Jaqueline Fegan, a traffic ticketing supervisor, recently won a $1.553 million jury verdict against the City of Chicago in a rather unusual civil rights suit. Fegan alleged that police had falsely arrested and battered her after she refused to rescind a parking ticket that a subordinate of Fegan’s had issued to an officer’s private car. The Chicao Sun-Time has the story here, the Tribune, here.
Apparently a heated argument ensued when Fegan refused to comply with the officer’s demand that the traffic ticket be “non-suited” and the officers ultimately arrested Fegan for what they claimed was a jaywalking offense. In the process, Fegan claims they injured her wrist and shoulder and also conspired to cover up the episode by crafting a story that Fegan was the one who was throwing her clout around and had fought back against and injured the officers.
One wonders why the City took the case to trial rather than settle. Perhaps the City attorneys thought they had the moral highground here: police officer ticketed while on official duty? If so, they were sorely mistaken. I would argue that arresting a colleague, especially for the dubious crime of “jaywalking,” after a heated argument about rescinding a traffic ticket, is indefensible before most juries. It’s unclear from news reports how the judgment was apportioned, i.e., compensatory or punitive damages, but I imagine a large chunk of it was directed at punishing the rather outlandish actions of the officers.
If you’re interested in learning more about the case, the complaint can be downloaded here.