Two men who sued Nassau County for malicious prosecution have been awarded $36 million by a federal jury.
John Restivo and Dennis Halstead were convicted for the 1984 rape and murder of a teenage girl but sued the county and ex-detectives after being freed in 2003 when DNA from the victim’s body did not match that of the defendants.
The two men’s subsequent suit said police, among other things, fabricated evidence and mishandled the investigation.
Yesterday, an Eastern District jury awarded each man $18 million in damages after returning a liability verdict against the county and the deceased lead detective on April 11.
Restivo and Halstead were represented by Nick Brustin and Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, and Josh Dubin of Dubin Research & Consulting.
In a statement, Brustin said “a jury finally acknowledged what the county never has—that its own officers’ intentional misconduct robbed these innocent men of 18 years of their lives.”
Louis Freeman, Lee Ginsberg and Nadjia Limani of Freeman, Nooter & Ginsberg represented the county. A county spokeswoman declined to comment as the case is ongoing.
Restivo, Halstead and a third freed defendant, John Kogut, unsuccessfully sued the county in 2012 (NYLJ, Dec. 3, 2012).
But Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert, who presided over the latest trial, granted a retrial to Restivo and Halstead acknowledging flaws in the wording of the jury charge (NYLJ, July 23, 2013).
Kogut is appealing the verdict separately.