A heroin addict who won an $11 million verdict from the city over a Bronx traffic stop gone awry should have his large payout partially reduced, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Raoul Lopez sued the city in 2007 after a cop shot him in the neck during a traffic stop a year earlier, leaving him partially paralyzed on his right side.
The city claimed that the officer only fired his weapon as another cop was being dragged by Lopez’s car as he tried to flee.
Conversely, Lopez claimed he fumbled to hand over a bag of heroin to the officers, dropping it on the ground. And when he reached for it one officer shot him, prompting him to drive over the median. But his body slumped down, causing him to hit a planter and an officer was hurt in the process.
A jury in 2019 found the city liable in the case and awarded Lopez the hefty sum for past pain and suffering, future medical expenses and future pain and suffering.
In its Tuesday ruling, the Appellate Division, First Department agreed with the jury that the city should be held liable in the case — but said the verdict needed to be reduced from $5 million to reflect a lower amount for future medical expenses.
“While we thus see no reason to upset the liability portion of the verdict, we do find that the court erred in upholding the award for future medical expenses,” the unanimous decision from Tuesday reads.
The decision said that Lopez should either agree to take a roughly $700,000 reduction or a new trial should be held to determine damages he should receive solely for future medical expenses.
City Law Department spokesman Nick Paolucci said, “We believe this officer’s split-second response was justified under the circumstances and probably saved his partner from being dragged to death.
“We’re pleased the award was reduced by $700,000, and we’re looking into whether there are grounds for further appeal.”
Lopez’s lawyer Brett Klein told The Post, “We are pleased the appellate court has validated the jury’s verdict that excessive force was used in this case.”