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Miller had been driving his big rig logging truck home to Florien on US Highway 171 at 5:30pm on July 13, 2007. As he passed through the Village of Hornbeck, Officers Kenneth Hatchett, Jr., and Andy Mitchell, 19, pulled him over because he began speeding up "about 100 feet" before the limit changed from 45 to 55 MPH. Having driven the road for the past forty-seven years, Miller was quite familiar with the speed limit.
"I can see right now you're going to need an attitude adjustment," Officer Hatchett said to the five foot, six inch tall elderly man.
Miller then turned his back on the officers and began walking away.
They threw him to the ground, deliberately slamming his head into the concrete so he could be handcuffed tightly. After Miller's wife bailed him out, Miller went to Byrd Regional Hospital where physicians documented the gash on Miller's forehead, the swelling and bruises and the injury to his wrist and arms. His missed two weeks of work after the incident.
The state court of appeals ruled May 11 that Calvin D. Miller's injuries were only worth $25,000 in compensation.
Beasley found the officers entirely at fault for Miller's injuries and awarded him $25,000 in damages. The officers appealed the ruling, insisting they had full immunity from prosecution. A three-judge appellate panel rejected the claim and upheld the judgment in full, declining to adjust the damages up or down.
"You don't turn your back on a cop," Officer Hatchett explained.
Miller v Village of Hornbeck Case No. 10-1539 (LA Ct. App., 3rd Circ., May. 11, 2011)
The defendants, Village of Hornbeck, Kenneth Hatchett, Jr., and Andy Mitchell, appeal the trial court’s judgment awarding the plaintiff, Calvin Miller, $25,000 in damages for violating his civil liberties and personal injury following a traffic stop for speeding. Miller answered the appeal, arguing that the damage award was abusively low and requesting an award for frivolous appeal. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court’s judgment, deny any increase in general damages, and deny damages for frivolous appeal.