Defense verdict for City of Carlsbad in excessive force case. San Diego County.

Summary

Angry words between a civilian and police officer turn into an arrest, with police accused of excessive force after plaintiff tries to flee.

The Case

  • Case Name: Cindy Michelle Hahn and Brandon Hahn v. City of Carlsbad, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: : US District Court / 3:15-cv-02007-DMS-BGS
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, August 03, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, September 04, 2014
  • Type of Action: Civil Rights, Excessive Force, Highlighted Verdicts
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Dana M. Sabraw
  • Plaintiffs:
    Cindy Michelle Hahn, 41, part-time office worker.
  • Defendants:
    City of Carlsbad
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Defense verdict as to City of Carlsbad and all individual officers.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: Unanimous defense verdict as to all causes of action.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: N/A

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Geragos & Geragos by David W. Gammill and Ben J. Meiselas, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Meyers Fozi LLP by Golnar J. Fozi and Jeremy M. Dwork, Carlsbad.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anthony Reading, Ph.D., forensic psychology, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    None testified.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Scott DeFoe, police practices, Huntington Beach.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Joe Callanan, police practices, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Around 4 p.m. on July 31, 2013, plaintiff Cindy Hahn, 41, a part-time office employee, was stopped in her vehicle for a seatbelt violation in the parking lot of Magee Park in Carlsbad by a city police officer.  Prior to being stopped for the seatbelt violation, plaintiff Hahn had encountered the police officer as he was impounding a car. Third party trial witnesses testified Hahn was aggressive in her interaction with the officer. In the course of the subsequent traffic stop, Hahn was eventually placed under arrest for obstructing and impeding the officer in the performance of his duties, but broke away from the arresting officer and ran, requiring the officer to give chase and to call for cover.

    Thereafter, a back-up officer arrived and assisted in getting Hahn handcuffed and in custody. During this process, a third officer arrived and conducted scene and crowd control. Hahn sued the City of Carlsbad and multiple police officers as a result of this incident.

    Through partial summary judgment, the court dismissed Hahn's claims against the city under Monell, her claim for false arrest and malicious prosecution, and her claims against two other police officers who had arrived on the scene after Hahn's arrest. The matter went to trial against three officers on an excessive force claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, against two of the officers for battery, and against one of the officers for alleged violations of the California Bane Act. Plaintiff contended the officers used excessive force in the course of her arrest. 

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant police officers used excessive force to subdue plaintiff Cynthia Hahn. That the excessive force included punches to her face. Further, that plaintiff Brandon Hahn suffered loss of consortium due to the injuries inflicted on his wife.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants denied Hahn’s claims of excessive force. Defendants contended that, during a routine traffic stop, Hahn exited the vehicle without permission and repeatedly disobeyed orders to return to the vehicle or sit on a nearby curb. After multiple orders from the officer were refused, and Hahn repeatedly approached the officer against his directions, Hahn was advised she was under arrest.  Instead of submitting to the arrest, Hahn evaded the officer’s grasp and ran. After a brief pursuit, Hahn continued to resist arrest, leading to the involvement of additional officers. Reasonable force was then used by the officers to complete the arrest and take Hahn into custody. Defendants also denied the nature and extent of Hahn’s injury claims.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Concussion, post-concussive syndrome, soft tissue injury.

  • Major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: N/A
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $50,000+
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: N/A
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: N/A

Additional Notes

Plaintiff demanded the jury award $1,250,000 for plaintiff's injuries.

There were no non-confidential settlement demands/offers, nor were there any 998s or trial-time discussions.

A passerby made a video of a portion of the arrest incident.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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