A man who was initially awarded $76.4 million by a jury after he was shot and paralyzed by a police officer 20 years ago will get nothing except a bill for $100 in court costs, said a ruling by the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, reported by the Associated Press. New York City Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said, “This case became a poster child for the need for tort reform.”
The case began in 1988, when Officer Franz Jerome saw Darryl Barnes running with a Tec-9 semiautomatic pistol. Prosecutors said Jerome identified himself as a police officer and asked Barnes to stop. After a chase, Barnes fired and Jerome fired back, hitting Barnes and causing severe spinal injuries, they said. Barnes has claimed that he was shot in the back at point-blank range after dropping a gun he picked up during a nearby fight with two young men, and that he did not see Jerome, who was not in uniform. In 1998, a jury awarded Barnes $76.4 million, which a judge reduced to $8.9 million. Barnes failed to show up at the second trial in 2003, claiming he was too mentally and physically ill. The jury awarded him $51 million, reduced by a judge to $10.75 million. The appeals judges dismissed the case because Barnes, now 42, stayed away from the trial without showing he was unfit to participate.