03 Jan Press Release – Victim of Sexual Assault By Birmingham Police Officer Awarded $10 Million In Damages
BIRMINGHAM – On Thursday, December 28, 2017, a hearing was held at the Jefferson County
Courthouse, downtown, in front of Circuit Court Judge Michael G. Graffeo in reference to a
lawsuit filed by Daria Collins against the City of Birmingham and Harry E. Miller, Jr. Collins was
sexually assaulted by Harry E. Miller, Jr., while he was on duty as a police officer with the
Birmingham Police Department.
According to court documents, the incident giving rise to the lawsuit occurred on September 13,
2007 while Officer Miller was on duty with the Birmingham Police Department. Based on court
filings, Collins had checked into an America’s Best Inn on Messer Airport Highway while her
home was being renovated on September 13, 2007. That same day, Officer Miller stopped Mrs.
Collins. Collins told Officer Miller her name and then returned to her room at the America’s Best
Inn. By Mrs. Collins’ account, Officer Miller followed her back to the room, forced his way
through the front door, and then proceeded to sexually assault her. Collins was just seventeen years
old at the time.
At the hearing, Judge Graffeo awarded damages to the Plaintiff totaling $10 million dollars against
Harry E. Miller, Jr., the defendant in the lawsuit. That amount was further broken down into
compensatory damages and punitive damages. The Court awarded $3,500,000 in compensatory
damages to compensate Mrs. Collins for the trauma she endured as a result of the sexual assault.
The Court also awarded $6,500,000 in punitive damages.
Notably, Miller had a history of abusing his position as a Birmingham police officer. Prior to
sexually assaulting Mrs. Collins, three other women complained to the Birmingham Police
Department that Miller had attempted to use his position to coerce and intimidate them into
granting sexual favors. The Birmingham Police Department suspended Miller multiple times
before ultimately firing him on November 15, 2007—just two months after he assaulted Collins.
Mrs. Collins was represented by Birmingham attorneys Matt Garmon and Todd Wheeles of the
law firm of Morris, Haynes, Wheeles, Knowles & Nelson, and by Anthony J. Piazza.
This follows a $28 million-dollar judgment obtained in Clay County Circuit Court in February
2017 on behalf of three individuals who were sexually abused by the former Jail Administrator of
the Clay County Detention Center in Ashland, Alabama. Todd Wheeles of the Morris Haynes firm
represented the three inmates against the Jail Administrator. Common to both of these cases, a
public official in a position of power chose to abuse that position and become a predator. In both
cases, a public state official harmed the very people they were meant to protect.
For more information please contact the law firm of Morris Haynes at (205) 324-4008.