Personal injury attorney sues Port Townsend for retired reporter

Chalmers Johnson, personal injury attorney, employment lawGSJones Law Group personal injury attorney Chalmers Johnson sues Port Townsend, the police department and the officer who injured his client, a retired newspaper reporter.

Port Townsend police officer threw retired reporter Stephen Patch to the sidewalk and ground his face in the concrete in December 2014. Mr. Patch ended the encounter face down in a pool of his own blood with a broken wrist. The officer was responding to a report from a third party in which Mr. Patch was the alleged victim in an argument with his disabled son. The officer, who can be heard on the police dash-cam recording, explained to Mr. Patch’s outraged son at the scene that he was only trying to protect Mr. Patch from injuring himself. He changed his justification for the attack when he later wrote a report that stated Mr. Patch, a slight 64-year-old man, was threatening the police officers.

$60,000 in Medical Costs

“Once he had broken [Patch’s] wrist and smashed his face into the concrete, Officer Fudally, still lying on top of the injured man, used one hand to grab [Patch] by the head and force [his] face into the concrete walkway and into the pool of [Patch’s] blood,” the lawsuit alleges. Mr. Patch’s treatment cost $60,000.

In response to a letter to the City,  Port Townsend’s insurer turned down the claim, insisting that the officer had done nothing wrong. Chalmers Johnson sued in Jefferson County’s Superior Court, which is seated in Port Townsend, but the City, the Department, and the officer opted to exercise their right to remove the case to Federal Court in Tacoma, avoiding the potential for a local trial with jurors exclusively from Jefferson County. It still remains to be seen whether Mr. Patch receives compensation and justice in this case.

Defendants move the case from a local court to federal court

A case may be removed from State Court to Federal Court when a case involves a federal claim. Practicing in Federal Court requires a separate license. In addition, the procedures in Federal Court are often more complicated than the State Courts. Chalmers Johnson has been admitted to the federal bar for the Western District of Washington and the Federal Appellate Court. He is one of a small percentage of attorneys to be admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Thus, he is comfortable pursuing cases under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He litigated civil rights cases in the Federal Courts for many years.

Mr. Patch worked for several Washington newspapers, including the Port Townsend Leader.