Google Search Imperils $7.5 Million Award

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – A juror’s Google search may cause a $7.5 million award to a former police officer to be thrown out.
     St. Louis city jurors awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages and $7.2 million in punitive damages to Tanisha Ross-Paige in March.
     Ross-Paige claimed her supervisor created a mock wanted poster of her that stated: “Subject wanted for having the baddest body in the St. Louis area,” and “Use extreme caution when approaching this subject. Approach this subject from behind for your own safety.”
     During consideration of punitive damages, juror Kevin Hink later told attorneys representing the Board of Police Commissioners, he pulled out his phone and asked Google, “Where do punitive damages go?”
     Hink, citing a Wikipedia page that popped up during the search, found that Ross-Paige would get some or all of the money.
     In affidavits seeking that the case be reopened, police board attorneys claimed the jury instructions were flawed, that Ross-Paige did not present enough evidence to support her claims, and that since the state-run board relinquished police control to City Hall, punitive damages are inappropriate because they “cannot punish or deter the alleged wrongdoer.”
     Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson has scheduled a hearing for June 9. Wilson said he will be the only one to ask questions during the hearing and that the questions will be limited to what influences jurors felt and whether outside influences had an effect on the jury award. Wilson instructed both sides not to talk to Hink until the hearing.

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