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Heather Yakely Secures Trial Victory in Washington

News | August 7, 2019


Kutak Rock attorney Heather Yakely obtained a complete defense jury verdict in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on behalf of Spokane County and three of the county’s law enforcement deputies.

As a result of contact with law enforcement, a plaintiff filed a Complaint for Damages Against Spokane County and three named defendant deputies. The Complaint alleged claims for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and a state law claim for negligence as well as for Respondeat Superior. Ms. Yakely removed the Complaint to the Eastern District of Washington on June 15, 2018.

Facts: On February 5, 2017 plaintiff was reported as a Disorderly Subject. Spokane County Deputies responded, and plaintiff refused to cooperate and quickly became assaultive in his behavior. Plaintiff failed to follow deputy commands and it took three deputies to subdue him. In the process one of the deputies suffered a broken hand. Plaintiff was treated for minor injuries at a hospital and was booked into Spokane County Jail. Plaintiff was charged with two counts of third degree assault and with resisting arrest and ultimately pled guilty to two counts of 4th Degree Assault, charges which resulted from the altercation with the deputies.

Outcome: Plaintiff’s demand at mediation was over $700,000. Ms. Yakely successfully defeated the negligence claim via summary judgment on April 19, 2019. However, this matter went to trial on July 29, 2019 in Spokane, WA on the remaining federal 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims of a Failure to Train against Spokane County and 4th amendment Excessive Force claims against the three individually named deputies. After 3.5 days of trial, the jury came back with a full defense verdict.

Ms. Yakely received pretrial and/or trial briefing assistance from Kutak Rock associates Jessica Pena and Alicia Dragoo.