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Washington Retaliation Suit Settled for $2,500

On February 27, 2002, the Washington DOC settled a prisoner claim of retaliation for his having filed a grievance and a lawsuit, for $2,500.

Airway Heights Correctional Center prisoner Douglas Gallagher was employed in the food factory production facility on a day when three door handles were broken off and missing. Defendant Sgt. Michael Runnion grilled Gallagher, among other prisoners, to try to find both the handles and the culprits. Although Gallagher denied any knowledge, Runnion kept upping the pressure on him, including denying him security access to his job site.

Gallagher grieved the "stealth" job action; Runnion returned the fire by infracting Gallagher. Gallagher appealed the infraction and won, based upon insufficient evidence - but was unsuccessful in getting his job back. He sued pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in US District Court for retaliation, whereupon Runnion increased the level of confrontation. Pertinent papers disappeared from Gallagher's central file, and his custody was increased - calling him a "security risk."

Gallagher alleged in court both the facts of his experiences as well as the history of retaliatory practices at Airway Heights against those who grieve or sue. He added claims of violation of the Public Disclosure Act for failure to timely disclose a tape of his disciplinary hearing.

When Gallagher failed to crumble under the continuing retaliatory pressure, the state was faced with his suit. One year after Gallagher filed his first amended complaint with demand for jury trial, they settled for $2,500, with no admission of wrongdoing. It was further agreed that any outstanding debts against Gallagher's prison trust account would be paid before he could have access to the funds. See: Gallagher v. Runnion, USDC ED WA, Case No. CS-00-446 LRS.

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Related legal case

Gallagher v. Runnion