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CDC Settles Excessive Force Suit for $1,000

On October 26, 1998, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) paid $1,000 to settle an excessive force suit filed by pro se prisoner John Gann against nine named prison officials.

On January 7, 1994, Gann, Alex Bermudez and Carlos Ramirez were housed in the Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU) at New Folsom during a shakedown. The three prisoners became involved in a dispute with unit prison guards concerning the manner the cell searches were being conducted and the destruction of their personal property.

When guards ignored their complaints, Gann, Ramirez and Bermudez protested by destroying their food trays and barricading themselves in their cells. They were then "cell extracted" by the prison "goon squad," shot at in their cells with a 37mm gas gun, and severely beaten with batons. Gann was then placed in a "potty watch" strip cell and denied medical treatment for his injuries.

Gann filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that prison officials violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by using excessive force and denying him medical treatment for the injuries they inflicted on him. Gann also filed suit on behalf of Bermudez and Ramirez, but the court dismissed them as plaintiffs because Gann was unable to represent them or obtain their signatures for the complaint.

Gann represented himself pro se throughout the duration of the litigation. The case had been set for a jury trial when the CDC decided to settle the case by paying Gann $1,000 on October 26, 1998. Gann decided to settle when his only two witnesses, whose testimony was crucial to the case, suddenly became unwilling to testify. Readers should note this is an unpublished disposition. See: Gann v. Lytle, USDC EDCA, Case No. CIV-S- 95-0022LKK-JFM.

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Related legal case

Gann v. Lytle