Today’s news:

Owner of Flushing parlor loses lawsuit against city

Byung Hyun Cho, who ran Pine Village Spa, claimed officers assaulted him and his wife and unlawfully arrested him on Jan. 12, 1998 when an employee allegedly agreed to perform oral sex on the undercover cop, according to the New York City Law Department.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown dismissed the criminal charges against Cho and his wife four months after the arrest, Michael Cervini, the Cho's attorney, said.

Byung Hyun Cho, the former owner of the massage parlor located at 32-02 Linden Place, and his wife sued the city for $3.5 million for a neck injury he said he sustained during his arrest, according to the law department.

In the original suit, filed on Dec. 29, 1998, the Chos asked the city, the Police Department and three officers to reimburse them for a total of $10 million. They said they suffered psychological damages, loss of dignity and privacy as a result of the arrests, according to the suit.

Byung Hyun Cho said he sustained a severe neck injury as a result of the police's use of excessive force during his arrest.

But the city argued that Cho had a pre-existing disc disease that he was correlating to his arrest in order to profit from the ordeal, the law department said.

The case went to trial before Judge Peter Kelly in State Supreme Court in Queens and after four weeks of testimony the jury cleared the city of any financial responsibility for Cho's ailment within 45 minutes Friday.

Cervini, Cho's attorney, said he was disappointed with the jury's evaluation of the evidence.

"In speaking with members of the jury afterwards, which my office did, we were concerned regarding some of the comments that they made," he said. "This case, in essence was a false arrest, excessive force case."

He said that because the officers did not strike Cho with a club, members of the jury did not think his suit was justified.

"My attitude is I don't care if it's a club or an officer uses his hands unnecessarily. That's unacceptable," Cervini said.

Dawn Baker, assistant corporation counsel in the city's tort division, took the opposite stance.

"The jury made the right decision. It credited the testimony of the officers and rightfully concluded that more was being offered at this establishment than simply a massage," Baker said. "The jury also correctly concluded that the police legitimately used a reasonable degree of force to place a resisting suspect under arrest."

The city's attorneys found that a physician had doctored Cho's medical records in order to make it seem as though he had been injured during arrest when he actually suffered from a degenerative neck problem, according to the law department.

"The public is recognizing more and more the difficult decisions that police officers face each day," Michael Cardozo, head of the New York Law Department, said. "We are pleased the jury supported the officers."

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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