It could happen to you. You respond to the scene of an incident, arriving as matters are all wrapped-up. The bad guy is in handcuffs and secure. You stay on scene for 5 minutes, waiting for everyone else to leave. You show-up, do nothing but be present and then you get sued in federal court two years later. This scenario frequently plays out because you, as a responding police officer, get your name written in an arrest report as being present. Looking at the lawsuit complaint, you read about your illegal arrest, search and excessive force. There are no details as to your conduct, but you are lumped in with the all of the other police officers whose names were in the report. You are dumbfounded — how could this happen?
Unfortunately, this happens all too often. The arrested hires an uninformed lawyer who sues everyone named in the report without looking into the facts of the case or investigating, or even asking who did what to whom. This recently happened to a Fall River Police Sergeant who made a wise decision some years earlier to join the MPA Legal Defense Fund. The Sergeant contacted MPA LDF counsel who filed a motion to dismiss the suit with the court shortly after service of the complaint. The well-crafted motion filed on behalf of the Sergeant compelled the federal judge to dismiss him as a defendant from the complaint. Meanwhile, several other similarly situated police officers represented by other counsel remain in the lawsuit. Civil rights law suits can linger for a couple of years in federal court, sometimes often longer in Superior Court.
Protect yourself for situations when you actually do nothing regarding an arrest, a search, a seizure or an alleged use of excessive force, where your only connection is your after-the-fact arrival to a scene and your name is added to an arrest report. Many lawyers don’t do their jobs– like investigating and then naming only the involved parties. Do the job that is beneficial to both you and your family — protect your time and assets by joining the MPA Legal Defense Fund for $250.00 for a whole year of individualized legal representation. Do it today.