Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

City settles 90-year-old woman’s lawsuit

The Baltimore Board of Estimates on Wednesday signed off on the $95,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed by a 90-year-old former school principal who had her shoulder broken while being handcuffed by police in her home in 2007.

Venus Green, of Baltimore, sought $1 million in damages from the Baltimore Police Department, the Mayor and City Council and the state of Maryland, as well as three individual police officers who were responding to Green’s report that her grandson had been shot at a nearby convenience store.

The officers got into a scuffle with Green when they attempted to search her basement for the victim and possibly the shooter. She was handcuffed and injured after she tried to lock the basement door behind the officers.

Baltimore City Solicitor George A. Nilson said the decision to settle was based on a number of factors — not the least of which was that the Green, at 90 and a former principal, would have presented a very sympathetic case to a city jury.

“She was the classic ‘plaintiff from hell’,” Nilson said.

According to court documents, Green called the police around noon on July 26, 2007, to report that her grandson had been shot. She said the shooting had occurred at a convenience store nearby and her grandson was awaiting medical treatment in the basement of her house, where he lived.

Responding to the call, officers checked the area around the store and did not see any blood or other evidence of a shooting.

That led the officers to believe that Green’s grandson had actually been shot inside her home and the shooter might still be on the premises. On learning that the victim was in the basement, one of the officers wanted to go down and investigate.

Green did not want the officer to go in the basement and told him there were dogs down there. When the officer went down the stairs anyway, Green tried to lock him the door behind him, saying she did not want the dogs to come up into her side of the house.

Nilson said the situation became “chaotic” after Green tried to lock the basement door and make the officers leave her home.

“In her view, there was no reason for them to come into her house,” Nilson said. “In their view, they were entitled to enter the house. They were dealing with a shooting victim and the possibility the shooter was still on the premises.”

Green claimed an officer threw her on the floor and put his knee in her back as he handcuffed her, causing her shoulder injury. She was not charged with a crime.

Young dissents

The city’s spending board approved the settlement — the second of its kind this year — with the only dissenting vote coming from City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who has said in the past that he feels the city is spending too much on police misconduct claims.

In 2011, the city spent more than $1 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits. Between mid-2007 and mid-2010, misconduct lawsuits filed against the Baltimore Police Department resulted in judgments and settlements of $7.25 million.

To stem the losses, the city revised its training and incident follow-up policies last June, Nilson has said.

VENUS GREEN VS BALTIMORE CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT, ET AL.

Court:

Baltimore City Circuit Court

Case No.:

24C10004883

Judge:

Audrey J. S. Carrion

Outcome:

Settlement, $95,000

Dates:

Event: July 26, 2007

Suit filed: June 25, 2010

Settlement: April 4, 2012

Plaintiffs’ Attorney:

Kim D. Parker, The Law Offices Of Kim Parker in Baltimore.

Defendants’ Attorneys:

Ashley C. Moore, Law Office of Ashley C. Moore, in Baltimore; Dale B. Garbutt, Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP

Counts:

Assault, battery, illegal arrest, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and trespass.