Fortin v. Titcomb, No. 10-2370 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
A federal jury awarded Fortin $125,000 in damages against a police officer after finding that the officer negligently used force in arresting Fortin in 2007. In a post-judgment ruling, the district court reduced the award to $10,000, the maximum set by the Maine Tort Claims Act for the personal liability of government employees, Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, 8104-D. On appeal, Fortin argued that the MTCA cap is inapplicable here because the officer was covered by an insurance policy that triggered a higher limit under the Act. The First Circuit determined that the issues were unresolved under state law and certified two questions to the Maine Supreme Court. Whether Fortin is limited to recovery of $10,000 depends on the unexplored relationship among several provisions of the MTCA governing damage awards against government employees. Analysis may also require determining what interpretive rule should be applied to ambiguous insurance policies providing MTCA liability coverage.