Last week Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd issued a bench trial ruling that resulted in a $1.1 million verdict against a manufacturer of tear gas. Here is the Clarion-Ledger article on the verdict.

Facts:

In 2006 Jackson police officers used tear gas to flush out three teen-age car thieves who broke into Linda White’s home. I guess Barney and the other deputies got their men. But then:

White and family members entered the home later that night and began coughing and tearing up from the residual effects of the chemicals released in the house, her family said.

Less than two weeks later, White, 42, was dead.

Lewis, executor of White’s estate, testified at trial that the smell of the tear gas was strong in the house a day after the raid.

White went back to the house three or four times for brief visits to try to clean it or to retrieve clothing, according to the lawsuit.

After her last visit, White went to the hospital, complaining of breathing difficulties. She died in the hospital May 8, 2006.

White died of respiratory failure secondary to the acute respiratory distress, according to an autopsy. The autopsy report cited double exposure to chloroacetophenone, an active chemical in tear gas, and capsaic in fumes, the pungent ingredient in pepper spray, as contributing causes to her respiratory failure, according to the lawsuit.

A wrongful death case ensued.

Judge Kidd’s Ruling:

Judge Kidd found the police 50% at fault and the tear gas manufacturer 50% at fault. The basis for the claim against the tear gas manufacturer appeared to be failure to warn and breach of warranty. Total damages were $2.2 million. But with the City 50% at fault, the tear gas manufacturer (Combined Systems) owes $1.1 million. The City settled before trial.

Chris Graves of Jackson represented the plaintiff. David Curtis of New Orleans represented the defendant.

My Take:

This is an example of why Barney had to keep his bullet in his shirt pocket on The Andy Griffith Show. Bad things can happen when you give weapons to some idiots policemen.

The cops used tear gas in a private home and then sent the residents back in and left? Those cops were the kind of guys who use the light of a match to see if the gas tank is empty.