Taser Inc Finally Gets (Some Of) the Punishment It Deserves
Saying that the device manufacturer did not inform police of the lethality of the Tasers sold to the department, a federal judge last Thursday ordered the company to pay the lawyers of the family of a man killed by the Salinas, CA, police department more than $1.4million in damages.
Judge James Ware acknowledged that the $1,423,000 award far exceeds the $183,000 in damages he approved for Heston's family, but said the attorneys had taken on a considerable risk in pursuing a case that served a significant public benefit.
The case marked the first time Taser was found negligent in a death related to the use of its stun guns. In June, a jury awarded Heston's family more than $5 million in damages after finding that Taser failed to warn Salinas police of the potentially fatal dangers of shocking a subject numerous times.
Almost all of that jury award was thrown out by the judge when he determined that the victim was 85% at fault for the Tasering because he was high on crystal methamphetamine at the time. (A lethal Taser chaser with your Tina -- who knew you'd be "asking for it" just by doing some crank?) But because he'd reduced the award to the victim's family, leaving little for the lawyers, the judge decided to make Taser pay the lawyers separately.
To the tune of almost a million and a half dollars.
This may motivate the plaintiff's bar to pursue the manufacturer in other Taser deaths in federal court without regard for likely reductions in jury awards due to the victims' begging to be Tasered by using crystal beforehand -- or by other misbehavior that some judge decides makes the Taser death mostly the victims' fault.
Additionally, the victim's family's attorney de-incentivized Taser's promised appeal: