LOCKPORT – An appellate court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Lockport police by a city man who fell downstairs while officers were checking on him and was left paralyzed by his injuries.
The Fourth Department of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Christopher M. Bower’s case should have been thrown out by the first judge who heard it.
The five-judge panel noted that the four officers who were on the scene all testified in depositions that Bower fell downstairs in his uncle’s house because he was intoxicated. They all denied the claim that one of them pushed him down the stairs.
Bower, now 44, testified he was too drunk to remember exactly what happened. Thus, there are no competing versions of the facts for a jury to consider, the Rochester court ruled.
The police went to the Highland Drive home at 4:45 a.m. Jan. 14, 2007, because the intoxicated Bower tripped a burglar alarm and was unable to tell the alarm company the password when reached by phone.
“It’s a huge, huge relief,” Lockport’s Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said.
The original lawsuit, filed in 2008, demanded $154 million in damages.
“It’s a very unfortunate case,” said Charles E. Graney of the Webster Szanyi law firm, who handled the case for the city. “Mr. Bower’s in a very difficult condition with his health, but we agree with the Fourth Department. We think they got it correct.”
Steven M. Cohen of the Hogan Willig firm, representing Bower, disagreed.
“Chris Bower deserves his day in court and the Appellate Division should be ashamed of itself for refusing to allow him to present his case to a jury of his peers,” Cohen said.