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Trial lawyers specializing in personal injury and civil litigation

Officers and police agency are immune from errors resulting in arrest of wrong woman

Paula Ann Milligan was arrested for multiple fraud counts and humiliated when her arrest was televised by a local station.  All charges were dropped a week later when police authorities realized that they had mis-identified Milligan after a clerk failed to cross-check her identifying information with the information contained on the original arrest warrant.  The arrested Milligan had a single traffic ticket in her history that put her name in the "system:"  when it came up, the clerk simply issued the new warrant despite the fact that the age, physical description and address didn't match.  The day after charges were dropped, the local TV station twice aired video of Milligan's arrest and placed it on the station's website.  It was gradually removed at the Milligan's attorney's demand.

The Milligans sued the police agency, the officers who executed the warrant without verifying Milligan's identity, and the TV station.  The defamation and false light claim against the media people was dismissed because under state law, they had accurately reported an official action.  The claims against the police agency were dismissed based on the immunity provided to arrest authorities when performing a "discretionary" task.  The Sixth Circuit held that none of the arresting agency's actions were "ministerial" in nature.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262