On June 2, 2022, a settlement was approved between Sidley pro bono client and freelance journalist Linda Tirado and the City of Minneapolis in a case being heard in the Federal District Court of Minnesota. The settlement includes a substantial monetary sum for Ms. Tirado, as well as acknowledgements from the City with respect to policies and procedures related to the use of force.
Ms. Tirado found herself at the center of a national outcry when she was permanently blinded in one eye from a 40 mm less-lethal projectile fired by a Minneapolis Police Department officer while she covered a protest in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Sidley filed a complaint against the City of Minneapolis and others on Ms. Tirado’s behalf stating claims for violations of her rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments, Conspiracy Against Constitutional Rights, and common law battery.
In February 2021, after a full briefing and oral argument from both sides, the court denied motions to dismiss from the defendants and ordered discovery to proceed, which eventually led to the approved settlement.
“This was a precedent-setting case because we prevailed over the City’s attempt to dismiss Linda’s civil right claims, which usually requires evidence of a pattern of misconduct over a long period of time,” said Tai-Heng Cheng, co-lead pro bono counsel for Ms. Tirado’s case and global co-head of the international arbitration and trade practice at Sidley. “We believe that by preserving our civil rights claim in the City’s failed motion to dismiss, we were able to trigger changes in police procedures relating to the use of force, generally, including against journalists covering constitutionally-protected protests. This was one of our stated goals.”
“We are also pleased that we were able to settle this case for a large sum of money before it went to trial,” said Mr. Cheng. “As such, we avoided a delay in paying Linda, who desperately needs the money to pay her medical bills and to support her two children.”
Ms. Tirado’s case raises important questions related to the rights of independent journalists to cover newsworthy events, and has received widespread media coverage.
“Although no amount of money will completely restore the professional damage or resolve the trauma my family and I have endured these past two years, this settlement will allow me to get back on my feet and properly care for my kids,” said Ms. Tirado. “I’m grateful to put this behind me and look forward to continuing my work on covering issues of racial, social, and economic justice.”
The Sidley team was led by partners Tai Heng-Cheng (New York and Singapore) and Margaret Allen (Singapore and Dallas).
Other team members included Stacy Horth-Neubert, Jennifer Lim, Gaëlle Tribié, Gabriel Schonfeld, Cassandra Liu, Ryan Parchment, John Plotz, Alyssa Hasbrouck, Evan Medina, Monique Candiff, Elana Handelman, Gigi Kisela, Gabriela Balbín , Estelle Georges-Nason, and Chaddy Georges.