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Verdicts: Pierre Regis v. City of New York

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Verdict: $3,142,000.00
Case Type: False Arrest, Police as Defendant
Case: Pierre Regis v. City of New York, No. 44341/91
Venue: Kings Supreme, NY
Judge: Martin Schneier
Verdict Date: 06-18-1998


  • Glenn D. Miller; Sivin, Miller & Roche LLP; Manhattan, NY



This action arose out of events that took place during the Crown Heights riots on 8/19/91. The incident occurred at the intersection of Utica Ave. and President St. in Brooklyn. Pltf., a 31-year-old light cleaner at a nursing home, and a Haitian immigrant, was a resident of Rockland County. He had been visiting relatives in Brooklyn on the date of this incident, became lost on his way home, and turned onto President St., where he encountered the riot. He testified that he became frightened, and sped up to get past or around the rioters, when he was pulled from his car by police officers who beat him in the head, back, and face with their batons. He was rendered unconscious and was arrested. He was taken to the 71st precinct, where he remained unconscious for 3.5 hours, before someone noticed his condition. He was then taken to Kings County Hospital, where he was treated and received stitches over his right eye. Pltf. was arraigned and released from police custody on 8/21/91, after being detained for 40 hours. The charges against him were eventually dismissed by the District Attorney. Pltf. brought this action for false arrest and excessive use of force. The police officers who beat him were never identified. An Assistant District Attorney of Kings County testified that an accident investigation officer present at the scene told her that Pltf. was beaten by the police to a pulp. This officer testified that he never made that statement to the Assistant District Attorney. Deft. argued that its officers acted reasonably when confronted with a vehicle that was speeding up into the riot area, and contended that Pltf.’s injuries were the result of his car crashing, and from flying bottles during the riot. Deft. contended that Pltf. may have been beaten in his prison cell by prisoners. Pltf. maintained that his vehicle was not involved in any accident, and that there was no damage to his vehicle. Testimony at trial by a retired New York City Chief of Police characterized the police officers’ actions as criminal behavior. For another case arising out of the Crown Heights riots, see, The New York Jury Verdict Reporter, Volume XV, Issue 40, Case 47.


Permanent brain damage; loss of two front teeth; headaches. Pltf. claimed that he has short-term memory and cognitive difficulties. He testified that he has difficulty concentrating and staying focused. Pltf. claimed that his injuries are permanent and that he now has the intelligence of a young child. Neurological testing conducted in 1993 and again in 1998 show that Pltf. is below the first percentile of adult intelligence. Deft. argued that an MRI of the brain was negative, that Pltf. suffered no significant brain injury, and disputed the severity of Pltf.’s claimed injuries. Deft. claimed that Pltf.’s college records preceding this accident indicated that he had a C average. Pltf. claimed that he is unable to work.

Verdict Information: $3,142,000 (6/0). Breakdown: $1,002,000 for past pain and suffering; $1,500,000 for future pain and suffering (38 years); $100,000 for past lost earnings; $375,000 for future lost earnings; $15,000 for past medical expenses; $150,000 for future medical expenses. Jury: all female. Post-trial motions were denied in August 1998. The jury deliberated for 8 hours . The trial lasted 9 days.

Demonstrative Evidence: photographs of Pltf. 6 hours after the incident, taken at the hospital; diagram and maps of the area; audio tapes of police channels and 911 calls; documents from the Civilian Complaint Review Board concerning the incident

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