County, city settle excessive force lawsuit with McAdam

December 20, 2013

An arbitrator has ruled in a federal lawsuit filed against the City of Ludington and Mason County regarding allegations of excessive force against Ludington resident Joe McAdam. Arbitrator Bruce Neckers ruled in favor of one of the allegations but rules against two other allegations.

The case stems from a July 20, 2009 traffic stop of Joe’s mother, Susan McAdam at the corner of Ludington Avenue and Lakeshore Drive shortly after midnight. Susan was pulled over by Ludington Police Department officer Matthew York for inoperable tail lights, according to court documents from the United States District Court Western District of Michigan Southern Division.

During the traffic stop, police and Susan’s son, Joe, apparently got into a scuffle resulting in Joe McAdams’ arrest. See related story.

McAdam sued the city, the county and the police officers involved for excessive force during the arrest and excessive force using a stun gun later that night at Memorial Medical Center (now Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital). He also alleged that Mason County had not properly trained its officers. The officers involved in the case were Ludington police officers Matthew York and Matthew Warmuskerken (now a Mason County sheriff’s deputy) and Mason County sheriff’s deputy Derrek Wilson and Sgt. Oscar Davila. York was not named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, however.

In July, McAdam, the City of Ludington and Mason County agreed to have the case settled in arbitration.

The arbitrator ruled in favor of the defendants on the allegations that officers used excessive force during the arrest and that the county did not train its officers. However, he did rule in favor of McAdam on the allegations that the officers used excessive force while McAdam was being treated at the hospital.

The arbitrator awarded damages in the amount of $95,000 to McAdam, split 50-50 between the county and the city. According to a press release from County Administrator Fabian Knizacky, the two entities had previously agreed that the split would be ⅓ city and ⅔ on any damages.

The rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

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