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$98,500 Settlement in Jail Negligence Suit for Prisoner Beating

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

On May 16, 1996 Rydberg was attacked by Porter, one day after the two had
argued about which TV show to watch. The day of the assault Porter had
shoved Rydberg and knocked his food tray out of his hand at dinner. That
incident was witnessed by jail guard Michael Bullock, 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, suffered a broken jaw and 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 a jury trial and the defendants claimed they were not
responsible for the assault on Rydberg. The jail guards that witnessed the
attack testified that there was no way they could have prevented it, and
stated they did not have cameras that observed the bathrooms. Bullock
claimed he did not witness the food tray incident, and could not have
because he 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 indicated Bullock had counted the
prisoners at 4:00 p.m., which meant he was there. A prisoner who witnessed
the incidents also testified and corroborated Rydberg's account.

The jury found in favor of Rydberg and held jail officials were negligent
when they failed to prevent Porter from attacking Rydberg. Before the jury
could determine how much money Rydberg should be awarded, Nassau County
settled the case for $98,500. See: Rydberg vs. Nassau County, Nassau Co.
Supreme Court, Case No. 8669/97.

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

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Related legal case

Rydberg vs. Nassau County