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On February 14, 2011, Plaintiff Tommy Baker was in his home, standing at the top of a flight of stairs to his basement. A Union Township police officer entered his home and tased Baker without justification. Baker fell down the flight of stairs and suffered severe injuries, including a broken neck. District Court Judge Michael Barrett denied Union Township and its officer’s motion for summary judgment. Defendants appealed.

On September 19, 2014 the U.S. Sixth Circuit of Appeals affirmed, finding that the officer’s actions were objectively unreasonable and thus violated Baker’s constitutional rights. At the time of the tasing Baker was a non-violent misdemeanant suspect who had been, but was no longer, fleeing, standing at the top of an observable staircase and offering no resistance or indication of aggression. The officer gave no warnings or commands – he simply tased Baker, incapacitating him, causing him to fall down the stairs and suffer a broken neck. The Court also held that Union Township could not appeal the district court’s ruling because Plaintiff sought to hold the municipality liable under a theory of ratification for failing to investigate.

Plaintiff anticipates a trial date will be set for early 2015.


On November 18, 2014, in Cincinnati, Al Gerhardstein will teach a portion of the National Business Institute course, “Handling the Police Liability Claim.”  He will focus his presentation on common liability issues, including excessive force, pursuit, wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, shooting incidents, and more.  Expect an interactive and engaging presentation. NBI’s description of the entire course is:

Police liability claims are on the rise. Do you have the knowledge to handle this type of case from start to finish? Are you up to date with the ins and outs of state and federal law involving civil actions against police departments and officers? Join us at this practical seminar and learn how to overcome any obstacle you may encounter with a police liability claim – register today!

  • Stay current on state law involving civil actions against police departments and officers.
  • Equip yourself to handle liability issues under Section 1983.
  • Get up to speed on the most common police officer liability issues like excessive force and wrongful arrest.
  • Better understand the police investigation process and know what documents are available for discovery.
  • Understand the statutory immunities that are afforded to police officers.
  • Confidently bring or defend against police liability claims with practical tips from seasoned attorneys.

The course will be held at the Holiday Inn Eastgate, 4501 Eastgate Boulevard, Cincinnati, Ohio 45245.  You can Register Here.


Cincinnati.  August 11, 2014. Today the family of Gary Roell, Sr. filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death suit alleging that Hamilton County deputies unreasonably tased and fought with Mr. Roell, who suffered from mental illness and was experiencing a mental health emergency when he died.  At the time of the tasing Mr. Roell was not armed. He was making incoherent statements.  He was naked from the waist down and holding a flower basket and a garden hose.

Family attorney, Al Gerhardstein, stated that “We have thoroughly investigated this case. Gary’s death is truly tragic.  Sheriff Neil has made progress on taser policies since taking office but it all came too late for Mr. Roell.”  The lawsuit further alleges that the defendant deputies were not properly trained and supervised on handling encounters with mentally ill citizens.  Gerhardstein noted that police use of force on mentally ill citizens was of particular interest to Mr. Roell, who in 1997 joined others to protest after a mentally ill citizen, Mr. Lorenzo Collins, was killed as a result of the excessive force by law enforcement officers.

The family seeks compensation for Mr. Roell’s widow and his six adult children and they hope the lawsuit will help spur additional reforms regarding mental health and taser policies, training, and supervision in Hamilton County.

Jaci Gonzales Martin of Gerhardstein & Branch is co-counsel on the lawsuit.   In October 2012 the law firm issued a white paper that reviewed Taser policies in 47 Hamilton County law enforcement agencies.  Sheriff Neil did not take office until January 2013.  He has upgraded policies since taking office but much “more work remains to be done” according to Ms. Martin

Contact Al Gerhardstein: (513) 659-4765


Cincinnati, August 6th, 2014 – The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard three hours of arguments on appeals from district court decisions declaring bans on marriages between same-sex couples unconstitutional in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  Al Gerhardstein argued for the same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Himes and Henry v. Himes, who sued the State of Ohio for recognition of their out-of-state marriages on death and birth certificates.  The arguments were widely covered in the media and a few of the stories are below.

Gerhardstein & Branch has filed another case in federal district court on behalf of six same-sex couples seeking their right to marry in Ohio.  Judge Michael Barrett has stayed that case pending the Sixth Circuit’s decision.  The appeals from Michigan and Kentucky seek the right to marry in those states and challenge marriage bans nearly identical to Ohio’s.  The Sixth Circuit’s decision in those cases is expected to set the precedent for the right to marry in Ohio.

Cincinnati Enquirer - Gay marriage hearing ends: How will court rule?

Cincinnati’s WCPO – Same-sex marriage hearings: Judges argue whether court or ballot box is proper place to settle issue

Cleveland Plain Dealer – Federal appeals court judges appear split in same-sex marriage case

Washington Post – Federal appeals court may be roadblock to gay marriage cases in four states

U.S. News & World Report (AP) – Federal appellate judges weigh gay marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee


Cincinnati, June 26, 2014. The family of Corey McGinnis has resolved its civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit against the City of North College Hill, Ohio.  Corey died after he was tased in the chest on June 26, 2012. The family has resolved the case for $650,000.00 plus a number of changes in taser policy and training.  The settlement, which must be approved by the probate court, provides that North College Hill will:

  • amend its taser policy to reflect the manufacturer’s preferred target zone;
  • grade officer examinations taken during taser training;
  • conduct competent use of force investigations following taser deployments;
  • take reasonable efforts to participate in a national registry regarding taser impact if one is established; and
  • implement the reforms through a neutral expert with input from plaintiff counsel Al Gerhardstein.

The family was represented by attorneys Al Gerhardstein, Konrad Kircher, and Clyde Bennett III.  Konrad Kircher said, “The funds will be used to support the education and other needs of Corey’s children.  His sister Yolanda McGinnis has been a great advocate for her nieces and nephews and has honored her brother the best way possible through this settlement.”

Counsel Al Gerhardstein, adds, “North College Hill should be commended for including reforms in this settlement.  The McGinnis family wanted the case to help improve taser policies and training.  The settlement sends a message to all local law enforcement agencies that they should honor the preferred target zone, make sure officers are competent with the weapon, and do thorough investigations.”  Gerhardstein issued a white paper in 2011 identifying deficiencies in local taser policies and making recommendations. The Hamilton County Chiefs Association responded earlier this year, agreeing with many of the recommendations.

The lawsuit was pending in the United States District Court in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Contact:

Al Gerhardstein:  (o) 513.621.9100, (c) 513.659.4765

Konrad Kircher: (o) 513.229.7996, (c ) 513.218.1252


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Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513)621-9100
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