Okinawa cabbie awarded $290K in damages
March 16, 2009
OKINAWA CITY — An Okinawa taxi driver has been awarded 28 million yen in damages (about $290,000) in a lawsuit against two Marines convicted last year for assaulting him in a 2006 robbery.
Judge Yasushi Itami of Naha District Court found Pvt. Edward L. Miller Jr., 22, and Pvt. Brandon K. Pearman, 21, jointly liable for the damages. Both men are serving sentences in Japanese prison in the city of Yokosuka.
Miller and Pearman, both assigned to Camp Schwab, were sentenced in July 2008 to two years and 10 months for attacking the driver and fleeing with $3,700, according to court records. The driver, Rinsuke Makiya, filed a civil claim for compensation in December. He said in his complaint that he suffered from a sprained neck and post-traumatic stress disorder, which subsequently cost him his job.
Makiya’s lawyer, Tsutomu Arakaki, said his client plans to file an application with U.S. Forces Japan for the amount the court awarded.
"We have already informed U.S. Forces Japan through Okinawa Defense Bureau of our intention," he said.
It was not immediately known if the military would accept the request for this case.
A spokesman for Marine Corps Bases Japan indicated the military wouldn’t assume the payment.
"Civil judgments such as this are the responsibility of the defendants," 2nd Lt. Kurt Stahl, a Marine Corps Bases Japan spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes on Friday.
Meanwhile, Miller and Pearman are being processed for separation from the Marine Corps, Stahl said in a separate e-mail. The two could receive an "other than honorable" discharge, the least favorable discharge, after completing their sentences, he said.
Stars and Stripes reporters Cindy Fisher and Natasha Lee contributed to this story.