Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Man's wrongful-imprisonment lawsuit dismissed

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda on Friday dismissed a wrongful-imprisonment lawsuit brought by Danny Brown, a Toledo man who spent 19 years in prison for a 1982 murder conviction that was later reversed based on new DNA evidence.

Brown was granted a new trial in 2001 for the December, 1981, murder of Bobbie Russell, but prosecutors chose to dismiss the case, and Brown was released from prison. Since then, he has been fighting for exoneration and compensation for the years he spent behind bars.

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Brown first filed a wrongful-imprisonment suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court in 2002, but the complaint was dismissed and the dismissal upheld by Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals. He filed a second action in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in 2012 but voluntarily withdrew it.

The most recent lawsuit was filed in 2015 and had been on track for a bench trial beginning Feb. 20.

In his 25-page opinion, Judge Zmuda granted the state's motion for summary judgment, saying Brown had failed to file his claim within the statute of limitations.

“The delay in filing this case can only be ascribed to [Brown],” Judge Zmuda wrote. “When viewed in this light, [Brown] is in no different position than a plaintiff who, having been injured from a motor vehicle accident, waited too long to file his personal injury cause of action. Justice requires equal application of the law such that a party failing to act promptly is precluded from now acting.”

Patrick Quinn, a Columbus attorney who represented Brown, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates was pleased with the decision, saying the case has dragged on far too long.

“It's time to put it to rest,” she said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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