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Is $200 Million Too Much For Michael Mineo Ask For?

If the harrowing account of brutality that Michael Mineo tells is true, three NYPD officers beat and sodomized him with a police baton in a Brooklyn subway station in October, inflicting the type of rectal injuries (and mental anguish) we don’t even want to write about. Mineo is now suing New York City for $200 million. That is, we needn’t tell you, a lot of money — but not unprecedented. When Abner Louima was sodomized by police in 1997 while in a holding cell after a Brooklyn nightclub arrest, he sued the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for $155 million; they settled for $8.75 million.

It’s unclear where the $200 million figure came from, but certainly part of it includes punitive damages — the type that punishes the city not for the actual harm inflicted on Mineo, but for permitting the behavior to even happen within the NYPD.

We don’t expect all of you to have passed a bar exam, but using your gut and common sense, tell us: Is Mineo’s demand for $200 million too much? Too little? Or just right?

(And it’d help if you explained your response, too.)

Photo: NYDN

By:           editor editor
On:           Dec 29, 2008
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 31 Comments
    • dvlaries
      dvlaries

      As I recall, when it all played out, Mark Christian ended up being awarded something in the neighborhood of 70 to 80% of Rock Hudson’s estimated $24 million estate. But, after more fighting, I think that was finally reduced to something little more than 5.

      While that case certainly didn’t contain this kind of violence and criminally actionable deeds, perhaps in civil court its commonplace to start out chasing a number far higher than you believe you will ever see a check for…?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Darth Paul
      Darth Paul

      From what’s undoubtedly his lawyer’s perspective, no amount is ever enough.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • nikko
      nikko

      Yes, way too much.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason
      Jason

      He deserves every penny!

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      It’s a good minimum demand. The cops involved, their families and especially the churches they’re involved with should also be sued for all their current and future assets.

      Superstition and ignorance, aka relegion, is the enemy of LGBT equality.

      We need the hate crimes law the Democrats dumped last year so it wouldn’t embarass Obama.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:43 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • seitan-on-a-stick
      seitan-on-a-stick

      The NYPD are out of control targeting gays and anyone alternative. I hope he is awarded all the money.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 11:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • blake
      blake

      @nikko:

      Way too much? He was raped! I don’t care who does the raping, he or she is a scumbag, but for cops to use their position to brutalize someone is even more disgusting.

      Every year, there is a report of NYPD officers committing some horrific act of violence against innocent people. This has got to stop. Look at what happened to the cyclist who was pushed off his bike, beaten, arrested and then charged with phony assault charges by rookie cop. Had there not been a video recording of the instance, an innocent man would be in jail instead of a crooked cop being indicted.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 12:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      My problem is, that they wouldn’t be giving a women who was raped nearly that amount (I”m assuming). Which leads me to believe that they think they can get more for it because it’s associated with “Icky” homosexuality.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 12:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • j
      j

      It is the right amount. A) He probably won’t get all of it B) if he asks for too little, they won’t take him seriously, he seems like a joke or a liar C) If he asks for more he looks greedy and the judge won’t take the case seriously.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 12:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M
      M

      It’s probably the right amount. The $200 million figure isn’t just for damages; it’s meant to send the City of NY a message: get your police force under control or everyone will feel the pain, financially.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ask ena
      ask ena

      Is it fair to assume the amount he wins (if he wins) will have nothing to do with the amount he is asking for, and will be calculated in its own mysterious way by the judge and/or jury?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Don
      Don

      Some day we’ll have to rein in these Dr. Evil lawsuits. “I’m suing your for…$100 BEEEEELLLYON DOLLARS!” Yes he should get damages and suffering and all that, but he’s not “sending a message” when everyone else also sues for ridiculously large amounts. It’s just noise.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • adzomelk
      adzomelk

      not only does he deserve 200 million & every penny of it @that this is one of those crimes which makes me wish i wernt against the death penalty rape is rape & the memory of the assault lasts forever & no amount of money will take that kind of horror away it seems to me purely on an emotional level there isnt a sentence harsh enough for the officers who perpetrated it nor a compensation large enough for the victim

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • blake
      blake

      @Don:

      Are you kidding? If some cops raped you, wouldn’t you sue the holy hell out of them?

