March 17, 2014

PBA Applauds Judge’s Order Punishing Man For Lying About Cops

By Mark Toor

PATRICK J. LYNCH: Removes incentive for phony suits.  

KATHERINE B. FORREST: Plaintiff lacked credibility.


The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association last week praised a Federal Judge’s ruling that a man who lost a lawsuit charging that a police beating had caused life-altering brain injuries must pay the city’s legal fees because he made “obviously fictitious allegations.”

Andrew Abeyta, 25, claimed that police officers had handcuffed him on a Lower East Side street and pounded his head against the hood of their car. The resulting injuries meant he could not work, look at a computer screen or tolerate loud noises, and made it difficult for him even to leave his apartment, his suit said. However, evidence introduced at his trial showed that he played video games and visited strip clubs.

‘A Frivolous Case’

A jury ruled against him in November, and U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest said in her opinion issued March 7 ordering him to pay the city’s costs that he had failed to prove his encounter with police had caused any injuries. “This was nothing more than a frivolous case,” she wrote.

Her ruling was first reported in the New York Times.

According to testimony, after celebrating his 24th birthday at a Brooklyn bar last April Mr. Abeyta rode his bike back to Manhattan but damaged a wheel.

He asked the two officers in a patrol car for help, but they said they were busy. He responded, “You really look occupied sitting there doing nothing; thanks for doing your civic duty,” according to the complaint. He said the officers then grabbed him, cuffed him and smashed his head into the car hood.

The officers testified that he appeared drunk and refused their orders to move, so they handcuffed him and called an ambulance. They denied slamming his head into the hood.

‘Only Way to Deter’

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said, “The Federal Judge’s decision to make the initiator of this frivolous lawsuit against officers who arrested him pay all court costs is the only absolute way of deterring these type of lawsuits. We believe that if every court imposed these kinds of penalties against those who bring clearly unfounded lawsuits against the city and our officers, then the financial incentive to sue for a quick payday would be gone.”

Mr. Abeyta’s lawyer, Edwin Sivin, said his client would appeal the order to pay the city’s costs. “I think this is going to have an unjustified and chilling effect on victims of police abuse who seek vindication,” he told the Times.