Attorney reacts to possible settlement in lawsuit against the city of Walnut Ridge

Attorney reacts to lawsuit settlement

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - A year since a federal lawsuit was filed against the City of Walnut Ridge, a possible settlement is on the table.

“It’s kind of like high stakes poker,” Adam Finley’s attorney, Mark Rees, said.

It all stems from an incident back in December 2016, when railroad worker Adam Finley alleges he was wrongfully arrested, assaulted, and harassed by Walnut Ridge police.

Finley filed a federal lawsuit in April of last year, asking for punitive damages and a jury trial.

However, a possible settlement has been negotiated instead.

"We think it's a good settlement," Rees said. "We think it's a fair settlement."

Rees said several factors went into the decision to settle, including the lack of compensatory damages, such as medical bills and time off work, and the use of a defense tactic known as an offer of judgment.

"If we go to court and we get less than $40,000, then Adam starts having to pay for all of their costs, which can sometimes add up," Rees said.

Another concern was the likelihood that the city could get out of the lawsuit, leaving the only way for Finley to get compensated being through the individual officer.

"We don't want to sue individuals," Rees said. "Because we know individuals aren't going to be able to pay any kind of judgment."

Instead of taking that risk, they agreed on a possible settlement of $57,500, half paid by the city and half by the Arkansas Municipal League.

"Ultimately, there is no way to know what the case is worth unless it goes to trial," Rees said.

So, what was maybe more important than the dollar amount, was the amount of change they’ve seen since, including the officer involved being off the force and a new police chief leading the department, his attorney said.

"Ultimately, in this case, it sounds like Walnut Ridge has made some changes," Rees said. "Certainly, I think, Adam and I are both happy about that."

Right now, it’s unclear when the lawsuit will officially wrap up.

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