Lawsuit settlements that not only provide compensation for victims but also help improve society as a whole are the main objective for preeminent plaintiff attorneys. Such a result was achieved recently when it was announced that the City of Philadelphia will pay $4.4 million to a young man who was gunned down by two plainclothes police officers as he was delivering take-out food in West Philadelphia. Additionally, the settlement for Philippe Holland will result in the Philadelphia Police Department implementing new training protocols to prevent a similar incident from ever happening again.
The settlement was announced by attorney Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter, PC, following more than two years of litigation arising from the April 2014 incident. "This settlement will not only compensate an innocent citizen who suffered devastating injuries but also served as a catalyst for significant reforms in the way our communities are policed by plainclothes officers,” Kline told the news media, noting that the monetary settlement was the largest-ever in Philadelphia and one of the largest in the country over a police shooting.
Holland, 20 at the time of the incident, suffered gunshot wounds to his head and other parts of his body when two officers fired 14 times into his vehicle as he tried to get away from men he believed were going to rob him. Afterward, Holland underwent extensive surgery and has fragments of bullets lodged in his brain. To this day, he suffers a permanent seizure disorder and other injuries as a result of the shooting.
Kline commended the City of Philadelphia and the Police Department for agreeing as part of the settlement to establish a new protocol that will include updated rules on things such as plainclothes officer attire, proper placement and display of patrol badges, and permitted and prohibited activities and interactions with the public, including how and when to identify themselves as police officers. The city also agreed to produce a training video that all new plainclothes officers will be required to watch before assignments and as part of roll call. The new steps are to be implemented by July 1.
Said Kline: “The new protocol for training plainclothes police officers, which was an integral part of this settlement, will result in a safer Philadelphia not only for its citizens but also for police officers.”
Many Kline & Specter cases have resulted in safety improvements, including steps to improve healthcare and various products.
In a settlement prior to the Holland case, the City of Philadelphia agreed to pay more than $2.2 million to the estates of a man and his infant son who were killed when they were run down on a city sidewalk by an out-of-control police car. In that case, headed by Shanin Specter, then Police Commissioner John Timoney agreed to reforms designed the reduce the number of fatal accidents involving police vehicles. Among the new policies was a requirement that officers log 60 hours behind the wheel with a veteran before driving alone and a rule that squad cars responding to emergencies must stop (rather than slow) at red lights and stop signs.