      The guy won’t get $200 million. The only way it seems cities don’t take police brutality seriously unless they are hit with these kinds of lawsuits. But suing for an outrageous number with the possibility of a win will force police departments to better train and hire police officers.

      Look, can’t we agree that there needs to be better screening of police officers to weed out sickos? There are just too many bad apples who commit attrocities like this, diminishing the heroic efforts of good cops. Lawsuits like this force police departments to take action.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BrianPrince
      BrianPrince

      … it’s sort of a hit or miss type situation, and it really can be argued either way.

      I can tell you that a good portion of whatever he gets, will end up going to attorneys — it’s likely that he is represented on a contingency basis, where he has an agreement established with an attorney… for something like… 25% if they settle before any court action is taken, 35% if it’s settled in the pre-trial phase, and 50-60% if it actually goes to trial… so I can tell you (from a legal perspective) while there’s an attorney somewhere who is likely getting a pretty penny if this case prevails, there’s likely a huge amount of work involved, too.

      Then you have the actual damages… the physical injuries, pain and suffering, the humiliation and degradation to his person and character… sell your soul for what you will.

      Then comes the punishment… the punitive damages — sometimes, courts are VERY liberal with punitive damages, particularly in situations where there is a greater duty (like defending the public), and that duty has been neglected… because the potential for harm is extraordinary – the punishment, sometimes, must be extraordinary too… in some cases, judges will award just a few dollars for actual damages and hundreds of thousands… or even potentially millions for punitive damages.

      It’s likely that in establishing the figure, the attorneys (or the victim) likely considered the legal fees, the cost of dragging his face and family across the media, the actual damages incurred as a result of the actions taken by the police (and as a result of bringing the police to justice), and some sort of punishment for the legal system.

      There are going to be some pretty large road-blocks to prevailing at this case… unless they’ve got some serious footage on film, or something, to present to the court — one concern that comes to mind immediately is something called sovereign (qualified, or municipal…) immunity. In certain circumstances, public policy prevails, and often prevents reparations for wrong-doings by city officials (including police officers). I think, though, the attorneys on the case may well stand a chance in proving that allowing three police officers to essentially rape a man in the subway isn’t for the greater good of society.

      Because I don’t have the an estimate of the attorney work involved, a copy of the actual medical bills… costs for moving, future medical and psychological treatment… I don’t think I (or anybody else) can really say definitively, whether or not the amount requested is sufficient or not — let it suffice to say that there will be a great deal of work involved from a highly skilled interdisciplinary team of legal advocates, physicians, psychologists, paralegals, and other professionals… struggling to bring the city to justice, and correct this… immense wrong.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 2:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • geoff
      geoff

      Common sense would dictate should he prevail,he’s not likely to get all that money and even if he did, it would be reduced on appeal. Having said that, if he were to recieve all $200 million, I, for one would’nt have a problem with it. My big question is, are the cops being charged criminally?And are the charges appropiately serious, because they should be looking at serious jail time if found guilty.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chloe
      Chloe

      @Cam: If a woman was beaten and sodomized with a police baton in a Brooklyn subway station by NYPD officers I would hope to hell She would sue for 200 million.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul Raposo
      Paul Raposo

      Let’s not forget that Mr. Mineo is a drug dealing, gang banging thug who beats up 14 year olds. As far as I’m concerned, the cops were just handing out some street justice. Money? He should be grateful he lives in a country where he can walk around smoking pot, rather than a country where his crimes are punishable by death.

      From the mother of the brothers who were beaten up by Mineo and his crew:

      But the mother of two teens – victims of an April gang assault in which Mineo is charged – said he got what he deserved.

      “If the cops snapped off that radio antenna up his ass, I wouldn’t give a f- – – about that,” said Laura Boston. Her sons Gerald, 16, and Elijah, 14, were allegedly beaten by Mineo and four others in the Downtown Brooklyn tattoo parlor where he works.

