JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – After 15 years, several prison sentences and a jury award of $115,000, Lester Siler is still wanting more compensation.
Siler became a household name in 2004 when five Campbell County deputies beat him in his White Oak mobile home as a stashed tape recorder captured roughly 45 minutes of the two hour event.
TOP PHOTO: Lester Siler is shown here in a 2006 mug shot taken at the Campbell County Jail.
Siler, a known narcotics trafficker who was on probation at the time, refused to sign a search warrant, according to court documents.
While the deputies all served federal prison sentences as Siler served a state prison sentence, Siler lodged a civil battle from the confines of his cell. He, and his wife, Jenny and the couple’s son, Dakota, filed a lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in damages for the pain and suffering inflicted by the officers.
In 2016, Siler saw his day in court when a Campbell County jury awarded him $90,000 in damages from deputies. Those damages were assessed to Will Carroll, $15,000; Sammy Franklin, $15,000; Shayne Green, $20,000; Josh Monday, $20,000 and Gerald David Webber, $20,000. Campbell County, as an entity, was assessed $10,000 by the jury with Senior Judge Paul Summers tacking on an extra $15,000 in damages.
Jenny Siler and Dakota Siler were awarded nothing in the matter.
That, among many other areas, was the core of Siler’s appeal.
However, last week, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee issued a 48-page ruling outlining why it was upholding the jury’s verdict.
Within the appeal, Siler argued the money awarded to him, and the lack of money for his family, was “below the range of reasonableness.”
His attorney, Herb Moncier, had asked the appeals court to consider each act perpetrated by the officers as single events. The higher court said no. The abuse of Siler was “continuous and unbroken in time,” Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr. wrote. Had the deputies left and returned to Siler’s home, that would have been a different matter, he said.
And while Siler, now 57-years old, testified to the “egregious” treatment at the hands of the deputies, he offered no proof of medical expenses or treatment of any kind, court records said. Furthermore, there was no expert testimony on his behalf. Siler was on disability at the time of the incident and his other income came from illegally selling narcotics so the jury had no lost wages to consider either.
Jenny Siler, who also testified as to the abuse of her husband, wasn’t present when it was inflicted nor was she injured. Adding to that, Lester Siler had been jailed for 10 of the couple’s 12 years of marriage and even though they had remained legally married, the couple had been living separate lives. The appeals court ruled the jury’s verdict of nothing was appropriate.
Dakota Siler, who was eight years old in 2004, was also given nothing by the jury with the appeals court siding with them. There was no proof of any physical or psychological harm inflicted on him by the deputies or that he even witnessed any of the events. In fact, the court noted that “despite many drug related difficulties within his family during his younger years,” Dakota Siler overcame the challenges and had “grown into a promising young man.”
Moncier also asked the appeals court to consider awarding him attorney’s fees. He was told no, and the cost of the appeal was assessed to the Silers.
Lastly, Siler wanted the money due him protected in the event any of the men filed bankruptcy. The trial court denied this request and the appeals court agreed. Moncier cited no law that required a trial court do that and none citing an error for refusing the request. Should that issue arise in the course of a bankruptcy, Susano wrote he was “confident” the court would handle it “appropriately.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/05/2019-6AM)