Law: Dragging Cities into Court

Generous jury awards are draining municipal treasuries

Paw Paw, W. Va. (pop. 650), is a small town with a big problem. The trouble began in 1978 when the town's lone police officer pulled a speeding truck driver over to the side of the road. The driver said that when he refused to cooperate, the policeman smashed his windows and tried to spray Mace inside. The startled driver put his truck in gear and drove off as the officer shot at the tires. A federal jury concluded that the patrolman had gone overboard and ordered Paw Paw to pay the truck driver $10,500....

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