Whether policy required an exception to the "proportionate share" of damages rule in cases of domestic violence where the police fail to act resulting in harm to the victim.
In August 1999, Legal Momentum signed on to an amicus brief in support of a woman who sued the Nassau County Police Dept for failing to enforce a protective order. The woman’s ex-husband tried to kill her after the police declined to arrest him despite her protective order and an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The decision turned on the interpretation of a procedural rule that limits a party’s liability to its proportionate share of the damages in cases where it has been found liable for less than half the damages.
The amicus brief, submitted on behalf of local domestic violence shelters, service providers, and us, argued that public policy requires an exception to that "proportionate share" rule in cases of domestic violence so that police departments cannot minimize their liability for the harms that result when police fail to enforce protective orders. On Dec. 2, 1999, the Court of Appeals reversed the $1.5 million verdict that had been awarded against Nassau County. The Court refused to grant an exception to the law authorizing proportionate share liability for domestic violence cases, determining that any such exception can only be created by the legislature.