LEXINGTON (WLTX) -- A jury has ordered the Richland County Sheriff's department to pay $1.6 million in a civil lawsuit.
The jury agreed with plaintiff Kay Paschal in the suit that claimed abuse of process and malicious prosecution.
"It's a tragic situation where this young lady has endured some very serious indignities at the hands of some rather aggressive law enforcement and it's just a shame that it happened," said Paschal's attorney Jake Moore.
According to the lawsuit, she was arrested and charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult in connection with the multi-million dollar estate of a late Columbia businessman. Two of David Wallace's children believed they had discovered a financial issue with a purchase made by Paschal.
However, there was not enough evidence to back that claim and the charges were dropped. Paschal won the $1.6 million verdict against the Richland County Sheriff's department last week.
"You've got a Richland County officer coming in Lexington County swearing out a warrant or an affidavit issued by a Lexington County magistrate. Not disclosing to the Lexington County Magistrate that the Lexington County Sheriff's Department found no probable cause. Then we believe, contrary to the statutes, signed a warrant that she didn't have the authority to sign," said Moore of the case.
He says his client was told to turn herself into law enforcement. When she did, he says she was left without clothing or underwear wrapped in a sheet in Lexington County custody.
According to Moore, the arrest caused Paschal to miss a probate court hearing related to the Wallace case.
"That is certainly the inference that we argued to the jury. That yes, it was done on purpose it was not a coincidence. The sheriff's department testified that it was just a coincidence, that of all the time this was being investigated it just happened to be that day," he said.
Moore says Paschal, an attorney herself, was left to enter court in shackles and has since been suspended from the South Carolina Bar.
"She and I are both fearful of repercussions from the sheriff's department. We have seen the way this thing works first-hand and quite frankly, both she and I are afraid of what they might do," said Moore.
The Richland County Sheriff's Department released a statement saying the county's attorney will likely appeal. It said Sheriff Lott stands behind the deputies involved in the case. The department says criminal charges are still pending and they will pursue them.