Date of Settlement: March 10.
Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 120803464
Judge: Jacqueline F. Allen.
Type of Action: Civil rights, unlawful arrest.
Injuries: Soft tissue injuries.
Plaintiffs Counsel: Eric Rayz, Kalikhman & Rayz, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
Defense Counsel: Amanda C. Shoffel, Deputy City Solicitor, Philadelphia.
Defense Expert: Dr. Joseph Bernstein, orthopedist, Philadelphia.
Comment: On Sept. 3, 2010, plaintiff Kimla Robinson, who was 47 at the time, was walking in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia when she saw a crowd of people and several police officers involved in a fight with Askia Sabur, according to the plaintiff’s settlement memorandum. The memo said that, “like others in the crowd,” Robinson took out her phone and began taking pictures of the altercation. When the altercation ended, Robinson closed her phone and began walking away, but she was then suddenly grabbed by two police officers, the memo said.
One officer allegedly held Robinson’s ponytail and slammed her against a police cruiser, and the other officer held Robinson’s arms behind her back and then pulled them over her head, the memo said. According to the memo, the police took Robinson’s phone, handcuffed her, searched her and pushed her into the back of the police vehicle. Robinson’s head was smashed into the door as she entered the vehicle, the memo said.
Robinson contended there was no justification for the officers’ actions, except that the police were trying to “thwart” people from taking pictures of the initial altercation. Robinson’s memo said the police would not answer her questions as to why she was being arrested.
Robinson was put in a holding cell, where she had to sit for several hours, the memo said. According to the memo, Robinson said she was in pain and requested emergency medical attention, but the police did not address her requests for at least 24 hours. Robinson was not prosecuted, and while her phone was returned to her upon release, it was too damaged to be repaired, the memo said.
Robinson sued Sabur, the city of Philadelphia and 25 police officers. She alleged excessive force, assault, false arrest, false imprisonment, wrongful confiscation and destruction of evidence. Sabur also sued the city of Philadelphia, and the cases were consolidated before Sabur’s settled separately.
In the defendant’s answer, the city denied all the allegations, and argued that any injuries were the result of Robinson’s misconduct, and that she assumed the risk of any injuries. The city also asserted a governmental immunity protection and law enforcement privilege, and said that any force was reasonable and necessary.
Robinson contended in her memo that the incident caused bruises, abrasions, headaches and soft tissue injuries to her shoulders and wrists. She contended that the shoulder injuries included a ruptured rotator cuff and exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. She also claimed to suffer from peripheral neuropathy and lower back pain, as well as an aggravation of a prior lumbar fusion surgery.
Robinson said the injuries led to difficulty sleeping and increased anxiety. Robinson also claimed a $15,587 lien.
According to the medical history Robinson gave the city’s independent medical examiner, she went to the emergency room the day after the incident, and also underwent sacral X-rays and an MRI of the left shoulder. The medical history also said she underwent a right shoulder surgery in 2010, a left shoulder surgery in 2012 and a second left shoulder surgery in 2013.
The city’s medical examiner reported that Robinson’s medical examination was normal, that she had prior pain and that her MRIs showed degenerative conditions. The city also argued in its answer that Robinson did not need future treatments, and that her activities were not restricted due to the event.
— Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly •