San Diego seeks to void $85M award in sheriff restraint case

Apr 30, 2022, 2:11 AM | Updated: 3:38 pm
FILE - This undated photo provided by the United States District Court shows Lucky Phounsy. San Die...

FILE - This undated photo provided by the United States District Court shows Lucky Phounsy. San Diego County lawyers are seeking to wipe out an $85 million jury award to the family of Phounsy, who died after being restrained by sheriff's deputies in 2015, or get a new trial in the lawsuit that generated the case. (United States District Court via AP, File)

(United States District Court via AP, File)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County lawyers are seeking to wipe out an $85 million jury award to the family of man who died after being restrained by sheriff’s deputies in 2015, or get a new trial in the lawsuit that generated the case.

County lawyers contend the verdict stemming from the negligence and wrongful death lawsuit was “incurably infected with error” and that the trial was riddled with rulings that hurt the county’s case.

The request is detailed in motions filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego earlier this month by county lawyers. They are the first moves in what will likely be a protracted fight to reduce or completely overturn the verdict returned March 15 in favor of the family of Lucky Phounsy.

One motion asks U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff to set aside the verdict, contending the evidence was not sufficient to support the jury’s conclusion, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A second seeks a new trial, or a reduction in the award, arguing there were a series of trial errors and that the amount awarded was excessive.

Phounsy, 32, died after being hogtied, shocked him with a stun gun and restrained by San Diego Sheriff’s Department deputies at the Santee home of a relative on April 13, 2015. Phounsy’s heart stopped on the way to the hospital. He was resuscitated, but died several days later.

The county medical examiner concluded his death was accidental and the result of the long struggle with deputies, combined with the effects of the drug ecstasy he had taken several days before.

But lawyers for the family disputed that conclusion and argued that the conduct of the deputies caused him to suffocate to death.

They pointed to deputies binding Phounsy’s hands and ankles in restraints, failing to monitor his vital signs and continuing to restrain him when one deputy forcibly held his head down while he was in an ambulance.

The case was tried twice in federal court. In September a jury deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. At a second trial held in March, after only a day of deliberation, the jury found the county liable and awarded Phounsy’s family $85 million.

Lawyers for the family must still file their arguments opposing the county motions. In a statement, attorneys Mark Fleming and Timothy Scott said the county is still evading responsibility for Phounsy’s death.

“The rehashed arguments raised by the County have already been rejected” by courts several times,” said Scott. Fleming said that the bid to cut the money award disrespects “both the value of Lucky’s life and the enormity of his loss to his family, as well as the hard work and careful consideration of the jury.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Evelyn Knapp, a supporter of former President Donald, waves to passersby outside of Trump's Mar-a-L...
Associated Press

Trump legal woes force another moment of choosing for GOP

From the moment he rode down the Trump Tower escalator to announce his first presidential campaign, a searing question has hung over the Republican Party: Is this the moment to break from Donald Trump?
16 hours ago
FILE - The Silicon Valley Bank logo is seen at an open branch in Pasadena, Calif., on March 13, 202...
Associated Press

Army of lobbyists helped water down banking regulations

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Red-state Democrats facing grim reelection prospects would join forces with Republicans to slash bank regulations — demonstrating a willingness to work with President Donald Trump while bucking many in their party.
16 hours ago
FILE - This Sept. 2015, photo provided by NOAA Fisheries shows an aerial view of adult female South...
Associated Press

Researchers: Inbreeding a big problem for endangered orcas

People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest's endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.
2 days ago
FILE - Hiring signs are displayed at a grocery store in Arlington Heights, Ill., Jan. 13, 2023. Emp...
Associated Press

Pay transparency is spreading. Here’s what you need to know

U.S. employers are increasingly posting salary ranges for job openings, even in states where it’s not required by law, according to analysts with several major job search websites.
2 days ago
Meadowdale High School 9th grade students Juanangel Avila, right, and Legacy Marshall, left, work t...
David Klepper and Manuel Valdes, Associated Press

Seattle high school teacher advocates for better digital literacy in schools

Shawn Lee, a high school social studies teacher in Seattle, wants to see lessons on internet akin to a kind of 21st century driver's education, an essential for modern life.
2 days ago
South Carolina Senators hear from the parents of people who died from fentanyl overdose on Jan. 19,...
Associated Press

With overdoses up, states look at harsher fentanyl penalties

State lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing harsher penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
San Diego seeks to void $85M award in sheriff restraint case