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$110,000 Settlement for North Carolina Prisoner Beaten By Guards

A North Carolina prisoner who claimed jailers brutally beat him in the Mecklenburg County Jail (MCJ) will receive $110,000 in exchange for dropping his lawsuit against the county.

Paul Midgett alleged that while imprisoned at MCJ on May 10, 2000, he was pummeled by guards Paul E. Gee, Doltheia F. Thigpen, Aerris B. Smith, Rodney M. Collins, and Gabriel Hill. Midgett said the beating caused serious bodily injury--for which he received medical treatment--and lasting emotional distress.

On May 11, 2001, Midgett filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina against the guards, the sheriff, and the county. He alleged claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, state tort law, and Article I, § 19 of the North Carolina Constitution. Midgett further asserted claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract for not providing a safe jail environment.

Prior to trial the County agreed to settle for $110,000. Sheriff Jim Pendergraph denied Midgett?s allegations but said the November 10, 2005, settlement agreement would cost the county less in the long run. ?I don?t want to give him a dime. I don?t like setting a precedent of paying for things we didn?t do,? said Pendergraph. ?But the attorney sat down and tried to figure out what it would cost if we went to trial. Just to pay for the attorney?s time would be more than we are going to pay out.?

Midgett, 45 at the time of the settlement, is currently serving a life sentence for robbing a bank and setting a man on fire. Midgett was represented by Attorney Janet Thomas of Charlotte, North Carolina. See: Midgett v. Mecklenburg County, USDC WD NC, Case No. 3:01-CV-00227.

Additional source: The Charlotte Observer

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Related legal case

Midgett v. Mecklenburg County