Ky Appeals Court throws out $750,000 settlement stemming from fo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky Appeals Court throws out $750,000 settlement stemming from former LMPD wrongful arrest

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LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) – The Kentucky Court of Appeals has agreed to throw out a $750,000 settlement reached in a lawsuit against the city accusing a former Louisville Metro Police officer of wrongfully arresting a man and lying under oath.

The court ruled that former Officer Delbert Michael Bonzo and his attorney settled a lawsuit filed against him and the city without the approval of Metro Government.

Bonzo and the man he arrested, John Matthew Woolridge, “seek to hold Metro and, consequently, the taxpayers liable for a $750,000 judgment when Metro had no knowledge of the settlement and did not agree to the settlement,” the appeals court said in its ruling, allowing the city to deny payment.

County Attorney Mike O'Connell, whose office is representing the city in the federal lawsuit, said the ruling "lays out the pertinent facts and finds correctly that Metro was not consulted about the so-called settlement and therefore not responsible for paying it."

Attorneys for Bonzo and Woolridge said the city had refused to negotiate a settlement, forcing them to enter into an agreement without permission. This ruling will likely be appealed.

In 2006, Bonzo arrested Woolridge on a domestic violence charge and then began a relationship with Woolridge’s girlfriend, according to the appeals court. While Woolridge was on probation for that case, Bonzo arrested him again for violating the conditions of his release.

But when he testified in court, Bonzo lied about whether he was in a relationship with Woolridge’s girlfriend. The case against Woolridge was dismissed and Bonzo was charged and convicted of false-swearing, a misdemeanor. He quit the police department in 2007.

Woolridge filed a federal lawsuit against Bonzo and the city, claiming he was wrongly arrested, imprisoned and prosecuted.

The city had initially refused to represent Bonzo but later agreed to pay for his defense. Bonzo, who was then represented by attorney Thomas Hectus, reached an agreement in November 2011 to pay Woolridge $750,000.

Attorney Andrew Horne, Woolridge’s attorney, said in an interview Friday that after he brought up a settlement during mediation, the city refused to discuss it.

“Metro government would not even talk about a settlement,” Horne said. “They wouldn’t discuss it in good faith. Our position is you can’t just say you’re not going to talk to us."

However, the appeals court ruling said an attorney for the county attorney's office did respond to an e-mail from Hectus regarding a possible $250,000 settlement, but the attorney received no response.

In an interview, Hectus said he had not yet seen the appeals court ruling and declined to comment on any possible communications with the city.

He did maintain, however, that he believed Metro Government was not going to participate in any settlement negotiations, so "they waived any right to complain about it."

Hectus said the case will now likely be appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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