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New York Prisoner Awarded $25,000 For Assault

On April 12, 2005, a Bronx, New York, jury awarded $25,000 to a man who was severely beaten by other prisoners in the mental health section of the Rikers Island jail complex.

The 18-year-old plaintiff was imprisoned at Rikers Island for a robbery that he was later acquitted of. Following the death of his grandmother, the plaintiff was transferred--at the direction of a physician--to a dormitory in the George Motcham Detention Unit (GMDU), the Islands mental health unit. As he stowed his belongings, a group of GMDU prisoners attacked and stabbed the plaintiff and robbed him of his property. He suffered lacerations to his back and face that required 53 stitches to close.

The plaintiff sued the City of New York in state court claiming the jailers assigned to the dormitory were negligent in their supervision. The guards contended the plaintiff caused his own injuries when he attacked another prisoner, Robert Chambers, after arguing with him about the phone. The plaintiff denied he had argued with Chambers, and Chambers testified on the plaintiffs behalf at trial. The plaintiff further alleged the guards had given the other prisoners razor blades and had conspired with them to steal the property of other prisoners and divide the spoils.

Following a three-day trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $25,000.

The City was found 70% liable and Chambers 30%. The plaintiff was represented by Andrew F. Plasse of Manhattan. See: McCollum v. City Of New York, Bronx County Court, Case No. 014847/1996.

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Related legal case

McCollum v. City Of New York