Police Verdict in Wrongful Death Case

Dale and Kevin Allen obtained a defense verdict in Abston v. City of Merced, et al. (February 24, 2014). Taking place in the Eastern District of California, the wrongful-death case concerned use of a Taser and physical restraint against a man high on meth who: (1) drove the wrong-way down Highway 99; (2) assaulted three officers; (3) was effectively immune to the officers’ use-of-force; and (4) resisted officers the entire time, even after he was on the ground. Mr. Abston, a decades-long meth user with a history of heart disease, happened to pass away after the encounter due to his bad heart. The jury’s unanimous defense verdict resoundingly stated that the officers’ use of force was appropriate and that they were in no way responsible for Mr. Abston’s unfortunate passing.

Abston is Dale and Kevin Allen’s second police success in the Eastern District over the past year. In July 2013, they litigated Williams v. City of Merced, at al. After getting numerous claims dismissed at the motion for summary judgment stage, they litigated the remaining claims at trial. Facing a plaintiff-friendly fact pattern (plaintiff was a double-leg amputee), they successfully prevented a plaintiff verdict. The 8-member jury came back hung, evenly split 4-4. Rather than attempt to re-try the case, Plaintiff opted to resolve out of court, a small fraction of his original demand.

Abston and Williams were both against the same plaintiff’s firm: Law Offices of John Burris.