This is different. A victim’s attorney went to work for him.
Palm Beach Post reports:
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Adams Lin watched helplessly on Saturday as federal marshals seized his personal belongings — including his car, clothes, television and furniture — to help pay the expenses of a 23-year-old man he shot, paralyzing him for life.
Attorney Jack Scarola, who won a $22.4 million jury verdict for Dontrell Stephens last year, said he got permission from a federal magistrate to seize Lin’s property to pay off the judgment that was against both the deputy and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
“It doesn’t give me any joy to do this,” he said. “This was not a happy morning spent on Saturday. It was something we did because we felt an obligation to protect my client’s interest. My client remains destitute.”
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, he said, could have spared Lin the pain and embarrassment of watching his car loaded on a flatbed and his furniture and clothes carted away in a moving van by simply paying Stephens the $200,000 he is legally obligated to pay.
“The sheriff was offered the opportunity to protect his employee and avoid the seizure,” Scarola said. “He declined not to do it.”
But, Scarola said, there is still time. Before Lin’s property is put up for public auction, he said Bradshaw could agree to pay Stephens while the sheriff continues to appeal the verdict.
Bradshaw wasn’t immediately available for comment. Attorney Steven Ellison, who represents Lin, declined comment.
Scarola readily admitted he is playing “hardball” with Bradshaw. At auction, Lin’s used furniture, golf clubs, fishing rods and computer, won’t generate much cash. “If I can collect $100 for Dontrell Stephens, I’ll collect $100 for Dontrell Stephens,” he said.
Scarola already went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to seize Lin’s wages for Stephens. U.S. Magistrate Barry Seltzer denied the request because Lin provides more than 50 percent of the support for his young daughter which exempts his salary from garnishment.
However, Scarola said, the law clearly allows him to ask that Lin’s personal property be seized. He said he got the approval in a private meeting with a federal magistrate. The proceedings, by law, are secret so property authorized for seizure doesn’t disappear.
“It was very obvious that it came not just as a surprise but as a great shock to him,” Scarola said.
Stephens, who grew up in poverty and never finished high school, was awarded $22.4 million by a federal jury that agreed Lin used excessive force in 2013 when he shot Stephens minutes after stopping him for riding his bicycle erratically in morning rush-hour traffic on Haverhill Road. The sheriff’s office is also responsible for the verdict.
In October, Stephens was arrested for selling marijuana, cocaine and heroin to a confidential informant. He was released from the Palm Beach County jail to Neulife Rehabilitation in Mount Dora where he remains.
Despite the multi-million-dollar verdict, the most Bradshaw could be forced to pay Stephens is $200,000. Under Florida law, that is the most governments can be forced to pay for wrongdoing. To get more, Scarola would have to persuade the state legislature to pass a claims bill, lifting the cap.
Scarola said Bradshaw should pay Stephens the first installment.
“The sheriff’s office put Dontrell Stephens in a wheelchair for life and they know the desperate circumstances he is in,” he said. “There is no legal justification for refusing that first $200,000. None.”
Video of the Shooting Below:
Lin received a promotion shortly after the shooting.