CLEVELAND — A high-profile lawsuit against the City of Euclid will move forward – but only after the judge in the case admonished the plaintiff’s attorney for missing court.
Richard Hubbard III filed a federal lawsuit against police officer Michael Amiott and the City of Euclid in September. Hubbard’s lawyer, Christopher McNeal, is asking for $3.8 million after video of Amiott punching Hubbard during a traffic stop went viral.
But just last week, Judge Dan Polster threatened to dismiss the lawsuit altogether after McNeal missed a filing deadline and failed to show up in court for a scheduling conference. The court also couldn’t get a hold of McNeal by phone or email.
“In my twenty years on the bench I have never seen this,” said Judge Polster Wednesday during a hearing to determine if the case would move forward.
McNeal apologized to the court and said a “confluence of events” caused him to miss his hearing, including a scheduling error, faulty email and voicemail systems.
Polster ordered McNeal pay $784 out of pocket for court costs and the officers’ time for the missed hearing by January 15. But, the case would move forward.
Judge Polster said he had seen the video of Amiott punching Hubbard. He said he would not penalize Hubbard for McNeal’s “management deficiencies."
After the video went viral, Euclid’s mayor fired Amiott, but an arbitrator awarded him his job back in October, with conditions, including additional training and supervision.
In November, an exclusive 5 On Your Side investigation revealed serious red flags related to officers’ use of force.
We found only 20 percent of officers, including Amiott, were responsible for more than 80 percent of reported uses of force during a two-and-a half year period.
Civil rights attorney Paul Cristallo was added to Hubbard’s defense team as a co-counsel.
After the hearing, Cristallo, McNeal and attorneys for the City of Euclid met for a case management conference.