Gary man awarded $25.5M in lawsuit against ex-cop, Hammond

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A federal jury has awarded a Gary man $25.5 million in his lawsuit alleging that a now-retired police officer violated his civil rights and deprived him of a fair trial in a case involving a 1980 rape and robbery.

The jury in U.S. District Court in Hammond deliberated for about three hours Tuesday before awarding James Hill Jr. $25 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages.

The verdict following a civil trial represents the second time a federal jury has ruled against retired Hammond police Capt. Michael Solan and the city of Hammond, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

In 2006, Hill’s co-defendant in the 1980 case, Larry Mayes, won a $9 million verdict that was later reduced to $4.5 million.

Hill, 59, and Mays had their 1982 convictions set aside after a Lake County magistrate judge found the state had violated their rights by failing to turn over evidence to their defense attorneys before their trials.

Hill filed his civil lawsuit in 2010. To win the case, he had to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the outcome of his 1982 trial could have been different if Solan had turned over two sets of police records.

Jurors had to agree that the documents were favorable to Hill, were either exculpatory or could have been used to impeach a witness, and that they were material to the case.

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