LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday threw out a $2.25 million jury verdict for a former University of Louisville student who was wrongfully arrested by a police detective 15 years ago.
In a unanimous decision, the appeals court ruled that Tiffany Washington’s lawsuit against the former Louisville Metro Police detective. Crystal Marlowe, the department and the city should have been dismissed by the trial judge because the lawsuit was filed after the state’s one-year statute of limitations.
Washington, who worked in the school library when she was arrested by Marlowe for theft in 2007, filed her lawsuit in February 2010, nearly two years after criminal charges against her were dismissed in May 2008 .
“Therefore, his malicious prosecution claim was premature, as it was filed outside the one-year SOL period,” the appeals court ruled.
The trial judge should have dismissed the case before the jury’s verdict, according to the ruling.
Washington’s attorneys had argued that she did not know the full extent of Marlowe’s actions until she read a Courier-Journal investigation in early 2010, which included an article about her case.
The newspaper reported in a series of articles that the detective arrested more than a dozen people over a two-year period who could not have committed the crimes either because they were already in jail at the time, or because of other evidence proving their innocence.
In December 2007, Marlowe issued an arrest warrant for Washington after the detective said a robbery victim was able to “positively identify” him as one of three perpetrators.
But Washington had bank records, photos, phone records and eyewitness accounts showing she was in Henderson County, 130 miles away, the night of the robbery.
After an eight-day trial in 2019, the jury awarded Washington $2 million in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.
Several other pending lawsuits against Marlowe and the police were also dismissed by the appeals court on Friday over the same issue.
There are a few pending lawsuits that were filed within the statute of limitations.
Attorney Carol Petitt, who represented Marlowe, said she was happy with the decision.
“After a very long and difficult journey, this decision finally gives Crystal the justice she deserves,” Petitt said in a statement.
Attorney John Bahe, who represents Washington and other plaintiffs, said they would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
“While we respect the court’s decision, we are obviously disappointed for our customers,” Bahe said. “We will take the next legal steps for our clients.”
Lawsuits against Marlowe dragged on in court for years on multiple motions to dismiss, but the appeals court ruled in 2017 that there was enough evidence to support the malicious lawsuit allegations against Marlowe for the business is progressing.
The Court of Appeal could only rule on the prescription once the trial was over.
After her arrest, Washington spent five days in jail before her $50,000 cash bond was reduced to an amount she was able to post. A grand jury chose not to indict him.
Marlowe was fired in 2011 by former Chief Robert White for wrongfully arresting several people and is no longer with law enforcement.
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