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Massachusetts Jail Prisoner Awarded $20,000 For Crushed Knuckle

Massachusetts Jail Prisoner Awarded
$20,000 For Crushed Knuckle

A superior court in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, awarded $20,000 to a man who sustained a knuckle fracture when a cell door was allegedly opened without warning.

Plaintiff Gary Taylor, 47, was arrested for disorderly conduct and intoxication and imprisoned in the Boston Municipal Courthouse Jail. On May 15, 1997, Taylor was consulting with his attorney from inside the cell, holding on to the bars as he talked. According to Taylor, a guard came by and, without warning, opened the cell door, crushing Taylor's hand between the bars.

Taylor sustained a boxer's fracture to his knuckle which, in turn, caused minor nerve damage. Taylor contended the injury made it difficult to manipulate fine tools used in his work as a sculptor and that changes in the weather caused his knuckle to ache.

Taylor sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts claiming the jail guard was negligent in failing to warn him before opening the cell door. Taylor sought damages for pain and suffering only; he made no claim for lost wages or medicals. At trial, Taylor's criminal attorney testified that no warning had been issued.

The commonwealth defended, alleging that jail guards always issued warnings before opening cell doors. The commonwealth reasoned that if Taylor and his attorney did not hear the warning in this instance, it was probably because of the noise level in the jail.

On February 18, 2004, after deliberating three and a half hours, the jury found in Taylor's favor and awarded him $20,000.

Taylor was represented by Simon Dixon of Lawrence, Massachusetts. See: Taylor v. Commonwealth Of Massachusetts , Suffolk County Superior Court, Case No. SUCV200000880.

Source: The Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island Verdict Reporter

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Related legal case

Taylor v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts