Fenwick Secures Settlement for Pro Bono Client in Eighth Amendment Excessive Force Case

Mountain View, CA (April 13, 2016) – Fenwick & West secured a significant settlement on behalf of one of the firm’s pro bono clients, a state prisoner who was subjected to excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Fenwick was referred the case through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and Bar Association of San Francisco’s Justice and Diversity Center’s Federal Pro Bono Project.

“This victory is another reflection of our attorneys’ dedication to fighting for justice on behalf of our pro bono clients,” noted litigator Dargaye Churnet, who led the Fenwick team. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to advocate for our client and to reach a favorable settlement on his behalf.”

The client asserted that he was subjected to excessive force by two correctional officers while a third officer failed to intervene to protect him. The officers applied excessive force by repeatedly kicking the client, forcing him to the ground and handcuffing him in violation of the client’s written medical exemptions. These exemptions stated that the client should not be forced to lay flat on his stomach nor should he be handcuffed at his waist due to severe medical ailments.

Once appointed to the case, Fenwick attorneys attended case management and settlement conferences on behalf of the client, worked with the Magistrate Judge to reach a settlement proposal, proceeded with discovery by preparing and serving interrogatories and requests for production on the defendant, as well as scheduling depositions of several key witnesses; and filed a third amended complaint.

With deposition dates near, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation settled the case in favor of Fenwick’s client.

In addition to Churnet, the Fenwick team that worked diligently to secure this win included associates Jon McMichael and Carly Bittman. Litigation partner Lynn Pasahow provided advice and support.

As a firm, Fenwick places great value on pro bono work. Fenwick’s pro bono program includes civil rights, child advocacy and political asylum work, as well as impact litigation.

The firm has received many accolades for pro bono work, including being named to The National Law Journal's 2014 Pro Bono Hot List and recognized by Euromoney as having the best pro bono program in North America two years in a row.

In 2015 alone, Fenwick attorneys and staff completed over 17,000 pro bono hours valued at over $9.5 million in legal fees.

About Fenwick & West
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