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West Virginia Prisoner Sued By Victims Mother Following $50,000 Award

West Virginia Prisoner Sued By Victims Mother Following $50,000 Award

On August 16, 2005, state prisoner Mark Allen Harris was awarded $50,000 for facial injuries he sustained when he fell out of a jail van. Two days - later, the mother of Harriss 12-year-old niece, whom he was convicted of sexually assaulting, filed a $10 million civil lawsuit against him.
In 2002, while jailed on the sexual assault charges, Harris fell out of the back of a transport vehicle as he was being led into the Kanawha County Judicial Annex. Unable to break his fall because he was handcuffed, Harris fell on his face, shattering facial bones and knocking out several teeth. Harris sued.

After finding guard Anthony Leonard and his employer at fault, the jury awarded Harris a total of $50,000: $30,000 for past pain and suffering, $10,000 for loss of enjoyment of life, and $10,000 for annoyance and inconvenience. Harris was represented by attorney Paul Stroebel of the Charleston law firm Stroebel & Johnson. See: Harris v. Leonard, Kanawaha County Circuit Court, Case No. unknown.

Following the verdict, Greta Thomas, the victims mother, sued Harris in Kanawha County Circuit Court seeking compensatory and punitive damages for her daughters injuries. She also asked the court to prevent Harris from collecting the $50,000 judgment.

Harris is currently in prison. He received a life sentence for kidnapping and molesting his niece in 2001, under the states three-strikes law. In 1988 he was convicted in the stabbing death of a 2-year-old, Deric Baylor. Before Harris went to prison for that crime, he escaped from the Kanawha County Jail and spent a month on the run. Harris served the next 10 years in prison for the boys death and felony escape before he was released in 1999.

Sources: Charleston Gazette,,

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Related legal case

Harris v. Leonard