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$350 Awarded New York Prisoner for Assault

A New York Court of Claims has awarded Five Points Correctional Facility
prisoner Arnold Fordham $350.00 for injuries he received from an assault by
his cellmate. Fordham's suit alleged prison officials were aware of the
threat his cellmate raised and failed to provide adequate security to
protect him.

Fordham's claim stems from an incident on July 8, 2003. On that day,
Fordham's cellmate requested a cigarette. When Fordham refused that
request, the cellmate grabbed him and threw him into the sink and toilet
bowl. Fordham stabbed the cellmate with a pen. The cellmate, who was
significantly larger than Fordham, repeatedly hit him with a cane.

After guards noticed the cellmate was bleeding, both prisoners were taken
to medical, while his lawsuit claimed a back injury, Fordham's medical
report did not mention such an injury. He received medical attention for
superficial injuries to his face, the side of his head, and his elbow, but
was not admitted to the infirmary or hospitalized.

Fordham alleges the cellmate was a known enemy who was mentally disturbed,
that the state negligently failed to protect him despite actual knowledge
of the threat. While Fordham claimed he told guards he feared for his life
and requested a cell change, he presented no documentation to support that
contention, and guards testified otherwise.

The claims court, however, determined the cellmate's assault was
foreseeable and easily avoidable by separating him from Fordham. Because
his injuries were minor, the court awarded Fordham $350, on March 24, 2005.
Fordham proceeded pro se. See: Fordham v. New York, New York Court of
Claims, Rochester, Case No. 108346.

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Related legal case

Fordham v. New York