Compass Lexecon’s Pro Bono Client, the Estate of George P. Floyd, Reaches Historic $27 Million Wrongful Death Settlement

Compass Lexecon’s President Professor Daniel R. Fischel Leads Compass Lexecon Team

On May 25, 2020, George P. Floyd, Jr., a resident of the City of Minneapolis (the “City”), was arrested by Minneapolis Police Department officers. After one of the officers pressed his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, he became unconscious and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Mr. Floyd’s death sparked widespread protests in Minneapolis and that later spread to cities throughout the U.S. and other cities globally.

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by the Trustee of George Floyd’s family against the City of Minneapolis and the four officers accused of causing Mr. Floyd’s death. The ability of the City to pay a substantial settlement or judgment was expected to be a major source of contention between the parties.

Counsel for the Trustee approached Compass Lexecon’s President, Professor Daniel Fischel, about being an expert for the family on the ability to pay issue. Professor Fischel accepted the engagement and offered under the circumstances for he and Compass Lexecon to go forward on a pro bono basis. With that understanding, Professor Fischel, together with Compass Lexecon Executive Vice Presidents Andria van der Merwe and Todd D. Kendall, prepared an analysis based on a detailed review and evaluation of the City’s finances, outstanding debt, and other liabilities which also compared the City along these dimensions with other large cities. The Compass Lexecon team also analyzed market evidence, including commentary from credit agencies, and concluded that the City had the ability to pay a settlement well in excess of a typical wrongful death payment.

On March 12, 2021, the parties reached a $27 million settlement, which attracted national attention when it was announced. The commentary focused on the societal significance of the settlement including its historic size. For example, The New York Times reported that “the settlement was among the largest in a case of police misconduct,” and substantially larger than settlements in other well-publicized cases of police killings in recent years. Counsel for Mr. Floyd’s family said that the settlement was the “the largest pretrial settlement ever for a civil rights claim.” A portion of the settlement amount will be used to benefit the neighborhood where Mr. Floyd was killed.

Compass Lexecon worked with Nicolette Ward of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, who represented the Trustee for the Next of Kin of Mr. Floyd.