(CN) – A Puerto Rican woman is entitled to attorney’s fees after prevailing in a lawsuit against police for shooting her son 17 times and killing him, the 1st Circuit ruled.
The trial court ruled that officers Jose Morris Rodriguez and Jose Ortiz-Reyes violated the civil rights of Michael Ortiz de Jesus when they shot him 17 times while he was lying on the ground.
The court awarded his mother, Migdalia de Jesus Nazario, $40,000 in punitive damages but nothing in nominal or compensatory damages. The court denied Nazario’s request for attorney’s fees and court costs, ruling that she was not officially the “prevailing party.”
Judge Howard of the Boston-based federal appeals court disagreed, ruling that the enforcement of the punitive damages award gives Nazario prevailing party status.
“The parties’ relationship has thus been altered in Nazario’s favor,” Howard wrote, “and her success has the necessary legal imprimatur.”