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Attorney for Ryan Ferguson looks to split civil case

Ryan Ferguson is still trying to get more than $8 million dollars he was awarded by a federal court, after his murder conviction was overturned.

Ferguson’s attorney, Michael Berry, asked a Boone County judge to deal with just one of his eight claims in order to possibly speed up the case.

Judge Nanette Laughrey awarded Ferguson $11,004,000 in psychological damages and attorneys fees after a hearing in July. The city paid $3.75 million as part of the settlement agreement, and cited Travelers Insurance’s denial to cover them.

Ferguson and Berry sued Travelers Insurance, the company that provided law enforcement and general liability insurance to the city of Columbia from 2006 to 2011. Travelers refused to cover the city when Ferguson sued in 2014, stating that the alleged acts of the six officers that put Ferguson behind bars happened before Travelers issued their policies.

Berry wrote on Thursday that dealing with their first claim – that Travelers had a duty to provide the officers insurance – would quicken the rest of the case. If the judge agreed that Travelers breached that responsibility to protect the officers, it would “dispose of Ferguson’s claim for actual damages” in later claims. If the judge ruled in Travelers favor, Berry wrote, then it would take care of the entire case.

Ferguson was arrested as a suspect in the 2001 murder of Kent Heitholt on March 10, 2004. A jury convicted him in Dec. 2005. Travelers argued that since it did not cover the city of its police officers during that time, it has no responsibility to “indemnify” the officers, or pay for any judgments against them.

The policies also only cover damages arising out of bodily injuries. Ferguson’s award from federal court came from psychological damages done by 10 years of incarceration.

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