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Case Style: Danny Bennett and Danny Reid v. Dennis Lee Hendrix
Case Number: 1:00-cv-02520-TWT
Judge: Thomas W. Thrash, Jr,
Court: United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (Fulton County)
Eric Chofnas, Office of Eric S. Chofnas, Alpharetta, Georgia
Cynthia Daley and Paul Koster of Daley, Koster & LaVallee, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia
Christopher Balch of Jarrard & Davis, Cumming, Georgia
Phillip Friduss of Hall Booth Smith & Slover, Atlanta, Georgia
Danny Bennett and Danny Reid sued former Forsyth County Sheriff Dennis Lee Hendrix, former Chief Deputy Earl Singletary and former Major and present Sergeant David Waters on a civil rights theory, 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming that defendant used his public office to surveil, harass and intimidate them in retaliation for Plaintiffs' support of a referendum in 1998 that called for creation of a countywide police force and a reduction in the sheriff's powers. The referendum was defeated, but Bennett and Reid contended a campaign of retaliation and intimidation continued through a "strike force" that Hendrix created in the Sheriff's Department. Plaintiffs further claimed that in connection with the 2000 election for Sheriff, Defendant Hendrix orchestrated a smear campaign calling the Plaintiffs "convicted criminals" and "convicted felons" who "terrorize Forsyth County." Plaintiffs alleged that, at the same time, their homes and businesses were put under surveillance, roadblocks were set up near their homes.
Outcome: The jury awarded Danny Bennett $3.6 million and Danny Reid $3.1 million for libel. The jury also awarded $2.8 million to Bennett for First Amendment retaliation. The trial judge granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the First Amendment retaliation claims.
Plaintiff's Experts: Lt. Roger Dewitt, Gwinnett County, GA
Defendant's Experts: None
Comments: Per Plaintiffs' counsel, the Plaintiffs put on evidence of a "strike force" run by Sheriff Hendrix targeting the Plaintiffs because of their support of the 1998 Referendum. Accordingly, Plaintiffs intend to appeal the trial court's decision to dismiss the First Amendment retaliation claims after jury deliberations.
- Mark Lefkow Nall & Miller, LLP 235 Peachtree Street, NE Suite 1500 Atlanta, GA 30303 (404) 522-2200