a cap on damages one can receive for false arrest. No one is winning the lottery because of police misconduct.

Don't know about Ioway.
 

tumorboy

HR Legend
Gold Member
Sep 24, 2002
25,307
29,415
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Just to point out a couple of things. First, those of you saying this guy had a bad lawyer have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Marty Diaz is as good as they come. There are others who are also excellent - but Marty is no joke. Most of us in this business would not hesitate to let Marty represent us if we were injured. If you have any doubts go look up the pleadings then come back and discuss it. Marty has more than 300 pages of briefing and it went up to the Supreme Court on a request for interlocutory appeal. There is a ton of excellent work in this.

Second, I know for a fact the case was settled with tax consequences in mind. The Plaintiff ended up with more net money in the end because of that.

Third, in the end the client chooses whether to accept the settlment not the lawyer. Lawyers are hired to try cases. The good ones approach it with that in mind and not with settlement as the first option. Marty would have tried this case in a heartbeat and he would have done well. If a jury returns a zero verdict, however, there is no recourse. In addition you need to understand there is a very real possibility the Iowa Supreme Court may have weighed in on this issue of qualified immunity. The Iowa Supreme Court appears to be expanding qualified immunity not restricting it. You can look at a case called Lenette which came down last month that does just that. In other words this could have been litigated for the next 2 years and the plaintiff came out with zero.

Do not confuse google with law degrees and experience. Period.
Changed my opinion in the thread. Still feels low. But I have a different world experience from the plaintiff.
 
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cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
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Two police officers who wrongly arrested a Coralville man for being an impaired driver without any evidence and locking him up in jail for nearly three months didn’t lose their jobs or face any consequences that were made public.


Former Iowa City Officer Travis Graves resigned from the department on Oct. 15, 2018, and was hired four days later as a conservation officer with Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and former Coralville Officer Jeff Reinhard resigned and became an Iowa City officer in April 2019, according to both departments.


Both were hired for their new positions after the wrongful charge against Anthony Watson was dismissed April 9, 2018, but before a lawsuit by Watson was filed in September 2019.


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The Iowa City and Coralville city councils approved a $390,000 payout to settle the lawsuit from Watson, which accused the cities and Graves and Reinhard of negligence resulting in personal injury, false arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.


Typically, when civil settlements are reached before trial, the defendants don’t admit to any guilt or wrongdoing — it is rather a compromise of a disputed claim.


Police departments consider personnel matters to be confidential and exempt from public records requests, so neither department would answer questions about whether either officer faced any reprimands because of the incident. They also wouldn’t answer questions raised by social media video or news reports involving Graves and Reinhard alleging unreasonable use of force.


One incident involving Graves led to a policy change in July 2015.


Graves forced a 15-year-old Black male to the ground during an arrest at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center in Iowa City. Some viewed it as discrimination based on a video posted on social media, and it started an online petition calling for the “end of discrimination against Black youth.”


That incident led to the Iowa City Police Department modifying its arrest procedures and policies and to use more “de-escalation techniques” before using force.


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Graves also was under investigation after being employed by the Iowa DNR for a 2019 arrest following a fight between two women, one Black and the other white, in Des Moines, according to news reports. A video posted on social media showed Graves, who was identified in court records as the officer who gave the Black woman two elbow blows to the head while she grabbed the other woman’s hair. In the video, Graves pepper-sprays the Black woman while the other woman is allowed to walk away. But both were booked into jail, according to news reports.


Graves and another conservation officer were placed on administrative leave during an investigation but cleared of any wrongdoing a few weeks later, according to the Des Moines Register.


A video was posted last month involving Reinhard during an arrest of an intoxicated woman, Daria Brown, 22, which still is under review Friday by the Iowa City department. The June 3 video posted on social media appeared to show Reinhard, one of three officers at the scene, punching a combative Brown as she is put into a police vehicle. However, Iowa City police released a video later that showed the arrest from other angles, including one that shows Brown trying to grab a Taser off an officer’s belt.




Cedar Rapids lawyer Pressley Henningsen, who was one of the lawyers for Jerime Mitchell, the Black motorist who was shot three times and paralyzed by a white former Cedar Rapids police officer during a traffic stop in 2016, said personnel matters and discipline being kept confidential is typical in Iowa because there are no police misconduct record laws in the state.


That fact isn’t unique to Iowa. A 2021 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting analysis of police misconduct record laws in all 50 states shows the majority have “mostly closed or restrictive” records, according to a report by the Associated Press. Only 15 states were found to have these records “mostly public.” Iowa’s records were deemed “mostly closed.”


The analysis found law enforcement personnel records in Iowa are closed but in cases where officers are fired, that information should be partially accessible to the public, according to Iowa Code 22.7.


Randy Evans, executive director of Iowa Freedom of Information Council in Des Moines, noted the law doesn’t just cover law enforcement personnel records but personnel records for all government employees.


“The documented reasons and rationale must be released when any government employee is fired or demoted or when he/she resigns in lieu of termination,” Evans told The Gazette. “The problem though is when an employee resigns but officials claim they were not going to fire the person.”


Henningsen agreed that’s a common problem — the agencies are policing themselves and there’s this “underlying code of silence.”


“But it’s difficult to get all the facts (in an internal investigation) because they don’t want to point fingers at each other,” Henningsen added. “Bottom line — there’s not a whole lot of accountability.”


The use of police body cameras has helped determine what happens in these cases and helped lead to large settlements when someone is shot by police. But in some cases, the cameras are shut off or not working. In the Mitchell shooting in Cedar Rapids, Officer Lucas Jones didn’t have audio of the encounter outside his squad car, so most of the exchange between him and Mitchell was not captured.


The city of Cedar Rapids’ insurance carrier agreed to settle the case last year a day before it went to trial, paying Jerime Mitchell and his wife, Bracken Mitchell, $8 million — without acknowledging fault or liability. Jones was later fired from the department after an investigation into a different incident.

 

McLovin32

HR Legend
Feb 1, 2008
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I grew up w/ ol Officer Graves. He was always a trouble maker growing up, but nothing too crazy. Once he was in law enforcement, it really gave him that big ego and changed him quite a bit. Haven't talked to him in probably 4-5 years/csb
 

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