Federal judge considers motions in wrongful death lawsuit against Bangor over use of Taser

Phillip A. McCue of Bangor was tasered by a police officer Sept. 12, 2012. He died five days later at Eastern Maine Medical Center after he had two cardiac arrests. His father, Michael McCue of Jackson, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in March of this year.
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Phillip A. McCue of Bangor was tasered by a police officer Sept. 12, 2012. He died five days later at Eastern Maine Medical Center after he had two cardiac arrests. His father, Michael McCue of Jackson, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in March of this year.
Posted June 24, 2014, at 3:49 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A federal judge took under advisement motions to dismiss portions of a lawsuit filed by the father of a man who died after Bangor police used a stun gun to subdue him during an arrest.

Michael McCue of Jackson in March sued the City of Bangor, six police officers and Taser International Inc., the maker the stun gun, over the death of his son, Phillip A. McCue. He died at a local hospital five days after he was shocked with a Taser on Sept. 2012, the night police responded to a noise complaint at 18 First St. and McCue took off running.

Bangor police have said McCue was out of control, according to a previously published report. The autopsy report stated he died as a result of complications from overdosing on the street drug bath salts.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison held a hearing on the motions Tuesday morning in federal court in Bangor. There is no timetable under which he must issue a decision.

Attorneys for the City of Bangor and six police officers in their motion urged the judge to strike portions of the complaint because they are “immaterial, impertinent, scandalous, and which involve evidentiary allegations in violation of the simplicity requirement of [the court’s rules of evidence],” according to court documents.

One example of objectionable language in the complaint cited by Bangor attorney Frederick J. Badger Jr. stated that “following Phillip McCue’s death by police, as captured on the audio and video record, police officers are clearly heard to be engaging in what can only be deemed to be mockery of Phillip McCue, efforts to minimize their wrongdoing, coordinate their stories and to avoid any potential adverse fallout or responsibility from their killing of Phillip McCue.”

Badger also expressed concern in his motion about the publicity, the complaint and the objectionable language the attorney said it contains received when the Bangor Daily News published a story about the lawsuit and posted the complaint on its website.

“By virtue of [the] plaintiff’s conduct, an untold number of Bangor Daily News’ online viewers — and potential jurors — have been exposed to plaintiff’s complaint that includes improper commentary about evidence that may be used at trial,” Badger wrote in his motion.

Taser International Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona, has asked Nivison to dismiss it from the lawsuit. Roy Pierce, the Portland attorney representing the Arizona firm, argued in his motion that Taser’s product warnings are “adequate as a matter of law to warn about the risk of injury or death on susceptible individuals who exhibit signs of agitation or excited delirium”

After the hearing, David Van Dyke of Lewiston, who represents Michael McCue, called the issues discussed “fairly insubstantial.” He said the lawyers on all sides most likely will agree on the language to be used in the complaint, and it will be refiled.

A trial date has not been set.

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