Cadwalader Secures $3.8 Million in Police Misconduct Jury Trial

April 08, 2024

In a case of true police misconduct, Cadwalader secured a significant win on April 5 for client Stewart Hoban III. Mr. Hoban was permanently disabled in an automobile collision resulting from improper and negligent police action by an officer of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Mr. Hoban was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a minor traffic violation late at night. After witnessing the traffic violation, an unmarked, unknown vehicle began chasing Mr. Hoban’s vehicle. The driver of Mr. Hoban’s vehicle, fearing for his and Mr. Hoban’s safety, sought to escape the unknown pursuer. After being chased at high speeds for 2.5 miles through Washington D.C., the driver of Mr. Hoban’s vehicle crashed into a traffic pole, permanently disabling Mr. Hoban.

Mr. Hoban was chased by an MPD officer in her privately owned vehicle following a traffic violation. The MPD officer had no lights, sirens or other means of identifying herself as an officer. The MPD officer had no communication with MPD dispatch or her commanding officer. MPD rules and regulations prohibit officers from using their personal vehicles for police work, prohibit all vehicular pursuits for traffic violations, and require any vehicular pursuit to have prior authorization.

After 3.5 days of evidence and 1.5 days of deliberations, a jury at the Superior Court of Washington D.C. returned a verdict in favor of Mr. Hoban. The jury found the District of Columbia liable under respondeat superior for the MPD officer’s negligence. The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages plus interest and costs, for an expected total of $3.8 million.

The case was tried by partner Douglas Gansler and special counsel Christian Larson, with extensive support from Paul Rodriguez, Matthew Penfield, Donald Boone, Corey Bowles and Kathleen Connolly.