Crime doesn't pay. In fact, it can be very expensive.
Billy Heisler learned this lesson last week when a New Jersey judge ordered him to pay Joshua Hahn $5.9 million. Heisler shot Hahn, a Mercer County sheriff's officer, during an off-duty altercation in 2007.
Hahn had intervened in a domestic dispute between Heisler and his sister outside a local pizzeria.
He's still awaiting sentencing, having been convicted of attempted murder just last month. A civil suit filed by Joshua Hahn is responsible for the $5.9 million verdict.
Hahn was awarded $1.5 million in pain and suffering; $963,000 in lost wages; and $2.5 million in punitive damages, reports the Times of Trenton. His wife was awarded an additional $1 million for her losses.
Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez found Heisler to have acted "with reckless indifference to the value of human life," reports the Times of Trenton. He further explained that Billy Heisler fled the scene, which showed "particularly callous and evil conduct."
Though these findings weren't necessary for the judge to find liability, they increased the amount of the overall award. In fact, they likely account for the majority of the $2.5 million in punitive damages.
Punitives are generally awarded in battery lawsuits only when a defendant acted callously and in an outrageous manner. They're designed to punish extreme conduct and deter similar actions.
Despite the size of the award, it's unclear whether Joshua Hahn will see any of the money. Billy Heisler may not have sufficient assets to pay the judgment.
- New Jersey man who shot off-duty officer must pay $5.9M (Associated Press)
- Economic Recovery for Accidents and Injuries (FindLaw)
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