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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fight over Miles verdict continues

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Jordan Miles is asking a federal judge to change the verdict in his civil suit against three police officers. In March, a jury found that three Pittsburgh Police officers falsely arrested Miles, but did not find the officers liable of using excessive force against him.

"Because the jury has found that the Plaintiff was falsely arrested...the jury’s verdict means that the Plaintiff committed no actions which would give rise to a right in the Defendants to use any force whatsoever," according to a motion from Miles' attorney Joel Sansone. "Therefore, all force used by the Defendants in this matter was excessive."

The split verdict was the result of the second trial in the Miles suit against the three police officers — Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing — he says failed to identify themselves before arresting and assaulting him while he was walking to his grandmother's house in January 2010. The officers maintain they identified themselves and approached Miles because they saw him lurking on the side of a house.

The motion asks Judge David Cercone to alter the verdict and to award damages to Miles on the excessive force claim. However, as an alternative, it requests a new trial on the excessive force claim on the basis the court erred in allowing certain evidence to be used in the trial while excluding other evidence.

"These errors include: the Court improperly permitted evidence of the presence of an automatic weapon magazine clip near the incident in question, causally observed by a lay person the day after the incident," according to the motion. "No such magazine has ever been produced by the defense; and the Court refused to permit evidence which would have negatively impacted the credibility of one or more of the Defendants, and would have positively impacted on the credibility of the Plaintiff in the form of testimony from a witness discovered by and proffered by the Plaintiff late in the Plaintiff’s case-in-chief at trial in this matter."

Meanwhile, attorneys for the three officers filed a motion of their own asking that the amount of money awarded to Miles be reduced from $119,016.75 to $8,415.05. According to their motion, $75,000 already paid to Miles by the city in a settlement should be subtracted from the award amount.

"Plaintiff would be unjustly enriched by $75,000 unless the verdict is molded by this amount, as the City has already paid the Plaintiff $75,000 in exchange for its agreement to indemnify the Defendant Officers," the motion says.

The officers lawyers also say the settlement should be reduced to reflect Miles' actual out of pocket medical costs. They believe the jury considered Miles' medical bills, which were partly paid by insurance, in determining the damages awarded to Miles.

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