County pays $925,000 to settle part of Chasse lawsuit

From the Portland Tribune, July 2 2009

Family’s claims against city and Portland police are scheduled for a federal trial next year

Multnomah County commissioners approved a $925,000 settlement Thursday morning with the family of James P. Chasse Jr., who died of internal injuries in police custody Sept. 17, 2006.

The settlement ends the family’s claims in U.S. District Court civil case against the county and a handful of defendants, including former Deputy Bret Burton and corrections health nurses Patricia Gayman and Sokunthy Eath.

Portland attorney Tom Steenson, who represents the Chasse family, said the settlement doesn’t affect claims against Portland Police Officer Christopher Humphreys, police Sgt. Kyle Nice, police Chief Rosie Sizer, former Mayor Tom Potter, the city of Portland, TriMet, American Medical Response Northwest Inc. and AMR paramedics Tamara Hergert and Kevin Stucker.

A trial on some of the claims against those defendants is scheduled in mid-March 2010. A second trial on claims against Sizer, Potter, the city of Portland and AMR is planned in late 2010. A court order split the two cases.

Because of James’ death, in the ongoing discussions leading up to the settlement, the family requested the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) revise its operational and procedures manual to bring its transportation procedures regarding injured individuals into compliance with best practices for law enforcement agencies.

James P. Chasse Jr. died after he was tackled by Portland police officers during a confrontation outside a Northwest Portland restaurant. Even though he was seriously injured, police and sheriff’s deputies did not provide Chasse with medical treatment for at least 90 minutes while he was in custody.

The Multnomah County medical examiner said Chasse suffered 16 broken ribs, a broken shoulder and sternum and massive internal injuries. His death was listed as “accidental.”

In late May, the sheriff’s office changed its procedures to provide medical care for anyone in custody with symptoms of life-threatening physical injury.