Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Board of Estimates approves $90K in settlements

Baltimore’s Board of Estimates has agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a grandfather who alleged he suffered rotator-cuff and back injuries from being handcuffed three years ago.

James Dunnigan’s arrest followed the arrest of his grandson in the 2500 block of Washington Boulevard in October 2011, according to a memo the city Law Department prepared for the Board of Estimates.

Dunnigan, who was 69 at the time, had been told his grandson was hit by a police car while riding his dirt bike and was being arrested for using the bike, according to the lawsuit filed in January 2013.

A police officer later testified in a deposition that Deon Dunnigan Jr. had crashed prior to his arrest, but people at the scene said the officer “possibly hit” Deon, according to court documents.

According to the Law Department memo, James Dunnigan appeared at the scene and started shouting to his grandson, at which point Deon asked his grandfather to take his bike. The lawsuit claims Dunnigan attempted to photograph the scene, prompting Officer Latasha McBride to shove him in the chest.

McBride, according to the Law Department memo, ordered Dunnigan to stay away from the scene three times, prompting his arrest “without incident.” The arrest caused a gathering crowd “to become louder and more unruly,” according to the memo. Dunnigan contended the crowd was already at the scene and that he was arrested for attempting to take pictures, according to court documents.

James Dunnigan was charged with disorderly conduct, failure to obey a lawful order and hindering/obstructing an arrest. Charges were dropped days later, according to court documents.

At the time of his arrest, Dunnigan was still recovering from surgery in early 2011 to repair his left rotator cuff, according to court documents. Dunnigan alleges McBridge “forcefully wrenched” his left arm behind his back to handcuff him and was “nonplussed” by his warning that he could not move his arm that far because of his surgery, according to court documents.

Dunnigan’s lawsuit alleges he was kept in handcuffs for more than five hours while waiting in a holding cell. Doctors later diagnosed a new tear in his rotator cuff as well as a “traumatic injury” in his back, both of which required corrective surgeries, according to court documents.

The Law Department memo claims that when Dunnigan arrived at the police station “he complained of pain but stated he would get medical treatment himself.”

The memo said the settlement was agreed to “because of disputed factual issues” as well as “the uncertainties and unpredictability of jury verdicts.” The settlement order was signed June 16, according to online court records, one week after a trial had been scheduled to begin.

Anton L. Iamele of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore, Dunnigan’s lawyer, did not respond to requests for comment.

Fitness-for-duty

Also Wednesday, the Board of Estimates approved a $40,000 settlement with a Department of Public Works engineer who alleged she was sent for a fitness-for-duty evaluation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Johnson was sent for the evaluation a few months after undergoing surgery for a non-work-related injury.

Johnson filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which gave Johnson permission to sue but did not file an action on her behalf.

Confidentiality provisions of the ADA prevent the EEOC from releasing any information about Johnson’s claims.

JAMES DUNNIGAN V. OFFICER L. MCBRIDE AL.

Court:

Baltimore City Circuit Court

Case No.:

24C13000306

Outcome:

Settlement of $50,000 for plaintiff

Dates:

Incident: Oct. 28, 2011

Suit filed: Jan. 15, 2013

Settlement order: June 16, 2014; Board of Estimates approval Oct. 15, 2014.

Plaintiff’s Attorney:

Anton L. Iamele of Iamele & Iamele LLP in Baltimore

Defendant’s Attorneys:

Dennis M. Robinson Jr., Merrilyn E. Ratliff, Nicholas E. Johansson and Christopher C. Jeffries of Whiteford Taylor Preston LLP in Baltimore

Counts:

False arrest, false imprisonment, battery, violation of Maryland Declaration of Human Rights


About Danny Jacobs

Danny Jacobs is the legal editor at The Daily Record. He previously covered trial courts at the state and local levels and served as web editor.