      “My son has dentures because of that man.”

      “Five guys beat up my sons, so it’s right that it took five cops to beat him up. I don’t wish him any harm or anything, but God don’t like ugly. You get what you give, you know.”

      http://tinyurl.com/5m7pzw

      Dec 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ANC
      ANC

      This man suffered the kind of brutality and anguish that NO AMOUNT OF MONEY can ever fix. The best it can do is punish the crooked cops and their negligent employer and pay for his care as a result of the physical and mental injuries he sustained. I say grab them by their legs, flip them upside down and grab every penny that falls out of their scum-lined pockets. Be sure to drop them on their heads after payment has been collected. Furthermore, there’s a much greater chance of his ass getting fixed than there is his head, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a shot at both.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 4:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mark
      mark

      It’d be too little, unless there’s also one night in jail for each cop, and all the other inmates have a walki talki and billy club, see how they like their asses ripped open.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 7:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • blake
      blake

      @Paul Raposo:

      The guy is a scumbag. Thanks for pointing out those facts. Now the mother of the two children he assaulted should sue him on behalf of her children. The guy should get jail time for his own actions.

      However, I don’t care if the guy is a scumbag, police officers have no business handing out “street justice,” a nice euphemism for mob violence and, historically, lynching. There’s a huge difference between being punched and sodomizing someone. When did sexual violence become an acceptable form of punish?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 8:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Anonymous Lawyer
      Anonymous Lawyer

      Okay, a little bit of background . . .

      I’m a practicing attorney in New York state, with some experience with lawsuits against towns and cities.

      The “$200 million” figure is ridiculous. I say this as a cold, practical fact. It’s just a number someone thought looked good on a piece of paper. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of New York civil procedure, a number that is given this early in the process is essentially meaningless.

      The actual value of the case is more complicated. It will involve several considerations: (1) Does plaintiff intend to make federal civil rights claims? (2) Will the municipality indemnify the cops, or will they decide that the cops went off the reservation and are on their own? (3) What are the facts?

      The first two questions we can offer a guess at: (1) plaintiff is almost DEFINITELY going to bring federal civil rights claims. This gets the plaintiff punitive damages and attorneys fees, should he win. Now, punitive damages greatly increase the value of the case, but there are federal constitutional limitations on punitive damages (in case you’re wondering, the Supreme Court hasn’t definitely said what the limits are, but just said that they exist, and are probably a single-digit ratio – that is, less than 10x the “actual” damages). (2) If a town is smart, they might not indemnify the cops in a case like this. Town and city governments are basically required to provide attorneys for, and to pay any damages awarded against, police officers, provided the cops were acting within the “scope of their employment.” For a lot of reasons, there’s evidence that these cops weren’t doing that. For instance, I’ve read that the DA intends to charge these cops with crimes. That should set off a lot of warning bells that these officers weren’t acting within the “scope of their employment.” It gets complicated, but if the town doesn’t indemnify the cops, it’s hard for the town to be hit for punitive damages.

      The third . . . well . . . let’s be honest: we’ll never know all the facts. A cold, hard truth about litigation is simply this — only the people who were there really know what happened. Even the lawyers, after years of interviewing witnesses and combing through documents, will never really know what happened. We, the public who just read newspaper and watch TV, will know even less. But facts matter. The length of the assault, the circumstances leading up to it, the credibility of the witnesses, the medical evidence, all of it matters, and we’ll know almost none of it.

      All that having been said, I’d say you’re looking at high six figures or low seven figures. If that sounds like a big, big range, just remember: there are a lot of different factors, and we don’t have a lot of info.

      Dec 29, 2008 at 9:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kevin
      kevin

      The whole concept of blood money doesn’t set right with me. It’s an archaic concept and has nothing to do with justice. Punish the perpetrators and their supervisors while tackling the root of the problem and making real changes. Blood money lets everyone off the hook and doesn’t solve the real problem. It doesn’t pursue justice, it’s just buying off the victim. Anyhow, what’s the real cost of rape? 200 million? 1 billion? Or is putting a price tag on atrocities simply an absurd and barbaric concept?

      Dec 29, 2008 at 10:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Thanks Paul (comment 18) for pointing that out. Doesn’t excuse the cops of course, but I have far less sympathy for Mr. Mineo now.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 9:10 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ousslander
      ousslander

      very little sympathy for mineo. Of course there have been no convictions. The cops have not been found guilty of anything.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 10:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mister C
      Mister C

      Yeah, @ No. 18 Paul Raposo Thanks for pointing that out also. I didn’t know he was a criminal. So if he gets paid any money.Then the people he harmed go after him and the attorneys will make out like bandits and we’ll all be happy at least they will all end up with something.

      Hey Mineo….KARMA’S A BITCH isn’t it?

      Dec 30, 2008 at 10:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BrianPrince
      BrianPrince

      @Paul Raposo:

      You’re essentially saying that BECAUSE Mineo isn’t a good person, the police shouldn’t be good people, either?

      Thankfully, your logic doesn’t work in the legal system. You can’t pull a mea culpa in the court room and say, “Sorry, judge — I just thought that… because I saw him snatch some old lady’s purse… I could chase him down, take the purse back, and sit on his back, smashing his face into the sidewalk until his brains sort of oozed everywhere… I thought I was doing society a favor.”

      Didn’t your mother ever teach you that two wrongs don’t make a right?

      “@geoff:

      You bring up a really good point — ARE the police being criminally charged for their actions… on a level equal to what you or I would be charged with (or more, potentially, because they actually have a DUTY to protect the public, which they intentionally derelicted)… or are they sitting at home, on cushy administrative leave, receiving their pay checks, and enjoying the free life?

      Dec 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul Raposo
      Paul Raposo

      @BrianPrince:

      Cry me a river, Brian.

      If you listen closely, you can hear the worlds smallest violin playing just for you and your bleeding heart. Where were you when a 14 year old was getting his teeth kicked in by this trash?

      Yes, my mother taught me about two wrongs; but she also taught me that if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword. I personally wish Mr. Mineo a long, slow and painful recovery and all the public humiliation that will go with the exposure of his long criminal past, as he tries to paint himself as an innocent.

      Mr. Mineo was arrested on April 18 at the tattoo parlor on charges that he and four others kicked and punched a man, gashing his head and knocking out a tooth, according to a criminal complaint. Another victim in the confrontation said Mr. Mineo struck him with a wooden stool, the complaint said. A child was in the store at the time, an official said, and Mr. Mineo was charged with gang assault and endangering the welfare of a child, among other charges. The case is still open.

      I find it amusing that all of the current articles are leaving out the fact that Mineo called the cops “faggots”; nor the fact that he refuses to release his medical records to corroborate his story.

      Three good cops–cops who put their lives on the line to keep criminals at bay–will now go to prison and lose their badges, while this garbage is permitted to walk around free. There used to be a time when thugs were afraid of the cops. Now it’s the other way around. Sad.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Paul Raposo
      Paul Raposo

      @Paul Raposo:

      …nor the fact…

      Should have been, “…and the fact…”.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 4:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Paul – Is it possible the cops did what they were accused of?

      I’m not naive of course, this may just be a snow job on the part of Mineo to deflect attention from his own wrong doing.

      Still, there would be no Internal Affairs division or Civilian Review Board if 99% of the cops were clean, right?

      Having said all that, I’m with you “cry me a river, Brian.” Discrediting a scumbag is not the same thing as saying the cops can do whatever they want.

      Dec 30, 2008 at 5:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alex puerto
      alex puerto

      If Mineo has medical evidence to suport the wrong, then 200
      milion would only be a nominal amount for the wrong done.
      see James C. Trezevant V. city of Tampa in the supreme court
      of the United States, for a false arrest (violation of civil
      liberties,1000 dollars per minute) Mineos case is more than
      that it seems to me.

      Jan 15, 2009 at 5:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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