Providence and Worcester Railroad Held Liable for Arrest

WORCESTER, Mass. – A jury has found the Providence and Worcester Railroad Company liable for more than $310,000, plus interest, in a civil rights violation lawsuit stemming from a February 1996 arrest.

A subsequent motion for a new trial was denied May 25, 2004. A judge, however, reduced the award to $319,058.95, down from the $319,558.95 the jury awarded.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in February 1996 when the plaintiff, George W. O’Leary, was arrested for trespassing on the Company’s right of way in East Providence, R.I., by a member of the Company’s police force, which was deactivated in 2001. The plaintiff filed suit in 1999, alleging various civil rights violations arising from the incident, including unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, battery, assault, and violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The jury’s award included $500 for medical bills, which was set aside as a result of the Company’s post-trial motion, and $10,000 for plaintiff’s legal expenses. The remainder of the award was for pain and suffering, embarrassment, violation of rights and punitive damages.

The Company says it is considering all options, including appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

— Business Wire