Mingo civil rights suit settled for $15K

By Lawrence Smith | Jun 7, 2013

CHARLESTON - A Mingo County man has agreed to accept a nuisance-value settlement with the remaining police officers in his lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.

U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, Jr. on April 9 placed Calvin Jerrod Wilkerson’s lawsuit against three West Virginia State troopers and a Williamson Police officer on the inactive docket after the sides announced a settlement. In his order, Goodwin said absent a motion to reinstate it, the case would be dismissed without prejudice in the next 30 days.

In his suit originally filed in Mingo Circuit Court on Jan. 12, 2011, Wilkerson alleged two years earlier Mingo County Deputy Sheriff Chris Haynes, WPD Patrolman John Hall, Trooper B.R. Moore, Senior Trooper C.D. Kuhn and Cpl. S.T. Harper in some shape, manner or form brutalized him when they attempted to take him in for a mental health evaluation at the request of his mother. About a month prior to the settlement, Goodwin granted a partial summary judgment in the case dismissing Haynes, former Sheriff Lonnie Hannah, the Mingo County Commission, WPD and the State Police.

Though he dismissed all claims against them in the official capacities, Goodwin left intact claims of Fourth Amendment violations, outrage and assault and battery in their individual capacities against Moore, Kuhn and Harper and negligence against Hall.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the West Virginia Record, the city of Williamson via its attorney Duane Ruggier II disclosed it and the State Police each agreed to pay Wilkerson $7,500 to settle the case. Without admitting any liability, Ruggier said the city opted to settle the suit out of concern a jury may return a favorable ruling in Wilkerson’s behalf, which could also leave them on the hook for his attorney’s fees.

Also, Ruggier disclosed the payout would be made through the city’s and State Police’s insurance carriers, AIG Property and Casualty and the state Board of Risk and Insurance Management, respectively. The city, he said, incurred a $2,500 deductible in the suit.

According to BRIM, Steptoe and Johnson billed for $33,716.63 in legal fees and expenses to defend the State Police, and the three troopers in the suit. Also, it disclosed it paid $28,685.10 to the Huntington law firm of Campbell Woods to defend the commission and Haynes.

In response to a FOIA request sent to it, the commission disclosed it paid BRIM a $10,000 deductible. Also, it disclosed Haynes left the Sheriff’s Department the July following the altercation with Wilkerson which occurred 10 days after he was hired.

His beginning and ending salaries were $20,400, and $21,600.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, case number 11-cv-783

Mingo Circuit Court, case number 11-C-12

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