City of Cornelia Settles with Injured Infant for One Million Dollars


A lawsuit filed by lawyers with Finch McCranie, LLP over alleged civil rights violations concerning the deployment of a flashbang stun grenade has been partially settled with the City of Cornelia by the parents of baby “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh. The City’s insurance company has agreed to pay $1 million on behalf of the City and its officers in order to partially settle allegations against members of the City of Cornelia’s Special Response Team who participated in the search and seizure operation which resulted in the injuries to Baby Bou Bou. During the search, a flashbang stun grenade was thrown into a playpen in which 19-month old Baby Bou Bou was sleeping. Since that time he has undergone numerous surgeries to his face and torso.

This settlement marks the second settlement made by a member of the Special Response Team arising from the incident. Previously, Habersham County paid $1 million to resolve claims arising from the search and seizure operation. The case filed by the Phonesavanhs asserted claims against not only Habersham County and the City of Cornelia Special Response Team, but also against members of the Mountain Judicial Circuit NCIS Task Force. The claims remain pending in federal court in Gainesville.

The settlements paid by Habersham County and the City of Cornelia, while helping to defray past medical expenses, do not sufficiently resolve future medical costs for additional surgeries awaiting the injured child. Nor do the settlements fully compensate other members of the family who were also injured during the raid, including the father who experienced a torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery after being allegedly manhandled by one of the officers participating in the search.

Notwithstanding these two separate settlements, the litigation rising out of this matter continues, particularly against members of the Mountain Judicial Circuit NCIS Task Force whom the Phonesavanh’s contend violated their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights by obtaining the search warrant at issue through the use of false and/or recklessly misleading statements.

The Phonesavanh family is being represented by the Atlanta law firm of Finch McCranie, LLP (Richard W. Hendrix and Steven R. Wisebram).

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About Richard Hendrix

Richard W. Hendrix is a former state and federal prosecutor who has more than 30 years of experience in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has also served as a mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR).

Since joining Finch McCranie in 1985, Mr. Hendrix has built an extensive litigation practice focusing on wrongful death and serious personal injury cases as well as federal white collar criminal defense cases. He has successfully represented injured parties in personal injury cases throughout the state of Georgia. Mr. Hendrix has also effectively defended business and individuals, including a former US Congressman, against indictments and grand jury investigations. In 2006 and 2008-2012, he was selected to Georgia Super Lawyers.

He is admitted to practice in Georgia and South Carolina. Mr. Hendrix is licensed to appear before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit.

From 1979-1985, Mr. Hendrix served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He was also Associate Independent Counsel for the investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1991-1992.

Mr. Hendrix graduated with cum laude honors from Davidson College and he received his law degree from Emory University. Since 1992, Mr. Hendrix has been an Adjunct Professor of Litigation at Georgia State University College of Law. He is also a Master of the Bench with the Lamar American Inn of Court where he works to enhance the professional, ethics and skills of the legal community.

Mr. Hendrix has also authored numerous articles including: “High Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent By-Standers,” The Verdict (Summer, 2015) “Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Tort Cases for Victims of a Crime,” The Verdict (Fall, 2007); “A Refresher On the Federal Tort Claims Act,” The Verdict (Winter, 1999); “Rule 16 and the Jencks Act: A Need for Legal Reform,” Calendar Call (Winter, 1996); “Corporate Criminal Liability: The Need for Effective Compliance Programs,” South Carolina Lawyer (March/April, 1993); “Crossing State Lines in Wrongful Death Actions: Traps for the Unwary,” The Verdict (Fall, 1990); and “White Collar Crime: New Tools for Prosecution,” The Atlanta Lawyer (Summer, 1986)