Sexual Abuse Victim Brooke Taflinger Wins More Than $2.5 Million in Damages

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, September 25. YESTERDAY, Brooke Taflinger was awarded more than $2.5 million in damages after winning her civil case against Central Indiana Aquatics and Brian Hindson. The default judgment against Hindson and Central Indiana Aquatics was entered on May 24, 2012, while the damages were finalized yesterday by Judge Tanya Walton Pratt. Hindson and Central Indiana Aquatics failed to answer the complaint by Taflinger, leading to the default judgment against them.

Hindson pled guilty to 16 counts of child pornography after secretly videotaping swimmers, including Taflinger, as they changed in the locker room. Hindson installed video cameras in a shower room, where he videotaped girls from 1988 to 2007. Hindson received a sentence of 400 months in federal prison, and has been banned for life by USA Swimming.

Yesterday, the court awarded Taflinger $1.5 million in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages and $37,000 for other costs. It denied a future medical damages claim of $360,000 by Taflinger.

Taflinger originally sued not only Hindson and Central Indiana Aquatics, but also USA Swimming and the Westfield-Washington School Corporation. Pratt summarily judged for USA Swimming and Westfield-Washington School Corporation to be removed from the lawsuit..

In the original lawsuit, Taflinger sued on the grounds of “intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy by public disclosure of private facts, invasion of privacy by physical intrusion, and negligent supervision.”

The lawsuit has been contentious. In an early judgment regarding attorney's fees, Judge Pratt made specifics remarks regarding the tone of various complaints. Judge Pratt stated that USA Swimming “fires back, in an overheated fashion.” Judge Pratt also made mention that “the complaint itself contained some intemperate rhetorical flair” from Taflinger's lawyer.

Judge Pratt made a point to admonish the language coming from Taflinger's lawyer:

“Indeed, many of Taflinger's claims against the school were weak, and Taflinger's complaint was hardly a model of professionalism. In particular, the line about the schools operating as a “child pornography factory” was beyond the pale. Going forward, counsel may want to be more circumspect when it comes to choosing his language. There is often a fine line between colorful language and outlandish hyperbole; when counsel crosses that line, aggressive advocacy begins to resemble shameless grandstanding. Accordingly, counsel should always err on the side of caution.”

“The Judge in the Taflinger case granted a Summary Judgment in favor of USA Swimming and dismissed the case on May 8, 2012,” said USA spokesperson Jamie Olsen in response to a request for comment.