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Baltimore spending board to settle two false arrest lawsuits

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates is scheduled to approve Wednesday settlements totaling $150,000 in two cases where plaintiffs alleged they were arrested and held based on limited or conflicting evidence before charges were eventually dropped.

In a case settling for $100,000, plaintiff David Cofield was arrested on a warrant stemming from an attempted carjacking outside a Park West Health System location in March 2015 and detained for three months pending trial, according to the memorandum about the lawsuit prepared for the city spending panel. The only evidence was a witness identification done without police involvement, and detectives did not disclose to prosecutors negative photo arrays conducted shortly after the incident.

Cofield filed suit alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest, false imprisonment and other state constitutional torts in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.

Cofield also has pending a lawsuit against Park West and the courier who identified him as the assailant, according to attorney Michael E. Glass, because the alleged victim identified Cofield, a patient, from a photo from his medical records shown to him by a Park West administrator.

The claims against Park West, which include negligence, negligent training, malicious prosecution and invasion of privacy, stem from the theory that the health center employees violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act by disclosing confidential patient information to someone who was not a medical practitioner.

“The thing that is so tragic about the whole case is that Mr. Cofield was a recovering addict and had been clean for about two years and was getting his life back together and making considerable progress,” said Glass, a Baltimore solo practitioner. “Park West had assisted him in getting subsidized housing (and) he was about to be placed when this happened. He lost his subsidized housing opportunity, he was evicted from his apartment.”

The case is set for trial in September in Baltimore City Circuit Court, with a hearing next month on Park West’s motion for summary judgment.

“I think he’s disappointed Park West hasn’t accepted responsibility for the part that they played in this,” Glass said.

In the second case before the Board of Estimates, Antoine Casey was observed entering an area police were monitoring for suspected drug trafficking in June 2014, according to the memorandum. The detective observing the vacant dwelling saw Casey enter on more than one occasion, called another officer to help him search it and found suspected heroin.

Casey and the suspected traffickers were not located, and arrest warrants were issued. Casey was arrested four days later and spent 11 months in jail before the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against him.

Casey alleged he was not at or near the vacant dwelling when the detective claimed to see him, and Casey’s GPS monitor, which he was wearing because of a prior conviction, showed he was not there at the time stated in the arrest report. In a lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, Casey sought $2 million in damages for battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and violations of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.

The Law Department recommended the case for settlement due to “conflicting factual issues including the issues presented by the GPS monitor evidence” as well as Casey’s time spent in jail. The settlement is for $50,000.

Casey is represented by Baltimore solo practitioner Isaac Klein, who did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

The cases are David Willie Cofield v. Park West Health Systems Inc. et al., 24C16001915, and Antoine Casey v. Officer Corey Jennings, 24C15004595.

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