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Website Breaches


Bank Exec Wins $5.6M in Database Error Lawsuit Against County

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Prince George's County will have to anti-up more than five million dollars to atone for a database error that caused a man to be arrested in D.C. and spend five days in jail in 2009.

Unknown to the arresting officer in D.C., the Prince George's County warrant for Christopher Harper, 43, which showed up in a database used by police nationwide had been recalled two years earlier by court order. Astonishingly, Prince George’s County Sheriff’s officials had actually entered the warrant into a database two days after it was recalled in 2007.

Last week, a jury awarded Harper $5.6 million dollars for damages he suffered as a result of the county's failure to provide an accurate database of warrants.

According to the lawsuit, Harper, a customer account executive with Chevy Chase bank, spent five days in jail and eventually lost his job at the bank. Harper repeatedly told authorities the warrant had been recalled and pleaded with D.C. jailers to verify this. The D.C. police sent multiple requests to the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office seeking confirmation but the requests went unanswered for days, according to the suit.

"Jurors found the Prince George’s Sheriff’s Office had “an unlawful policy and custom of not running the warrant system correctly because they have so many mistakes in it,” Harper's attorney told reporters following the multi-million dollar judgment.

Prince George's Sheriff's officials have previously acknowledged they have a problem with the database as they work through tens of thousands of warrants backlogged into the system.

Mitigating Risk for County Officials

If you are a county official responsible for posting public records online you may want to read how disclaimers won't help you stay in office if your website is found to be used by criminals to steal identities in Don’t Let Identity Theft Rob Your Election . If you think redaction will protect you or your constituents it may be because you believe the hype of redaction software salesmen.  You should read The Truth About Redaction. and Supreme Court Says, 'Counties Not Protected By Sovereign Immunity'

Posted 10-30-12

Source: $5.6M judgment for man in civil suit against Pr. George’s Sheriff’s Office - Washington Post

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