TRUMBULL COUNTY Officials want Warren police case to go Hollywood



A producer for the new reality series says she hopes the local case will be used.
By PEGGY SINKOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- A lawsuit alleging police brutality may soon be settled Hollywood-style.
A lawsuit filed against city police earlier this year by John Rogers of Warren has caught the attention of producers for a new NBC reality law program.
Rogers' lawsuit states he was beaten by police in May 2003. He names the city, Police Chief John Mandopoulos, and patrol officer Doug Hipple as defendants.
David E. Kelley is executive producer of the show, currently untitled.
Nina Weinstein, the supervising producer for the new prime-time series, said she is hoping that the Rogers case will be used. She noted that show is still in the "early stages."
"We have a lot of work to do," Weinstein said.
Greg Hicks, city law director, and Clair Carlin, Rogers' attorney, have agreed to have the case settled on the show.
"Oseola Productions, Inc. and NBC have offered the parties and counsel the opportunity to resolve this claim through binding arbitration," according to a motion filed Wednesday by Carlin, in U.S. District Court in Youngstown. "Upon formal acceptance by Oseola Productions, Inc., plaintiff will file a motion to dismiss."
Sent information on case
Carlin said that a few days after he was contacted by Weinstein, he sent her all the information he had on the case.
"They seemed very interested, and I think they'll take it," Carlin said. He added that he believes the show will air this fall.
Hicks said he was originally contacted by Weinstein on another case, but that one had been settled.
"The case will be settled on the show, and we will be out of it," Hicks said. "The city will no longer have to pay to defend it."
According to a press release by Oseola Productions, the show is seeking litigants that are serious and passionate about the case.
"The cases we select will have to be sufficiently complex to provide a challenge for the program's contestants, all members of the bar in good standing with trial experience, yet be able to be tried in one or two days," the press release states.
The press release also states that the "TV law firm" will be led by a managing partner, who will decide which lawyer will be eliminated each week.
"Cases will be resolved just as they would be in court, only in this forum they will be tried on prime-time television," the press release states. An arbiter will decide all the cases.
Cap on awards
Rogers, 23, of Woodbine Avenue, is seeking nearly $2 million. To take part in the show, the litigants must consent to a cap amount. Show officials would not state the cap limit.
The suit says Rogers was arrested May 4 on suspicion of driving a stolen all-terrain vehicle. Rogers says in the lawsuit that he had been given permission by the owner to ride the vehicle that day.
The suit says Rogers was handcuffed, placed in a police car and driven to the police station. Once there, Hipple dragged him out of the car and beat him with his fists, the suit says. The alleged assault happened behind the station.
Rogers says in the suit that he was then taken inside the station, where officers threw him against a wall and demanded that he make a statement about the all-terrain vehicle.
Before Rogers' arrest, the all-terrain vehicle hit the door of a cruiser driven by Sgt. Eric Merkle. Merkle was injured and treated at a local hospital.
sinkovich@vindy.com

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