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$330,000 Verdict in MI Beating

On October 8, 1999, a federal jury deliberated four hours before returning a $330,000 verdict in favor of Richard Johnson. Johnson, a Michigan state prisoner, had been imprisoned at the Ionia Correctional Facility. While being moved to a different cell, Johnson was shoved from behind by a prison guard (FNU) Howard. Johnson fell over the cell's toilet and his head became lodged between the toilet and a cabinet. Howard then punched Johnson, picked him up by the feet and twisted his body while Johnson's head was still wedged between the toilet and cabinet. Johnson suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck and shoulder.

Johnson filed suit claiming Howard's attack violated his Eighth Amendment rights and another guard, (FNU) Martyr, was liable for witnessing the attack and not protecting him from Howard. The jury found Howard liable for the assault and awarded Johnson $30,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages for the attack. The jury deadlocked on the claim against Martyr. The jury rejected Johnson's claim that he was attacked because he is black. Johnson was represented by Kalamazoo, Michigan attorneys Randall S. Levine and Anastase Markov. See: Johnson v. Howard, USDC, ED MI, Case No. 1:96-CV-662.g

Source: Michigan Trial reporter

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Related legal case

Johnson v. Howard