Appeals court sends jury award back to Maine

Posted Jan. 27, 2012, at 1:44 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A federal appeals court is asking Maine’s supreme court to answer unresolved questions about a Maine law that restricts the personal liability of government employees in lawsuits.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston on Thursday asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to sort out ambiguities in the Maine Torts Claim Act. One part of the law says the maximum liability for a government employee is $10,000, but another provision sets a $400,000 cap on a damage award.

A federal jury in 2010 awarded Michael Fortin $125,000 for injuries he suffered during a scuffle with police in 2007. The judge reduced the award to $10,000.

Fortin’s appeal argued the $10,000 cap doesn’t apply because the officer was covered by an insurance policy that triggered the higher limit.

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