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Hawaii Prisoner Injured In Fight Awarded $25,427

On February 1, 2005, a Hawaii court awarded $25,427.00 to a prisoner who claimed he was assaulted by another prisoner.

Plaintiff Lael Samonte, 47, contended that while imprisoned at the Halawa Correctional Facility on May 22, 2002, he was attacked and knocked unconscious by fellow prisoner Jonathan Tagatac. Samonte was treated at the prison infirmary for multiple contusions, a black eye, visual problems, and a concussion.

Following the altercation, Samonte sued the state under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failing to protect him. Tagatac was named as a third-party defendant.
At arbitration, Michael H. Tsuchida determined the state had not been negligent in failing to protect Samonte from assault. Tsuchida noted that Samonte and Tagatac were not cellmates, there had been no prior incidents between them, evidence suggested the altercation was mutual, and, guards responded immediately.

Against Tagatac, however, Tsuchida entered a judgment in the amount of $50,000 in general damages and $1.00 in special damages. Samonte recovered half this amount--$25,000 in general damages and $.50 in special damages--based on Tsuchida's finding that he was 50% comparatively negligent. Samonte was also awarded costs of $426.50.

Samonte was represented by attorney William F. Sink. Tagatac was not represented. See: Samonte v. State of Hawaii, 1st Circuit Court of Hawaii, Civil No. 040189.

Source: Advocates Research Company

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Related legal case

Samonte v. State of Hawaii