WATCH: Judge Slashes $36.6M Genesee County Jail Beating Verdict

DETROIT, MI — A federal judge has issued a ruling reducing a $36.6 million jury verdict awarded to a man who was pepper sprayed, slammed against a metal bench, shocked with a Taser and kicked and punched while he was restrained face-down at the Genesee County Jail.

Detroit U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn ruled Tuesday, May 23, that, although there’s “no doubt” that William Jennings was the victim of excessive force following his 2010 drunken driving arrest, the trial evidence does not support the $36.6 million award.

Instead, in a remittitur, Cohn settled on the “fair and just compensation” of an $11 million payout to Jennings — $4 million for the past and present damages and $6.24 million in future damages.

Cohn’s ruling significantly reduced punitive damages to Jennings from the five defendants — deputies Patrick Fuller, David Kenamer, Mark Wing, Jason White and Lt. Robert Nuckolls — as follows:

Nuckolls — $2 million, previously $5 million
Fuller – $1 million, previously $5 million
Kenamer – $1 million, previously $4 million
Wing – $1 million, previously $3 million
White – $1 million, previously $2 million.

Jennings has 20 days to accept the remittitur or take the case back to trial.

In his ruling, Cohn also denied the defendants’ request for a new trial in the case.

The Genesee County jail guards charged with $36.6 million for using excessive force against a prisoner have motioned to appeal the United States District Court’s jury decision.

Filed in 2010, the lawsuit alleged the jail officers threw Jennings to the floor, slammed his head against a metal bench, kicked and punched him while he was on the ground, sprayed pepper spray into his mouth and face at close range and placed him in a restraint chair with a hood over his face for several minutes.

Jennings suffered a trauma-induced cataract in one eye, a torn rotator cuff, broken facial bones, nerve damage in one of his hands and a chipped tooth as a result of the beating.

After a 12-day trial, a jury awarded Jennings a $36.6 million in damages.

In March, Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company — which represents Genesee County — filed a lawsuit alleging it’s not responsible for covering damages from the suit.

It’s asking a federal judge to rule that it has no duty to cover the damages or defend the county in the William Jennings case, which was filed in August 2013.

Edward Davison, who represents Genesee County in the insurance lawsuit, said that the judge’s grant of the remittitur does not change the legal basis of the suit. Instead, it possibly lessens the amount that county may be on the hook to pay.

Instead of $10 million over the insurance company’s policy, the county may only owe $650,000, Davison said.

However, the attorney said it’s too soon to consider these possibilities as the ball is in Jennings’ court until he chooses whether to accept the judge’s ruling.

The lawsuit was filed against the deputies and didn’t directly name the county or the jail as defendants, but the county will still be on the hook to cover the verdict against its deputies — most likely because the incident occurred while they were working as jail guards, Nelson Miller, associate dean and professor at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, said previously.


If you haven't already, be sure to like our Filming Cops Page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our sister site Smokers ONLY

Sign Up To Receive Your Free E-Book
‘Advanced Strategies On Filming Police’

About author

Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

You might also like