Baltimore County seeks new trial in Korryn Gaines lawsuit and reduction of $38M judgment for family

Baltimore County is asking a judge for a new trial in the lawsuit brought by the family of Korryn Gaines, the Randallstown woman killed by police in 2016, after losing a judgment of more than $38 million last month.

The county also is asking a judge to reduce the amount of the award — considered one of the largest ever against Baltimore-area police.

The post-trial motions were filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Monday, but copies of the motions were not available to the public at the courthouse in Towson.

County Attorney Michael E. Field declined to provide copies of the motions to The Baltimore Sun, saying they hadn’t yet been received by the lawyers for Gaines’ family.

The jury of six women who rendered a decision in the lawsuit found that when a Baltimore County tactical police officer fired into Gaines’ apartment during a six-hour standoff on Aug. 1, 2016, it was an unreasonable action that violated the civil rights of Gaines and her young son, Kodi.

Gaines was killed and Kodi was injured in the shooting.

The jury awarded $32.87 million to Kodi in damages, and $4.53 million to his younger sister, Karsyn, who was not present during the shooting.

Gaines’ father and mother were awarded $300,000 and $307,000, respectively, and the Gaines estate was awarded another $300,000.

The awards were for compensatory damages, meaning they were intended to compensate for harm done to the plaintiffs. The jury did not award any punitive damages, which are intended to punish a defendant or deter others from taking similar actions.

The lawsuit was brought by the Gaines family against both the county government and Cpl. Royce Ruby, the officer who fired at Gaines. If the jury award survives the post-trial legal moves, county officials have said the government will pay the award. Ruby will not be financially responsible for any of it, because he was acting in his official capacity as a police officer, officials have said.

Maryland law generally limits a local government’s payout in such lawsuits to $400,000 per plaintiff or $800,000 for all claims connected to a single incident. But there’s no cap on damages under the federal civil rights statute. In this case, the jury found civil rights violations had occurred under both state and federal statutes.

Field declined to discuss the motions his office filed, but said they include a request for a new trial, a request for a judge to override the jury’s decision and requests to revise the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff.

pwood@baltsun.com

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