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D.C. Prisoner Receives $19,500 Settlement for Slip-and-Fall

The United States and the District of Columbia agreed on June 4, 2004, to pay Robert M. North $19,500 for injuries he received from falling down a set of stairs while handcuffed. North was arrested on Thanksgiving Day 2000 by Federal Marshals. Since all federal buildings were closed for the holiday, North was taken to the Superior Court for the District of Columbia’s holding cells.

While sitting in a second floor cell block waiting to be arraigned and for bail to be set, another detainee plugged a toilet and flooded the second floor, Federal Marshals evacuated the detainees to the third floor court room. Each detainee was handcuffed behind the back and led up a flight of stairs.

As each detainee was led up the stairs, water was tracked on the stairs, which became wet and slippery. North was one of the last detainees to be taken up the stairs. While ascending the flight of stairs North slipped and fell backwards. Because he was cuffed behind the back, North was unable to break his fall and sustained injuries to the lumbar area of his back.

North alleged the Marshals were negligent in transporting him up the wet stairs, causing his injury. The defendants contended there was no documentation of North’s accident and the incident never occurred. Moreover, they contended the detainees were taken down a flight of stairs, not up a flight as North claimed. A court reporter’s transcript of the arraignment and bail proceedings, however, confirm the detainees were evacuated from the second floor to the third.

The United States paid North, $11,000 and the District of Columbia paid $8,500. North was represented by Washington attorney Geoffrey D. Allen. See: North v. United States of America, USDC, D.D.C., Case No. 1:02-CV-01835-HHK.

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North v. United States

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