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Missouri Prisoner Awarded $16,000 In § 1983 Use-Of-Force Action

Missouri Prisoner Awarded $16,000 In § 1983 Use-Of-Force Action

On April 4, 1990, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Missouri awarded $16,000 to a prisoner who was shackled to a bed and beaten
by guards at the Jackson County Jail.

Plaintiff Neil Houston, 24, claimed that while he was imprisoned at the
jail, the jail supervisor violated his civil rights by ordering him
stripped naked and shackled by his hands and feet to, a bed for several
days. Houston further claimed that he was subjected to excessive use of
force when 12-14 guards stormed the holding area in order to put down a
protest undertaken by prisoners in response to being denied certain benefits.

Houston sued two guards and the jail supervisor in their individual
capacities seeking general damages for cruel and unusual punishment and for
restricting his person without justification, and punitive damages for the
guards' malicious and intentional use of excessive force.

Defendants denied liability claiming that Houston provoked the guards by
reaching for a weapon, thus justifying their use of force, and that the
prolonged shackling was due to Houston's violent conduct, which defendants
determined was a security threat.

At trial the jury heard evidence relating to Houston's six felony
convictions and the fact that he was serving combined sentences of 155
years. Nevertheless, the jury found in Houston's favor and awarded him a
total of $16,000 ($15,000 general damages, $1,000 punitive damages) and
attorneys' fees of $20,706.

Houston's attorneys, appointed by the court, were Grant L. Davis, P.C. and
James Bartamus, P.C., both of Kansas City, Missouri. See: Houston v. James,
USDC WD MO, Case No. 87-0654-CV-W-5.

Source: National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis

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Related legal case

Houston v. Thomas

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