U.S. Open tennis official sues Los Angeles police for false arrest

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 19, 2013 11:38 PM
U.S. Open tennis official sues Los Angeles police for false arrest

By Dana Feldman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A 71-year-old tennis lineswoman arrested on a murder charge as she prepared to officiate at the U.S. Open but later cleared of bludgeoning her husband to death has filed suit against the Los Angeles police and others, her lawyer said on Monday.

Lois Goodman was arrested last August in New York on a felony murder warrant on accusations of killing her 80-year-old husband by hitting him with a coffee cup, Alan Goodman, at the couple's home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles in April 2012.

The charges against Goodman, who is well-known in tennis circles and had worked at the annual U.S. Open Tennis Championships tournament for at least the past 10 years, were ultimately dismissed in November.

Prosecutors at the time gave little public information to explain why they dropped the case. A Los Angeles County District Attorney's spokeswoman said at the time only that "additional information" had come forward.

In her federal lawsuit, officially registered in federal court in Los Angeles on Monday against the police, coroner and four individual police officers, Goodman claims false arrest and malicious prosecution.

Paraded out of a New York hotel in handcuffs in front of media, jailed and suspended from work as a referee, Goodman came under intense scrutiny for four months before she was finally cleared.

Her lawyer, Robert Sheahen, said Goodman's husband died in a tragic accidental fall, and her subsequent arrest caused her to suffer humiliation, physical pain from confinement in jail and damage to her career.

"She loves tennis, she loves her job. This was devastating to the tennis world. It's a very small world," Sheahen told Reuters by phone.

In the 21-page complaint, Sheahen said his client, in addition to suffering the loss of her spouse of nearly 50 years, had a truncated grieving period due to the arrest and being thrown into a "veritable dungeon" while incarcerated at Rikers Island, causing both emotional and physical distress.

Goodman also said the Los Angeles police intentionally lied to the media, claiming she was having an affair as well as online relationships with two U.S. Open officials.

Goodman's daughter, Joan, told the New York Post that her mother was anxious about making a comeback to the prestigious tennis event scheduled to begin August 26, adding that her mother is "grateful she has her job and wants to be able to do it without distraction."

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)