Judge lowers damages from Hillsboro police shooting
A U.S. District Court judge has reduced the amount of money to be awarded to a Portland man shot by Hillsboro police, after a federal jury reportedly awarded the man too much money.
Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled Jan. 1 to reduce the jury award for a Adalberto Flores-Haro to $1.13 million after he was shot several times outside his Portland home. The ruling comes nearly a year after a jury awarded Flores-Haro $5 million in damages following the incident.
Hillsboro police and Washington County sheriff's deputies were outside Flores-Haro's North Portland home in March 2012 when he was shot.
Officers were reportedly on their way to serve a search warrant a few houses down, and cut through Flores-Haro's yard. Flores-Haro, believing intruders were trespassing on his property, stepped out of his home with a gun. Two Washington County deputies and a Hillsboro police officer shot the man five times.
According to The Oregonian, which first broke news about the change in verdict, a jury ruled last February the city and county were negligent in their duties when the deputies failed to identify themselves. They were also convicted of battery in the shooting.
At issue is the Oregon Tort Claims Act, which limits the amount of money a city or county is able to pay out in lawsuits.
Mossman said despite being shot several times, the damage should be counted as a single "harm" under the law, because the incident happened during a single moment in time.
"(Flores-Haro's attorneys) argued that there were two accidents or occurrences in this case, one arising from the battery and one arising from the negligence," Mosman wrote."...The court determined that more than one accident occurs when an initial event is interrupted in some way 'such as by time, distance, cause or a combination of the three.'"
Mosman said because the shots occurred in a single moment, the shots are considered as a single "harm" for the purposes of determining the Oregon Tort Claims Act. That meant that jurors should have chosen either battery or negligence in their verdict, not both.
After the error was discovered, Mosman reportedly gave Flores-Haro two options: Either retry his case or select damages from either the battery award or the negligence award.
The judge limited the damage to $1.13 million, saying the law limits a Hillsboro and Washington County's liability to $566,700 apiece.
Mosman said the $1.1 million dollars was still considered a "substantial" award, under the law.
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