Best legal defense for LEOs in civil suits?

Best legal defense for LEOs in civil suits?

This is a discussion on Best legal defense for LEOs in civil suits? within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I'm a State Trooper and am wondering if anyone is aware of a legal resource for cops who want defense in civil suits. We have ...

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    Member Array 9mm Lassiter's Avatar
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    Best legal defense for LEOs in civil suits?

    I'm a State Trooper and am wondering if anyone is aware of a legal resource for cops who want defense in civil suits. We have a union in my state that will provide legal defense for every hearing if you submit $16 out of each paycheck, but for various reasons I'm not interested in being a member. While my agency will provide defense if we get sued in the line of duty, they won't necessarily represent us at every hearing. I wanted to ask if anyone knows of any organizations that cops can join that will provide defense for such situations. Thanks.
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    VIP Member Array Ghost1958's Avatar
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    I would think someone in your dept could steer you in the right direction. Im sure your not the only ST that has a question about that.
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    Member Array 9mm Lassiter's Avatar
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    I've asked around a bit but most guys join the union for the legal defense alone it seems.
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    Senior Member Array mulle46's Avatar
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    $16 every check? 32or 64amonth? Why aren't you joining the union? They aren't influential? Too political?
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    Senior Member Array KBSR's Avatar
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    Before I retired, most everyone I knew carried Professional Liability Insurance. That insurance, purchased from Wright & Company I believe, provided a million dollar insurance policy, from which you could hire an attorney of your choosing, should you get jammed up in the performance of your duty. The cost was over 400 bucks a year, probably closer to 6, but our agency would reimburse each employee half of the fee.

    As a federal agent, the U.S. Attorney is "supposed" to act as our attorney, in any civil action, deemed within the scope of our duties. This is all well and good, until you have to put it into practice.

    First of all, when your interests and the interests of the government part ways, the government isn't going to lose any sleep over not helping you. I've seen it happen. Secondly, who do you think would be given the responsibility to defend you, within that U.S. Attorney's office? If you guessed the least competent trial attorney in the office, you would be correct. Do you really want that kind of help? I don't. If I'm in trouble, I want the BEST, not the cheapest. (And I hate attorneys for the most part).

    Good luck.
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    In my experiene the best civil protection for a police officer acting in the line of duty is indemnification. I say this as a police officer who has been sued several times, and for several million dollars. Most people who sue dont do it for justice. They and their attornies do it for money. They usually go after the deepest pockets around. This is usually the municipality, or the state. In my experience they sue the Officer as a matter of course but the target is the "Deep pockets" In a civil suit the respondant (The officer and his employer) may be assigned a % of responsibility for the incident. The trick is to get the higher % to be owned by the employer who can access a lot more money than an officer could in several life times.

    With indemnification the employer (state municipality) takes ownership of the officers actions on their behalf. As long as the officer was acting A) within the scope of his duties as an officer, B) The officer was acting within the law. Again this is the best for an Officer. This benifits both the Officer and the employer as their interests, and responsibilities are merged, and the employer who is probably most capable of mounting a rigorus defense does so, at no expense to the officer. In my case indemnification was a matter of contract. Indemnification is something that you may want to ask about at the legal office that represents your employer.

    Having enjoyed indemnification, I never looked into any further protection. However federal officers I've worked with had personally purchased tort insurance. This is something you may want to discuss with your insurer, or perhaps your employers insurer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBSR View Post
    Before I retired, most everyone I knew carried Professional Liability Insurance. That insurance, purchased from Wright & Company I believe, provided a million dollar insurance policy, from which you could hire an attorney of your choosing, should you get jammed up in the performance of your duty. The cost was over 400 bucks a year, probably closer to 6, but our agency would reimburse each employee half of the fee.

    As a federal agent, the U.S. Attorney is "supposed" to act as our attorney, in any civil action, deemed within the scope of our duties. This is all well and good, until you have to put it into practice.

    First of all, when your interests and the interests of the government part ways, the government isn't going to lose any sleep over not helping you. I've seen it happen. Secondly, who do you think would be given the responsibility to defend you, within that U.S. Attorney's office? If you guessed the least competent trial attorney in the office, you would be correct. Do you really want that kind of help? I don't. If I'm in trouble, I want the BEST, not the cheapest. (And I hate attorneys for the most part).

    Good luck.
    Even in non-LE Federal employment, the instant "they" think they can find fault with what you have done
    and make a case that you acted outside the scope of your employment or in violation of any law, they will
    drop you like a hot potato. I wouldn't even trust them to defend me in an auto accident while
    driving Uncle's car on duty. We once got a huge number of memos and directives which basically
    said you are on your own, buy your own liability insurance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    In my experiene the best civil protection for a police officer acting in the line of duty is indemnification. I say this as a police officer who has been sued several times, and for several million dollars. Most people who sue dont do it for justice. They and their attornies do it for money. They usually go after the deepest pockets around. This is usually the municipality, or the state. In my experience they sue the Officer as a matter of course but the target is the "Deep pockets" In a civil suit the respondant (The officer and his employer) may be assigned a % of responsibility for the incident. The trick is to get the higher % to be owned by the employer who can access a lot more money than an officer could in several life times.

    With indemnification the employer (state municipality) takes ownership of the officers actions on their behalf. As long as the officer was acting A) within the scope of his duties as an officer, B) The officer was acting within the law. Again this is the best for an Officer. This benifits both the Officer and the employer as their interests, and responsibilities are merged, and the employer who is probably most capable of mounting a rigorus defense does so, at no expense to the officer. In my case indemnification was a matter of contract. Indemnification is something that you may want to ask about at the legal office that represents your employer.

