City of Cornelia Settles With Injured Infant for one Million Dollars

A lawsuit filed by lawyers with Finch McCranie LLP over alleged civil rights violations concerning the deployment of a flashbang stun grenade has been partially settled with the City of Cornelia by the parents of baby “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh. The City’s insurance company has agreed to pay $1 million on behalf of the City and its officers in order to partially settle allegations against members of the City of Cornelia’s Special Response Team who participated in the search and seizure operation which resulted in the injuries to Baby Bou Bou. During the search, a flashbang stun grenade was thrown into a playpen in which 19-month old Baby Bou Bou was sleeping. Since that time he has undergone numerous surgeries to his face and torso.

This settlement marks the second settlement made by a member of the Special Response Team arising from the incident. Previously, Habersham County paid $1 million to resolve claims arising from the search and seizure operation. The case filed by the Phonesavanhs asserted claims against not only Habersham County and the City of Cornelia Special Response Team, but also against members of the Mountain Judicial Circuit NCIS Task Force. The claims remain pending in federal court in Gainesville.

The settlements paid by Habersham County and the City of Cornelia, while helping to defray past medical expenses, do not sufficiently resolve future medical costs for additional surgeries awaiting the injured child. Nor do the settlements fully compensate other members of the family who were also injured during the raid, including the father who experienced a torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery after being allegedly manhandled by one of the officers participating in the search.

Notwithstanding these two separate settlements, the litigation rising out of this matter continues, particularly against members of the Mountain Judicial Circuit NCIS Task Force whom the Phonesavanh’s contend violated their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights by obtaining the search warrant at issue through the use of false and/or recklessly misleading statements.

The Phonesavanh family is being represented by the Atlanta law firm of Finch McCranie LLP (Richard W. Hendrix and Steven R. Wisebram).

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