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$98,500 Settlement In Jail Negligence Suit-Prisoner Beating

Darrin Rydberg, filed a civil law suit in 1997, against the Nassau County
Correctional Center (jail), for 3 million dollars in damages for the
jail's negligence in failing to protect him from being assaulted by
another prisoner (Porter), while Rydberg was incarcerated at the jail for
a drunk driving conviction.

On May 16, 1996, Rydberg was attacked by Porter, one day after the two had
argued about what TV show to watch. The day of the assault Porter shoved
Rydberg and knocked his food tray out of his hand at dinner. That incident
was witnessed by jail guard Michael Bullocks but Bullock failed to take
any kind of action. About 20 minutes after Porter shoved Rydberg, he
followed Rydberg into the bathroom and attacked him from behind. Rydberg,
was knocked unconscious, and suffered a broken jaw, a dislocated shoulder,
and was hospitalized for 12 days. The attack, was witnessed by jail
guards; Kevin Stanton, and Frank Bruno, but they failed to take action to
protect Rydberg.

The case went to jury trial, and the defendants claimed that they were not
responsible for the assault on Rydberg and that they could not have
prevented the incident. The jail guards that witnessed the attack,
testified that there was no way they could have prevented the attack, and
that they did not have cameras peering into the bathrooms. Bullock claimed
that he did not witness the food tray incident, and that he could not
have, because he had left work at 3:45 p.m., and the incident happened at
about 4:00 p.m., which is when dinner was served. However, Rydberg's
attorney Adam Orlow, argued that jail records showed that Bullock had
counted the prisoners at 4:00 p.m., which meant that he was there. A
prisoner who witnessed the incidents also testified, and corroborated
Rydberg's story.

The jury found in favor of Rydberg, and held that the jail was negligent
when they failed to prevent Porter from attacking Rydberg. Before the jury
could determine how .much money to award Rydberg, Nassau County settled
the case for $98,500.

Source: Newsday (New York, NY), March 1, 2001

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Related legal case

Rydberg v. Nassau County