    Having enjoyed indemnification, I never looked into any further protection. However federal officers I've worked with had personally purchased tort insurance. This is something you may want to discuss with your insurer, or perhaps your employers insurer.
    I've never been sued in my employment -- no contact with the public-- but I've seen way too many
    memos and directives indicating that if "they" can find a way to put even a tiny bit of blame on you they
    will drop you like a hot potato. We were personally responsible for not violating various workplace and environmental
    laws yet often were not given the authority or the resources to make sure those were followed. Had it hit the fan
    Uncle's lawyers would have said, 'you broke the law,' 'you are on your own buddy.' And by the way,
    YOU'RE FIRED.
    Last edited by Hopyard; February 22nd, 2013 at 11:34 AM. Reason: your to your're
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    I think it's a load of bovine manure that your department expects you to join a union so you'll have some defense for on the job related civil matters. It should be in their interest to protect you from those sorts of actions...

    I agree with checking your options on Professional Liability insurance. It may not be the least expensive way to get protection, but I would agree that your defense should be based on competency.
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    Distinguished Member Array phreddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    In my experiene the best civil protection for a police officer acting in the line of duty is indemnification. I say this as a police officer who has been sued several times, and for several million dollars. Most people who sue dont do it for justice. They and their attornies do it for money. They usually go after the deepest pockets around. This is usually the municipality, or the state. In my experience they sue the Officer as a matter of course but the target is the "Deep pockets" In a civil suit the respondant (The officer and his employer) may be assigned a % of responsibility for the incident. The trick is to get the higher % to be owned by the employer who can access a lot more money than an officer could in several life times.

    With indemnification the employer (state municipality) takes ownership of the officers actions on their behalf. As long as the officer was acting A) within the scope of his duties as an officer, B) The officer was acting within the law. Again this is the best for an Officer. This benifits both the Officer and the employer as their interests, and responsibilities are merged, and the employer who is probably most capable of mounting a rigorus defense does so, at no expense to the officer. In my case indemnification was a matter of contract. Indemnification is something that you may want to ask about at the legal office that represents your employer.

    Having enjoyed indemnification, I never looked into any further protection. However federal officers I've worked with had personally purchased tort insurance. This is something you may want to discuss with your insurer, or perhaps your employers insurer.
    Indemnification is great as long as you both have the same interests. The risk is that the other party controls all decisions in your defense. If their interest vary from yours (they would rather settle, and you want to fight or vice versa) you are at their mercy. Also, unless they are also paying for your defense along with the indemnification, they can wrack up some pretty hefty legal bills that you will have to pay.
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    His department doesn't expect him to join a union or to buy his own liability insurance. It is his
    choice to trust his employer to protect him or not.

    The problem is that his interests and the employer's
    interests might (will) conflict. So he DOES need additional protection.

    Likely the least expensive way to get that additional protection, and also to get some additional benefits
    would be to join the union, but since he
    doesn't want to do that, he should be looking into purchasing his own insurance.

    My guess is that it will cost him far more to do that than to join the Union. Its not politics its the power
    of buying insurance on a massive scale. The individual buyer of insurance is always at a disadvantage
    to those buying through a group affiliation.
    If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.
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    In Alabama I am protected as long as my actions were part of my official duty. Our union only represents us if the State takes action against us. At least this is I I believe that it works
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    Member Array 9mm Lassiter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX expat View Post
    I think it's a load of bovine manure that your department expects you to join a union so you'll have some defense for on the job related civil matters. It should be in their interest to protect you from those sorts of actions...
    Like I said, they will defend me against civil suits in the course of duty, but there are often times multiple hearings and they won't send someone to each one necessarily.

    Thanks for these suggestions guys. I appreciate it.
    TX expat likes this.
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    Distinguished Member Array phreddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Secret Spuk View Post
    In my experiene the best civil protection for a police officer acting in the line of duty is indemnification. I say this as a police officer who has been sued several times, and for several million dollars. Most people who sue dont do it for justice. They and their attornies do it for money. They usually go after the deepest pockets around. This is usually the municipality, or the state. In my experience they sue the Officer as a matter of course but the target is the "Deep pockets" In a civil suit the respondant (The officer and his employer) may be assigned a % of responsibility for the incident. The trick is to get the higher % to be owned by the employer who can access a lot more money than an officer could in several life times.

    With indemnification the employer (state municipality) takes ownership of the officers actions on their behalf. As long as the officer was acting A) within the scope of his duties as an officer, B) The officer was acting within the law. Again this is the best for an Officer. This benifits both the Officer and the employer as their interests, and responsibilities are merged, and the employer who is probably most capable of mounting a rigorus defense does so, at no expense to the officer. In my case indemnification was a matter of contract. Indemnification is something that you may want to ask about at the legal office that represents your employer.

    Having enjoyed indemnification, I never looked into any further protection. However federal officers I've worked with had personally purchased tort insurance. This is something you may want to discuss with your insurer, or perhaps your employers insurer.
    Are you sure you don't mean subrogation? That is actually what my response should refer to. Indemnification is the act of resolving someone else of the legal responsibility of your actions (taking the blame). Subrogation is giving the rights to make legal decisions to someone else.

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Something you might want to look into is just paying the "agency fee" for the union. It is something they are required to do but don't like to talk about much. It is reduced dues that are calculated so you are not paying for any political activity by the union. All you are paying for is the services they provide for collective bargaining and legal issues.
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