The lawsuit filed against two US police officials for assaulting Sureshbhai Patel leaving him partially paralysed is weak and might not be able to get full justice to him, an eminent Indian-American attorney has said.
“The lawsuit filed on behalf of Sureshbhai in its present format is unlikely to get him the justice and compensation and bring the perpetrators to the justice,” New York-based Indian American attorney Ravi Batra told PTI.
Batra, who successfully fought several cases against the mighty New York Police Department, including the high-profile case of an Indian diplomat’s daughter, rued that the 11-page lawsuit filed against Madison police officers has several pitfalls, which makes the case weak.
“Trainee Cop, John Doe, is sued only in his ‘individual capacity’. Even if he wasn’t fired, he has no money to pay damages. Trainer Cop at the scene, Jim Smith, is also sued in his ‘individual capacity’. The City of Madison is not listed as a defendant in any 6 ‘Counts’. There is no automatic Respondent Superior liability for violation of Federal Civil Rights,” Batra said.
He pointed out that there is no claim for supervisory liability of the City of Madison’s Police Department’s Policy and Practice of deprivation of Madison citizens’ or passer-by tourists’ constitutional civil rights.
“The Trainer Cop at no time objected to Parker’s misconduct; neither did the Cop that showed up at the scene. This self-evident glaring omission in the complaint is an admission of substandard lawyering,” Batra said.
Patel’s lawyer Hank Sherrod refused to comment on the merit of the case except for saying “he would soon be filing a revised complaint” and the case is on the right track.
Sherrod argued that the police assault against Patel was not a racial attack. “This case is about police abuse of power and police accountability,” he had told PTI recently.
In a separate interview to the Guardian, Sherrod conceded that the police treatments of Patel would have been different but for the colour of the skin.
“This police officer probably wouldn’t have perceived Patel as vulnerable if he wasn’t a person of colour. But that doesn’t mean [the incident was] motivated by any particular racial hatred,” he told the paper.
Anil Mujumdar, an attorney at the Birmingham, Alabama-based firm Zarzaur Mujumdar Debrosse, argued that Patel is in good hands and exuded confidence in Sherrod’s commitment to vigorously prosecuting this lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Indian-Americans have raised more than USD 200,000 towards medical treatment of Patel, who is currently in a rehabilitation center.
In a related development, Patel’s wife has arrived from Gujarat to Madison to look after her husband.
She was promptly given a visa by the US Consulate in Mumbai as a humanitarian gesture.