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Jury Rejects Deputy's Claim Over Taser Shock

December 23, 2005|From Associated Press

An Arizona jury rejected claims Thursday that Taser International Inc. failed to adequately warn users of its stun guns' potential dangers.

The lawsuit, brought by an injured sheriff's deputy, was the first to go to trial among about three dozen personal injury, wrongful-death or excessive-use-of-force lawsuits that have been filed against Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser. A handful of other cases have been dismissed.

"We think this is a critical milestone to have won this case," Taser Chief Executive Rick Smith said. "It just doubles our resolve on those other cases."

Retired Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff's Deputy Samuel Powers sued the nation's largest stun gun manufacturer after he was injured in a 2002 training exercise. He suffered what doctors testified was a compress fracture in his spine after being shocked with a Taser.

At the time, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office required all officers who carried Tasers to get a Taser shock to help them understand the weapon's paralyzing effect, a rule that has since been dropped. Tasers deliver a 50,000-volt jolt through two barbed darts that can penetrate clothing.

Powers' attorney, John Dillingham, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

During the trial, Dillingham argued that Taser didn't provide adequate warnings and rushed the weapon to market without sufficient medical testing.

The company began selling Tasers to law enforcement in 1998, and more than 8,000 U.S. law enforcement agencies have armed officers with them.

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