Trial Date Set for Civil Suit Filed by Rachel Hoffman's Family - UPDATE

By: Candace Sweat; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Candace Sweat; Julie Montanaro Email

UPATED 12.6.2010 by Julie Montanaro

It could be next fall before a jury has a chance to hear the case of Hoffman vs. City of Tallahassee.

Attorneys for both the Hoffman family and the City of Tallahassee confirm the trial date for that wrongful death suit has been delayed from March 2011 until September 2011.

Attorneys on both sides say they still need more time to do depositions in the case.

The Hoffmans filed suit against the city after their daughter Rachel was shot and killed in a botched drug deal in May 2008. They claim Rachel should never have been used as an informant and that Tallahassee Police officers were negligent in their planning, handling and supervision of that deal.

The two men who killed Rachel Hoffman, Andrea Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, are already serving life sentences for her kidnapping and murder.

Hoffman family attorney Lance Block says Senator Mike Fasano has already filed a claims bill in the legislature which could be considered this spring if the family and the city reach a settlement before then.

Senate Bill 68, which was filed August 2nd, does not specify an exact amount of damages.

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Attorneys for the City of Tallahassee and the Hoffman family met at the Leon County Courthouse today for a scheduling conference.

After about an hour comparing calendars, they decided that jury selection will begin March 4th of next year and the trial is expected to begin on the 7th and last 15-20 business days.

"A case of this magnitude, you want to get a special setting and set aside enough time to make sure all the issues are heard," said Hoffman family attorney, Lance Block.

In most civil cases, it comes down to two basic questions: Who was negligent? And what damages were caused as a result of that negligence?

"All you have to do is look at the city's internal affairs investigation and the press conferences that took place in 2008 and our case is certainly based on what the city has already said about itself. That it was negligent," Block said.

Hoffman was shot and killed in a botched drug sting back in May 2008. Andrea Green and Deneilo Bradshaw have already been sentenced to life in prison for it, but the family is seeking damages from the city, saying its officers involved were negligent.

The city attorneys had previously plead a defense blaming Green and Bradshaw for their negligence. But on Thursday, the judge declined their request to have the two men included on the verdict form, meaning they will not be considered for negligence in this case.

The attorneys hired by the city declined on camera interviews but said they were pleased that the judge was working with their schedules to get things started.

Attorneys will come before a judge again on September 14th for another case management conference to touch base on how things are coming along before the trial begins in March


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