The “Norfolk Four,” four U.S. Navy sailors who were wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of an 18-year-old woman in 1997, might sue the city that wronged them for $68 million.
Three of the four sailors were sentenced to one or more life sentences without the possibility of parole, and one was convicted of rape and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison. A federal judge in 2016 overturned their convictions based on a false confession, declaring the men innocent.
Not only is the case intriguing from a social standpoint, but also a financial one – if the group sues the city of Norfolk, Virginia, the city might have to increase taxes or slash its budget in order to cover the cost of the lawsuit.
Norfolk, a self-insured city, has $7 million in a reserve fund it uses to pay lawsuit judgements, according to a report. Where some cities have insurance policies, Norfolk does not, and would be responsible for the entire cost.
The city has recently received claims that Norfolk police officers, including then-Detective Robert Glenn Ford, “coerced false confessions from the men and hid evidence that could have kept them free,” according to The Virginian-Pilot.
“It is time for [Derek] Tice to receive the compensation for the many years of his life that were unjustly taken away from him,” wrote his lawyer.
Joseph Dick, Danial Williams and Eric Wilson could also file suit if the city does not begin settlement negotiations by June 1, according to their lawyers.