$142.5K Settlement Reached in Lawsuit over North Dakota Traffic Stop

January 22, 2016

The North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund will pay $142,500 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Richland County Sheriff’s Office.

The three men who filed the lawsuit alleged they were injured when two deputies, Dan Wise and Steve Gjerdevig, used excessive force during a traffic stop for speeding in Abercrombie in August 2011.

Christopher Miranowski, Derek Grund and Adam Nelson sued in U.S. District Court in Fargo in August 2012, alleging that Wise and Gjerdevig yelled at them with perverse language and assaulted and battered them.

Authorities maintained the officers did nothing wrong because the three men had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana that night, appeared to be fleeing the officers and were uncooperative during the traffic stop. Court documents indicated the deputies pointed a firearm and a Taser at the plaintiffs but did not fire the weapons.

KFGO radio learned of the settlement through an open records request. Settlement terms call for Miranowski to receive more than $76,000, and Grund and Nelson to each receive $15,000. They’ll share an additional $36,000 for medical costs.

The settlement says the payments are not an admission of liability on the part of the defendants.

The three plaintiffs initially were seeking unspecified damages to be determined by a jury. Court documents show that the case was dismissed last month “with prejudice,” meaning the dismissal is permanent and the case cannot be brought back into court.

The state Insurance Reserve Fund handles claims against local governments.

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