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New York Prisoner Settles Excessive Force Case for $25,000

Michael Slater, a New York State prisoner, will receive $18,000 in settlement of an excessive force civil rights claim against two guards at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. The settlement also provides for an additional $7,000 in attorney fees and costs to be paid to Prisoners' Legal Services of New York (PLS) which represents Mr. Slater. The stipulation of settlement was approved and signed by United States District Court Judge Frederick J. Sculin, Jr.

Mr. Slater claimed that on October 4, 1994, he was assaulted by prison guards Aristides Maldonado and Darryl Menard in the Industrial Building at the prison. Mr. Slater claimed that he was first assaulted by Menard, then handcuffed behind his back, and further beaten by both guards. He claimed the assaults consisted of blows about the head and body by Menard with his fists and by Maldonado with his baton. Injuries were alleged to include multiple contusions, abrasions, and other injuries to this face, back, legs and hands. The lawsuit also claimed that the two officers filed false reports in order to cover-up the alleged beating including false institutional misbehavior reports which resulted in a lengthy period of solitary confinement for Mr. Slater.

The defendants denied Mr. Slater's allegations. They claimed they never used excessive force upon Mr. Slater. Instead, they asserted that Mr. Slater attempted to assault Menard, after which both guards used reasonable and necessary force to restrain him.

The settlement agreement in the case provides that neither party admits any wrongdoing or responsibility for the incident, or the validity of any of the allegations made in the action. Mr. Slater was represented by Michael Cassidy, Esq., of Prisoners' Legal Services of New York in Plattsburgh. The defendants' were represented by Senta Siuda, Esq., a New York State Assistant Attorney General in Albany. See: Slater v. Menard . Case no. 95-cv-897 (FJS)

This was the third excessive force lawsuit filed by PLS against Officer Maldonado on Clinton prisoners' behalf. One of the prior cases involving a 1985 incident was also settled. That case involved six prisoners and a number of guards, including Officer Maldonado. The six prisoners settled for a total of $46,500. The other case, which involved a 1981 incident, went to trial. In 1989, U.S. District Court Judge Howard Munson ruled that Maldonado and another Clinton guard used excessive force against John Hayden. Judge Munson awarded Mr. Hayden $12,300 in compensatory damages for his various injuries. Prior to issuing an award of punitive damages, the parties settled for an additional $12,300 for Mr. Hayden, as well as $43,000 in attorney's fees.

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Related legal case

Slater v. Menard