Martese Johnson Files Amended Lawsuit in Federal Court

Posted: Updated: Feb 02, 2016 04:40 PM

The University of Virginia student involved in a bloody encounter with state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents has filed an amended $3 million lawsuit in federal court.

Martese Johnson is suing the Virginia ABC, ABC Director Shawn P. Walker, and the agents - John S. Cielakie, Jared B. Miller, and Thomas S. Custer - involved in his arrest outside Trinity Irish Pub in Charlottesville.

Johnson’s original lawsuit claimed his civil rights were abused, labeling the late night encounter with ABC agents as assault (Count VI) and battery (Count VII). The counts also include false arrest (Count I), excessive force (Count II), failure to train or supervise (Count III), negligence (Count IV), and negligent supervision and training (Count V).

This version of the lawsuit was put on hold in January, pending changes and a ruling from Judge Glen Conrad.

Judge Conrad had said last month that he would likely cut two counts – Count III and V - from Johnson's lawsuit.

The amended complaint is the first step to getting the case back on track.

The lawsuit makes it clear that Johnson did not know law enforcement was attempting to stop him outside the pub on March 2015.

The amended suit adds something called "bystander liability" for ABC agent John Cielakie.

Judge Conrad is considering cutting Cielakie from the suit because he wasn't directly involved in the arrest. However, the amended claim says the agent "had a reasonable opportunity to prevent Martese's unconstitutional arrest and the harm that resulted."

Cielakie was the agent also involved in the arrest of UVA student Elizabeth Daly. ABC agents converged on Daly as she was leaving a Charlottesville Harris Teeter in April 2013. The agents thought the sparkling water she had was alcohol.

According to the civil lawsuit filed in Daly's case - which was later settled - Cielakie attempted to break the passenger window with his steel flashlight causing a loud bang. It was at that point, the lawsuit claims, Daly feared for her life.

The judge has stated that it will take time to make a ruling.

A five-day jury trial is scheduled to start October 3 at the federal courthouse in Charlottesville, though that date may be pushed back.

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