A jury in United States District Court found that Hopkins County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Fenimore did not use excessive force or unlawfully arrest Jody Bender or her husband Jeffrey Bender in connection with a stolen vehicle.
Attorney Robert Davis, who represented Hopkins County and Fenimore, said the jury took about 55 minutes before delivering its verdict.
“They found that the county and its deputies had not committed false arrest, and the county and its deputies had not used excessive force against the plaintiffs,” the attorney said.
There had been an allegation by a witness that the plaintiff and his wife had stolen a vehicle from him. The witness, claimed they had repossessed a vehicle which he had purchased from Lone Star Auto Corral. The man said he had paid the loan off and held a clear title to the car.
At least two other vehicles, a Cadillac Escalade and a Dodge pickup, were also said to have been repossessed even though loans had been satisfied.
Jody Bender had been part of an automobiles sales dealership called Lone Star Auto Corral. She claimed that the business had split and that she was entitled to collect money from a number of different people who bought cars there, the attorney said.
According to Davis, it was later determined that they did not have a license to sell cars and Jody Bender did not have a license from the state of Texas to engage in financing activities.
She subsequently pled guilty to a theft offense, for which she received deferred adjudication. That was introduced into evidence at the trial, Davis said.
Jeffrey A. Bender and wife Jody Bender had sued Hopkins County and three deputies.
The suit against Hopkins County was dismissed before jury selection started. Paul Fenimore was a remaining defendant in the lawsuit, and the jury ruled in Fenimore's favor.
“They found there was no false arrest and there was no excessive force used,” Davis said. “They found completely in our favor.”
At the conclusion of the trial, Davis said he was pleased with the quick handling of the trial.
“We are very happy that the jury returned its verdict in a short period of time that Deputy Fenimore was not in any way liable to them and there was no wrong doing,” Davis said.
A similar suit against Hopkins County was dismissed the day before, just as jury members were to be selected.