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Alabama Diabetic Prisoner Stomped On and Retaliated Against by Guard Awarded $20,000

by John E. Dannenberg

A diabetic Alabama prisoner lying on the floor of his cell due to suffering from his diabetes condition had his leg stomped on by a guard. When the prisoner grieved the abuse, another guard filed a phony disciplinary report against him. Proceeding pro se, the prisoner sued both, winning $5,000 in compensatory damages and $150,000 in punitive damages. The latter was reduced to $15,000.

On August 8, 2002, Cornelius Jackson, an insulin-dependent prisoner at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, was having reactions from his poorly treated and monitored diabetes condition. Jackson alleged that Lt. Kenneth Clark came into his cell and stomped on his foot while he lay prone on the floor, and then roughly handled him.

Jackson complained in writing to the warden, adding that guard Nathan Cash filed the phony disciplinary report in retaliation for Jacksons having had the temerity to complain about the foot stomping. Jackson sued both in U.S. District Court and he was granted a jury trial where he prevailed against both guards on June 2, 2005.

In a post-trial motion, the defendants challenged the jurys punitive damages award as excessive relative to the small compensatory award, here a 29-1 ratio. The court agreed, and fixed the punitive damages at three times the compensatory damages, or $15,000. See: Jackson v. Clark, U.S.D.C. ND AL, Case No. 2:02-2327.

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Related legal case

Jackson v. Clark