Series: Lawsuits Against LEOs-Why Do People File Lawsuits?

Okay, Okay. You probably think you know the answer to this one: MONEY! However, that is not always the case. People file lawsuits for many reasons. For instance, I defend a lot of suits by inmates. In many of those cases, they have little else to do! While some people file lawsuits with the hope of compensation, some are looking for answers.

Readers of this blog comprise LEOs at every level of city, county, state and federal government so you are no stangers to lawsuits. In fact, you probably personally know a LEO who has been sued. Maybe you have been sued. In order to understand why people sue LEOs, you must first acknowledge our role in society.

LEOs deal with a varied and somewhat strange sample of society. We bring EMS to the scene and render first aid to the homeless guy who people stepped over for hours and arrest the millionaire for DUI. We respond to domestic disputes, look for lost children and seize the assets of criminals or every sort. In short, we see people at their worst or under the worst circumstances. When LEOs show up, people are generally not happy. When they look back upon those interactions, their perceptions are distorted, they often have unresoved issues and they associate the negative effects of those episodes with LEOs. This explains why the lawsuit often has little to do with the facts and the statements of the plaintiffs who sue often do not match the official LEO report.

Make no mistake: some people sue for money in the hopes of a quick settlement. Some people sue because they truly believe they were harmed. Others sue to change “the system.” Still others sue to find out more about the event that led to an outcome they neither predicted nor intended.

The varied reasons for filing lawsuits should tell you something: most people will not dismiss their lawsuits voluntarily. You should not expect them to go away without a fight. They usually believe they are right and the law requires that they sign their lawsuit to attest to their good faith belief in the allegations. However, as I stated above, they can be wrong for a bunch of reasons.

While knowing why someone sued you will not make it easier to be served, hire an attorney or litigate the case, it may help you prevent the suit before they file. Write clear and detailed reports, go the extra steps to preserve video and other evidence of your actions and do not hesitate to meet with people who want answers after an event. In my experience, the people who are looking for answers make the toughest plaintiffs.

In the next post, we will explore what people seek in lawsuits. Sometimes they want injunctions, sometimes they want money and sometimes they want blood… and the turnip!

Stay safe.

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