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$3.1 Million Awarded in Florida False Arrest, Malicious Prosecution Case

Richard Sakharoff, a 49-year-old insurance agent, was asleep on his couch on June 17, 2001 when Boca Raton, Florida police officers knocked on his door and ordered him out. Officers were led to Sakharoff's home by a police dog, and when local waitress Stephanie Lynn identified him as the man who had just robbed her at gunpoint, Sakharoff was arrested.

He spent three days in jail before bonding out, and authorities later dropped the charges. Turns out that Sakharoff, who was asleep at the time of the robbery as well, didn't do it. According to the false arrest and malicious prosecution claims later filed by Sakharoff, he was the victim of misidentification (his facial hair and clothing did not match Lynn's initial description), as well as a malfunctioning police dog's nose (records showed the dog had inhaled smoke from a fire just two hours prior to the incident).

Sakharoff sued the City of Boca Raton and several police officers for false arrest and false imprisonment. He also sued Lynn for malicious prosecution. The city settled the claim for $100,000, with Detective Bruce Turnbull agreeing to personally pay $100 per month for twelve months.

But Lynn failed to respond to the lawsuit, and in 2010, Sakharoff obtained a $1.5 million judgment against her for economic damages. She later hired an attorney, appealed the award, and succeeded in getting a new trial on damages. Unfortunately for Lynn, the jury found that Sakharoff had suffered emotional distress and PTSD as a result of her actions, and awarded him $1.5 million in damages for personal injury.

The judge added the April 3, 2013 jury award to the 2010 economic damages judgment, for a total award of $3 million.

See: Sakharoff v. City of Boca Raton, et al., Palm Beach County Circuit Court, 15th Circuit, Case No. 502005CA003106.

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