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Ohio University Police Department

Ohio University student awarded more than $22,000 for broken thumb

Lyndsey Howell says her thumb was broken during a traffic stop a night she was drunkenly driving.

An Ohio University student who has claimed for more than two years that her left thumb was broken while being handcuffed by a campus police officer is to receive $22,554.06 from OUPD for the damage.

Lyndsey Howell, of Chillicothe, filed a complaint in the Ohio Court of Claims on Jan. 2, 2013 through her attorney Vincent DePascale regarding a fracture in her left thumb that allegedly occurred during her arrest a year ago.

Howell was pulled over by Lieutenant Eric Hoskinson on Jan. 21, 2012 for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. After Lt. Hoskinson requested her to perform a series of sobriety tests, he placed her under arrest, placed handcuffs on her and escorted her to the cruiser.

Howell testified at a trial that prior to being pulled over, she had no prior injuries to her left hand. She further testified that while being handcuffed, she felt a "pop" in her left thumb and severe pain immediately afterward.  

Lt. Hoskinson also testified that he asked Howell if she was injured before he began the field sobriety tests, and she stated she was not. Howell was later convicted of  operating a vehicle while intoxicated from charges related to the incident in Athens County Municipal Court.

Following a trial, Magistrate Holly True Shaver determined in June that Lt. Hoskinson “failed to use ordinary care” when he handcuffed the plaintiff. Shaver ordered OUPD to pay Howell $2,529 for medical expenses and $20,000 for pain and suffering, along with $25 for fees.

The Ohio University Police Department filed an objection to Shaver’s decision later in the summer, questioning the Magistrate's “improper legal inference of liability.”

The objections were overruled, and Judge Patrick McGrath adopted the magistrate's decision and recommendation as its own Thursday.

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