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City seeks to settle suits by driver, student

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is scheduled to approve Wednesday two settlements totaling $110,000, including $60,000 to a man who pleaded guilty to two traffic violations stemming from a police chase that led to his lawsuit.

Jonathan Hunt alleged he was walking on a Canton sidewalk in December 2009 when police officers “suddenly and without warning” attacked him from behind. Hunt was taken to the Johns Hopkins Hospital and diagnosed with a broken leg, broken collarbone and three cracked ribs, among other injuries, he alleged. He remained in the hospital for several days before being transferred to a rehabilitation center, according to the complaint.

The city’s Law Department, in a memo to the Board of Estimates, countered that Hunt was driving a vehicle without a valid license the day of the incident and made an illegal right turn at a red light. An officer in a marked police car with lights flashing pulled next to Hunt in order to give him a warning but Hunt drove away, according to the memo. The officer pursued Hunt until a police helicopter and other officers picked up the chase, according to the memo.

David Ellin, Hunt’s lawyer, confirmed the chase and acknowledged his client “should not have been driving.” But Hunt lost the officers driving after him, parked his car and began walking away, according to Ellin. Hunt was still being followed by the police helicopter, however, which alerted officers to his location, Ellin said.

Hunt was “trying to be nonchalant about things” when he was tackled by police, the lawyer said.

Hunt was taken to the hospital, where the officer who first tried to pull him over gave him his traffic citations. He was never taken to Central Booking nor given a statement of probable cause, according to his lawsuit.

The Law Department’s memo did not offer an explanation for Hunt’s injuries but noted there are “factual disputes regarding the use of force in this case” and recommends resolving the lawsuit “economically and to avoid the expense, time and uncertainties of further protracted litigation.”

Ellin, a solo practitioner at the Law Office of David Ellin in Baltimore, said his client agreed to resolve the case for similar reasons.

Hunt, who was 53 at the time of the altercation, now walks with a cane and “suffers from nightmares when he relives the attack,” according to his lawsuit, which sought $5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Court records show that Hunt pleaded guilty in November 2010 to driving without a license and attempting to elude an officer. He was given a suspended sentence of 14 months and placed on one year of supervised probation.

Freshman French

In the second settlement, the city will pay $50,000 to a Baltimore City College student who alleged her nose was broken by a chair thrown by a teacher in April 2010. Jasmine M. Singleton was struck while in Alex Chambers’ ninth-grade French class at the public college-preparatory high school, according to a memo prepared by the Law Department in support of the settlement.

Chambers was banging the chair on the floor to get his students’ attention when it “rebounded” and struck Singleton in the face, according the memo. The lawsuit sought more than $75,000 in damages from the school system for assault, battery and negligence.

 

JONATHAN HUNT V. TIMOTHY BEALE ET AL.

Court:

Baltimore City Circuit Court

Case No.:

24C12006297

Outcome:

Settlement of $60,000 for the plaintiff

Dates:

Event: Dec. 9, 2009

Suit filed: Oct. 25, 2012

Settlement order: Jan. 2, 2014

Plaintiff’s Attorney:

David Ellin, Baltimore solo practitioner

Defendants’ Attorney:

Nicholas E. Johansson of Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP in Baltimore

Counts:

False imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, battery, excessive force, negligence, civil conspiracy

 

JASMINE M. SINGLETON ET AL. V. ALEX CHAMBERS ET AL.

Court:

Baltimore City Circuit Court

Case No.:

24C13001709

Outcome:

Settlement of $50,000 for plaintiffs

Dates:

Event: April 23, 2010

Suit filed: March 27, 2013

Settlement order: April 21, 2014

Plaintiffs’ Attorney:

Austin W. Brizendine of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton P.A. in Baltimore

Defendants Attorney:

Marla Y. Johnson of the legal office at Baltimore City Public Schools

Count:

Assault, battery, negligence