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New York Prisoner Awarded $411,000 in Failure to Protect Suit

The New York State Court of Claims in Rochester, NY has awarded a state prisoner $411,000 for injuries he received when another prisoner attacked him.

Michael Schindler, a 34-year-old New York state prisoner, was playing "two-on-two" touch football at Groveland Correctional Facility when one of the other players attacked and severely injured him. Although football is prohibited, the guard on duty merely told the player that the game could be dangerous, but did nothing to prevent it. Schindler filed suit in state court alleging that negligent supervision by the guard led to his injuries. He did not allege that the attacking player was a know risk for assault.

In a non-jury trial, the court found that "an articulated prohibition against participation in a football game, which is ignored and thus tacitly approved by staff, couple with a lack of supervision, combined to be a proximate cause of the incident." The court emphasized that it was not finding that all sports could lead to violence and thus should be prohibited.

Schindler had multiple facial fractures and damage to the trigeminal nerve from having been thrown to the ground and kicked in the left side of the face. This caused pain and increased facial sensitivity, drooling on the left side, frequent sinus infections, and receding gums on the upper left teeth. He had undergone surgery and had three metal bone-plates installed. He "suffered and will continue to suffer constant daily pain without change, and without any hope for improvement." Therefore, the court awarded him the following for pain and suffering: $50,000 for the first two years following the injury and $9,000 per year for the remaining 39-years of his life expectancy. Schindler was represented by Stephen J. Lacher of Cellino & Barnes, Buffalo, NY. See: Schindler v. NY, No. 96692 (NY Court of Claims-Rochester, 4/24/01 (liability), 2/11/02 (damages)).

Source: The New York Jury Verdict Reporter.

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Related legal case

Schindler v. New York