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Report: Louima legal team to hire Johnnie Cochran Jr.

August 27, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Haitian immigrant who claims he was tortured and sodomized by police plans to hire O.J. Simpson defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran Jr. to argue his $55 million lawsuit against the city, the New York Post reported today.

The amount of damages sought by Abner Louima also will be amended to seek $450 million in punitive damages, one of Louima’s lawyers told the newspaper.

``It goes toward the outrageousness of the act to our client,″ attorney Brian Figeroux said. ``The police have to be punished.″

Figeroux would not comment on the report that Cochran will join him and Sanford Rubenstein on Louima’s legal team.

Four police officers have been charged with beating Louima, 30, and sodomizing him with a toilet plunger in a stationhouse bathroom Aug. 9. He was still hospitalized with a ruptured colon and bladder.

Rubenstein said the attack has had one positive effect for Louima: His efforts to bring his 6-year-old daughter to New York from Haiti were speeded up and she was to arrive Thursday.

Louima, who lives in Queens with his wife, Micheline, has been trying since 1993 to bring his daughter to New York. Abnia Samantha Louima was six months old when he left for the United States.

After Louima was injured, U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns pressured the American consulate in Haiti to speed up the case. Towns’s office learned Tuesday that the girl had received a visa that will allow her to seek permanent residency. Abnia will live with her father, her stepmother and the couple’s 1-year-old son, Abner Jr.

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