X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The largest verdict in the state of Indiana’s history, $56.5 million, was awarded on May 9 on a civil rights claim involving a death in a jail’s drunk tank. In the early morning of Oct. 5, 1997, 30-year-old Christopher Moreland was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. He was taken to the St. Joseph County Jail in South Bend, Ind., where he was incarcerated in the drunk tank. A confrontation between Moreland and another prisoner prompted deputy Paul Moffa to enter the cell where, a surveillance video shows, Moffa sprayed Moreland in the face with a powerful pepper spray called OC 10. Moffa then continued to assault Moreland, choking him and slamming his head against a concrete bench. Deputies Erich Dieter and Michael Sawdon then took Moreland to the fourth floor of the jail to shower off the OC 10. However, instead of putting Moreland into a cold shower, the standard procedure, the guards threw him into a hot shower, amplifying the effect of a chemical that was already 10 times as powerful as regular pepper spray. Though there was no video surveillance on the fourth floor, testimony by inmates as well as several prison guards indicated that Dieter and Sawdon then placed Moreland in a restraining chair where they sprayed him again. He allegedly then was removed from the chair and thrown into the shower, causing him to hit his head and suffer a subdural hematoma, a brain injury. After another stint in the restraining chair, the naked and comatose Moreland was returned to the drunk tank, where he was found dead the following morning. After Dieter and Sawdon were acquitted of federal criminal charges in February 2000, Moreland’s family sued, alleging that Dieter, Sawdon, Moffa and the county jail violated Moreland’s civil rights under � 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. The case against the county was dismissed on summary judgment and the jury hung on the charges against Moffa. Martin Kus, counsel for Dieter and Sawdon, said that since neither deputy is indemnified by the county, the chances are slim that the Morelands will collect a substantial amount of the $56.5 million verdict against them. Plaintiffs’ attorneys: Geoffrey Fieger of Fieger, Fieger, Kenney & Johnson in Southfield, Mich.; Sean Drew from Niles, Mich. Defense attorneys: Martin W. Kus of Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones in La Porte, Ind.; James F. Groves of Hardig, Lee & Groves in South Bend, Ind.; Wendell W. Walsh of May, Oberfell & Lorber in South Bend, Ind.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.