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Beaten Texas Prisoner Who Was Denied Safekeeping Awarded $87,500

On March 20, 2006, a federal jury awarded $87,500 to a Texas prisoner who was beaten by gang members after his request for transfer to protective custody was denied.

While imprisoned at the McConnell Unit in southeast Texas on March 10, 2003, Robert Clark, 23, formally requested removal from the general population. Clark had recently outed himself as a homosexual and renounced his membership in the Bloods gang. In addition to being threatened by other gang members, Clark feared that as a known homosexual he would be forced to pay for protection.

On March 15, McConnell prison officials recommended to the State Classification Committee (SCC)--the ultimate decision makers in such matters--that Clarks transfer request be approved. But Kelly Strong, a member of the SCC, determined the threat to Clarks safety was insufficient to warrant placement in protective custody.

On April 18 Clark was attacked by two Bloods and two Crips. The assault left him with a fractured right thumb, a mild concussion, and various cuts and bruises.

Clark sued, pro se, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that Strong was deliberately indifferent to his safety needs. His claim survived summary judgment and the U.S. District Court for the Southern district of Texas appointed him an attorney. At trial Clarks counsel argued that Strong was aware of the risks to his safety and chose to ignore them. His treating physician, Maximiliano Herrera, M.D., of Beeville, opined that Clarks thumb, which was surgically repaired with a metal plate and six screws, would likely result in continued pain and disability.

After deliberating for 5 hours, a jury found Strongs decision to be unreasonable and awarded Clark $87,500 in damages. Clark was represented by John T. Flood of the Flood & Flood law firm in Corpus Christi. Judge B. Janice Ellington presided. See: Clark v. Strong, USDC SD TX, Case No. C-04-006.

Source: VerdictSearch Texas

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Related legal case

Clark v. Strong