| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 27 A federal appeals court in New
York on Tuesday overturned a $95,000 jury award to a driver who
said Suffolk County should compensate him for seizing and
auctioning his Ferrari sports car following his May 2009 drunk
The driver, James Ferrari, said Suffolk County violated his
due process rights by impounding his 2003 Ferrari 360 Spider
after police caught him driving while intoxicated, and in
possession of crack cocaine, at over 100 miles per hour (162
kph) in the village of Bellport, court records show.
Ferrari, who had a prior DWI record, later pleaded guilty,
had his license suspended and surrendered title to the car.
But he said it would have been enough for the county to let
him post bond rather than seize his car in the first place.
Writing for a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals, however, Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston
said municipalities can impound vehicles for public safety
reasons in appropriate cases.
In a 47-page decision, Livingston said a lower court judge
erred in effectively requiring Suffolk County to show that
Ferrari might destroy his car if he got it back, and that lesser
measures would not protect its financial interests.
She said that once the county demonstrated why it should
keep the car, it became Ferrari's burden to show otherwise.
"We cannot hold, as Ferrari effectively asks us to, that any
marginal benefit afforded drivers like him by the added layer of
process he seeks is so paramount that the Constitution of the
United States requires Suffolk County to adopt a process at
retention hearings that could put its residents at risk,"
Andrew Campanelli, a lawyer for Ferrari, declined to comment
on the ruling, saying he was reviewing the decision. He said
there was no relationship between his client's name and car.
Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said in an interview:
"Our initial review certainly leaves us pleased with the
The case is Ferrari v County of Suffolk, 2nd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals, No. 15-975.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan