Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Insurance company settles police excessive force case. Effect of such practices?

Many hope that money damages under federal civil rights statutes (e.g. 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983) will deter officers and agencies from future violations.  The presence of insurance clouds that picture.  In a case from Florence, CO, the company on it's own decided to settle for a $32,500 payment to a woman who alleged that a city police officer used excessive force when he used a stun-gun on her while she was handcuffed in a patrol car.  The insurer felt that a trial alone would cost more than the settlement figure.  Does this discretion by the insurer hurt the deterrent effect and/or encourage frivolous claims?  If course, the insurance company can always raise its rates and take the risk that they will be dropped.  This is a complex, but important issue.  I don't claim to know what the answer is. How about you?


  1. This is SOP for medical malpractice claims. I recall one physician saying about 1/3rd of his gross paid the insurance premium.

  2. Brewster County's insurance paid out $20-some thousand to the guy who a deputy beat in the jail; legal costs were some $300,000.

    San Diego recently paid out some $4 million for a wrongful "death by cop", as did Phoenix.

    Now we have the forced enema in Deming, NM.

    Seems to me that a list of wrongful acts and the ensuing payouts should be sent to mayors, city councils and county commisioners nationwide. Illustrate what a lack of rational oversight of their law enforcement agencies can cost.


  3. 44 & Art:
    Thanks for your comments. The public should also be made aware of the financial costs of a lack of rational oversight of police. Large cities pay out millions each year for claims and/or insurance costs.