CHICAGO (CN) - A federal judge shaved off three-quarters of a $1 million award to the widow of a man whom police held without medical care for two days after a crash.
Donald Wells drove his semi-trailer truck through a bus stop and into a train station in Chicago's Chinatown four years ago, killing two women and injuring 20 people.
After removing him from the cab of his truck, paramedics took Wells to the hospital, but the police brought him to the station just four hours later.
After holding Wells for two days to investigate the incident, police decided press felony charges. Officer John Farrell said he went to release Wells but found the man naked and defecating on himself in the cell.
Farrell testified that he "did not remember any other prisoner who had ever been in less of a hurry to leave."
An ambulance brought Wells back to the hospital, where he died six weeks later of multiple organ failure.
After Ann Wells sued
Chicago and several of its police officers, a jury awarded her $1 million in compensatory damages, and $150,000 in punitive damages.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly decided, however, to reduce the compensatory award, which granted Wells $200,000 per hour of unlawful confinement.
"There was ample evidence for the jury to find that Wells suffered significant physical pain during the time he was detained, as well as intense humiliation and severe mental and emotional distress," Kennelly wrote. "Plaintiff presented a video of Wells confined in a small interrogation room early in the morning of April 26, showing him staggering, lying on the floor and groaning, and urinating in the corner."
After consider all the evidence, the judge said "$1 million for his pain and suffering is excessive."
"Wells was in custody for, at most, fifty-three hours," Kennelly wrote. "And as previously stated, the jury reasonably could determine only that the final five hours of his detention were unlawful."
The jury's award should have maxed out at $250,000, the decision, dated Sunday, states.
Kennelly also voided the jury's punitive damages award, finding that "there was no evidence from which the jury could conclude that the individual defendants ignored Wells's mental state and violated his rights because of evil intent or callous disregard for those rights."
Ann Wells must either accept the reduced compensatory damage award by Sept. 27, 2012, or face a new trial.