In early January, attorneys went to trial in Columbia District Court on a case with Section 1983 Claims for excessive force and unlawful seizure against Officer Cameron James Duecker and claims under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act for gross negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and negligent supervision against the Richland County Sheriff’s Office. They won a total of $550,000.
According to the plaintiff, Sheila Webb’s counsel, Luke Shealey, Brian Shealey, Chris Truluck and Caroline Latimer, at the event in question, Webb called 911 to help in a dispute with her brother concerning the use of her mother’s car. When Duecker arrived at Webb’s home, he became frustrated and threatened to arrest Webb for calling 911 for what he asserted was likely a civil matter, plaintiff counsel claimed. Webb then asked Duecker for his name so she could report him for his professional misconduct.
“Duecker then entered her home without permission, warrant, or exigent circumstanced combined with probable cause, and asserted he was going to arrest her for filing a false police report,” Luke Shealey said. “Ms. Webb retreated to her bedroom and got in bed, drawing the covers over her, and told him to leave because she had done nothing wrong.”
According to Luke Shealey, Duecker continued to try to handcuff her, however, after an initial struggle, he tazed her nine times.
Webb was ultimately charged criminally with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest and breach of peace. Those charges were quickly dismissed.
According to Luke Shealey, the Sheriff’s Department’s counsel, Robert Garfield, and Steven Spreeuwers alleged that Duecker was acting outside the course and jurisdiction of his employment with intent to harm. However, Duecker’s attorney, Scott Hayes argued the opposite.
“My client was performing his duties in good faith within the official scope of his duties,” Hayes said. “He did not act with actual malice or intent to harm as asserted by the Sheriff’s Department.”
Garfield and Spreeuwers failed to respond for comment.
The jury reached a verdict totaling $550,000, $50,000 against Duecker for the civil rights claims, and $500,000 against the Richland County Sheriff Department for the South Carolina Tort Claims. They did not find that the Sheriff’s Department was liable for the negligent supervision/retention claims.
Is this a verdict or a settlement? Verdict
Type of case: Civil rights claims under 1983 for excessive force and unlawful seizure. South Carolina tort claims act claims for gross negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and negligent supervision/retention
Amount: $550k total verdict; $50,000 against individual officer; $500,000 against the Richland County Sheriff’s Department
Injuries alleged: Pain and suffering and emotional distress due to being tazed
Case name: Webb v. Lott, in his official capacity as Richland County Sheriff and Cameron Duecker: C/A 3:19-2031-CMC
Court: Federal court in Columbia
Case No.: C/A 3:19-2031-CMC
Judge: Judge Currie
Date of verdict: Jan. 12, 2023
Bench or jury trial? Jury
Attorney(s) for plaintiff and their firm(s): Luke Shealey, Brian Shealey, and Caroline Latimer of the Shealey Law Firm, and Chris Truluck of Truluck Law Firm.
Was the opposing represented by counsel? Yes
Attorney(s) for defendant and their firm(s): Robert Garfield and Steven Spreeuwer of Crowe LaFave Law Firm, and Scott J. Hayes Attorney at Law
Were liability and/or damages contested? Yes
Has the judgment been successfully collected? Not yet