Law Offices of Popper & Yatvin
Bad Shooting,
Quick Settlement

Police Officer Christopher DiPasquale’s October 1, 1998
shooting of Donta Dawson, as he sat unarmed in his parked
car, rocked Philadelphia.  With so many lawyers - civil rights
practitioners and otherwise – eager to sign the case, we were
somewhat surprised when the family came to us.  Apparently
word of our experience in a number of prior police shooting
cases, including cases where the City had disavowed the
officers, as well as our prior knowledge of DiPasquale from the
Moises DeJesus case, had reached the Dawson family’s

The firing and prosecution of DiPasquale made it quite clear
that the City would neither defend nor voluntarily indemnify
him.  Thus, this was a case which would require us to
demonstrate municipal liability by virtue of the City’s failure to
adequately train, investigate or discipline DiPasquale in
connection with his more than 10 prior misconduct allegations.

Having twice garnered jury verdicts on such Monell claims, we
well knew the issues involved in pleading and litigating this
case.  This experience was clearly a factor in the speedy
settlement of the case.

As the
City Paper noted on November 24, 1999:

           Of the millions in settlement dollars paid out to the
    survivors of Philadelphia police misconduct and brutality
    over the past several decades, the payment made to
    Donta Dawson’s mother in August was one of the largest
    ever — and one of the fastest.

           When Cynthia Dawson filed a federal civil rights
    lawsuit on April 15 for the shooting death of her son by
    police Officer Christopher DiPasquale, it took the city
    solicitor’s office little more than 10 weeks to come up with
    a $712,500 offer to settle.

                                        #  #  #

    Legal Intelligencer Article

    Dawson v. Dodd, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9181 (E.D.Pa.
    1999) (Opinion on Officers' Motion to Stay)
The information in
these case
summaries is purely
from our perspective,
and does not present
opposing views or
arguments.  The
summaries should not
be deemed complete
or authoritative.