- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Court of Appeals says a trial judge erred when he cut a jury award to the family of a Scottsdale man killed in a police chase.

Alexander Ahmad, 24, died in 2007 when a car driven by a bank robbery suspect slammed into his vehicle. The suspect, who also was killed, was being chased by police.

The ruling issued Tuesday says Judge David O. Cunanan of Maricopa County Superior Court should not have slashed the amount jurors determined Ahmad’s parents were entitled to receive.

The Ahmads sued the Arizona Department of Public Safety for crash. They alleged DPS officers were negligent in chasing the suspect because he was being followed by police aircraft and the bag of money had tracking devices in it.

The jury awarded $30 million to the parents and determined DPS was 5 percent at fault. That made the state agency responsible for a $1.5 million judgment.

Cunanan slashed that to $10 million, saying it appeared excessive. The family’s award dropped to $500,000.

The appeals court ruling restores the original amount.

Lawyers for the state presented evidence that the suspect, Richard Dustin Schwartz, intentionally struck Alexander Ahmad’s car to avoid capture.

The appeals ruling said Cunanan didn’t state specific reasons for reducing the jury award and that there was “no lack of evidence to support the damages awarded in this case.”

According to the ruling, Arizona law instructs jurors to award “fair and just” damages in wrongful-death cases and that lawyers for the state were incorrect when they argued that economic factors must be shown.


This story has been corrected to show the last name of the judge is Cunanan, not Cunahan.

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