Motions asks judge to reduce judgment in deputies fatal shooting of Lukus Glenn to $300,000

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Hope Glenn holds a photo of her son Luke after hearing the jury's verdict in August. The Glenn's were awarded $2.5 million in damages against Washington County Sheriff's deputies in a wrongful death lawsuit.Attorneys for Washington County have asked a federal judge to reduce the amount a jury awarded a Metzger couple after sheriff’s deputies fatally shot their son outside their home in 2006.

In August, a jury awarded Brad and Hope Glenn $2.5 million after ruling that sheriff’s deputies violated the civil rights of their 18-year-old son, Lukus Glenn, by shooting him eight times in his driveway on Sept. 16, 2006.

Read the motion here

Jurors ruled unanimously that Glenn’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and that then-Washington County Sheriff Rob Gordon ratified the deputies’ actions when he signed the administrative report clearing deputies Tim Mateski and Mikhail Gerba of wrongdoing.

Lukus GlennWilliam Blair, who represented the sheriff’s deputies and the county in the trial, filed a motion on Tuesday asking U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman to reduce the amount Washington County would pay the Glenn family.

Blair said there was no question that Lukus Glenn had experienced pain and suffering when he was shot with beanbag rounds, but the jury should not have considered the pain and suffering of Glenn’s parents when making a decision.

“Oregon law does not recognize or permit recovery of emotional distress damages (pain and suffering) by survivors except in limited circumstances, and even then, not as a measure of damages in a wrongful death action,” Blair said.

Those were the exact terms Judge Michael W. Mosman presented in his instructions to the jury on Aug. 29, however.

Although initial jury instructions reflected Blair’s assertion, Mosman reconsidered the criteria and determined that under United States Code section 1983, the “emotional pain and suffering” caused to Lukus’ parents, Hope and Brad Glenn, was a valid factor. USC section 1983 addresses “civil action for deprivation of rights.”

But Blair stated that the maximum amount the jury should have awarded Glenn’s family was $300,000, about 12 percent the amount the jury awarded.

Blair also contended that Gordon was in the right when he approved an administrative review looking into Glenn’s death.

Gordon did not personally conduct the investigation, Blair said, but relied on an independent investigation under the direction of the district attorney’s office.

“When Sheriff Gordon concluded that the actions of his deputies in this case were consistent with adopted Washington County Sheriff’s Office policy and training, he was saying no more than the facts as presented to him showed compliance by his deputies,” Blair wrote. “That is a far cry from saying that he knowingly ratified unconstitutional conduct.”

Washington County attorneys filed a similar motion during the trial, which was denied.

That denial, Blair said, “allowed that unfair and highly prejudicial straw man to go into the jury room. In so doing, it gave the jury license to not only find liability but also to award an extremely high verdict, knowing that Washington County would be responsible for its payment.

“This cannot be harmless error.”

Lawrence K. Peterson, attorney for the Glenn family, said that the defense had made no motion for mistrial when the jury was instructed to consider Hope and Brad’s suffering.

“They told the jury they were looking for closure,” Peterson said of the county. “The jury gave them a number and they didn’t like the number so they’re not really accepting the closure.”

“The one thing we agree on, it’s time for this case to be over and it’s time to get the county back on track,” he added.

Reached for comment, Hope expressed disappointment at the county’s appeal.

“After years of fighting we thought were all done,” she said. “But we’ll just keep fighting.”

A settlement conference involving the county and the Glenns is scheduled for Oct. 18, with U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez mediating. If the judge denies the motion, Blair will seek a new trial to determine proper damages and may appeal.

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