Zuckerman Spaeder Secures Settlement for Pro Bono Client Attacked by Police Dog in Excessive Force Civil Rights Case
Zuckerman Spaeder obtained a significant civil rights settlement from the Baltimore County Police Department on behalf of a pro bono client who was attacked by a police dog and denied adequate medical treatment. The United States District Court for the District of Maryland had referred the case to the firm through the court’s pro bono program.
The case involved claims that officers of the Baltimore County Police Department, without warning or justification, released a police dog to attack the client and the dog repeatedly bit him even after he surrendered. After officers finally ended the attack—by prying the dog’s jaw’s open with a metal baton—they took the client into custody. Officers then failed to provide timely medical care despite the severity of the wounds, which caused the client to suffer permanent physical injuries.
The client originally filed the case without attorney representation in 2016, and the case was referred to Zuckerman Spaeder two years later. As part of their vigorous representation, Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys filed an amended complaint naming ten defendants, deposed nearly twenty witnesses, and obtained thousands of pages of discovery relating to the dog’s training, the department’s use of force policies, and police officer personnel files. In addition, the firm, with the help of the client, identified other individuals who reported suffering unnecessary injuries because of Baltimore County police dog attacks, in one case from the same poorly-trained dog. The firm also successfully defeated the County’s motion to have the case transferred to a different Judge.
As a result of the firm’s representation, the County settled the case in favor of Zuckerman Spaeder’s client. In addition to securing a positive outcome, the case provided associates the opportunity to develop practical litigation experience. Associates on the case took and defended every deposition, including depositions of police officers and expert witnesses.
The Zuckerman Spaeder team was led by Avery Pollard and Kyle Crawford, with assistance from Kate Duval. This representation is part of the firm’s long-standing dedication to community service, which includes a commitment by all D.C.-based partners, counsel and associates to devote at least four percent of their billable hours per year to representing low-income individuals or organizations that represent them.