DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The city of Council Bluffs will pay $6 million to settle a lawsuit with two Omaha, Neb., men who sued after the courts concluded they were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 25 years for the shooting death of a retired police captain.
Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee will be paid $2.3 million immediately and the remainder in six annual payments of $528,571. A final payment of $728,571 will be made in July 2020.
The settlement agreement resolves the lawsuit naming the Council Bluffs and retired city police detectives Daniel Larsen and Lyle Brown, who were alleged to have coerced witnesses into making up testimony among other misconduct.
The lawsuit was scheduled for retrial Tuesday before a federal jury in Des Moines. The first trial ended in mistrial last December when jurors could not agree on the verdict.
In that trial Harrington sought more than $60 million and McGhee was asking for more than $50 million.
The two black men were seeking compensation for years spent in prison for what the courts have concluded was a wrongful conviction in the 1977 shooting death of John Schweer, a white retired police captain who was working as a security guard for Council Bluffs car dealerships.
The agreement signed Friday splits the money evenly between the two men in exchange for dismissal of the lawsuit filed in November 2003 in U.S. District Court in Des Moines. It specifies all parties will pay their own attorney fees and costs. The agreement specifies no admission of fault, liability or wrongdoing by any party and bars anyone from making public statements suggesting otherwise.
The agreement also requires all involved and their attorneys to refrain from any disparagement or criticism regarding the lawsuit claims or the settlement. Parties involved in the case have agreed to make no public statement for at least 60 days other than to say the matter has been satisfactorily resolved. After that, statements may be made “in good faith about matters relating to the claims or settlement as long as they do not engage in disparagement and criticism.”
Details of the settlement, initially sealed Friday by Magistrate Judge Thomas Shields, were ordered unsealed Tuesday by Judge Robert Pratt after The Associated Press filed a freedom of information request under Iowa’s open records law. Pratt said in the order there was no compelling reason to justify sealing the settlement. He pointed out that Iowa law requires such settlements to be disclosed.
“Under these circumstances, the court finds that the public interest in open access to the court and its records outweighs any potential interest of the parties in keeping the settlement under seal,” he wrote.
Harrington and McGhee were released in 2003 after the Iowa Supreme Court found prosecutors committed misconduct by hiding evidence that could have helped them in their 1978 trials. Pottawattamie County agreed to pay them $12 million in 2010 to settle claims against two former prosecutors.
Pratt, who presided over the first trial, had narrowed the issues that jurors in a new trial would have considered.
In an April ruling he said the only issue to survive to a new trial was whether Larsen and Brown deliberately manufactured, coerced or fabricated false evidence against Harrington and McGhee and knowingly used it against them at their murder trials.
He threw out all other allegations, including racial discrimination, that the city failed to train or supervise the officers, and claims that the officers failed to investigate other suspects.
The ruling released the city of Council Bluffs from direct liability, but the city could have been held responsible for paying if a jury had returned a verdict against the officers and a judge had found the acts of the officers were “a willful and wanton act or omission,” according to Iowa law.
The city was continuing to pay legal fees for Larsen and Brown.
The city will pay the money out of its insurance fund, money collected under a tax called a tort levy that city residents pay to offset the cost of litigation and legal bills.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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