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$250,000 Awarded To Virginia Guard After Stabbing By Prisoner Upheld

Virginia State pro se prisoner Lament Douglas appealed a prison guard's counterclaim grant and the dismissal of the denial of medical care allegations in a federal action resulting from a 1999 mutually injurious altercation. The judgment was affirmed.

Douglas stabbed Supermax guard Jack McCarty, alleging prior assault by the guard, and was stunned by several guards. Douglas brought a civil rights action and also alleged inadequate medical care and hostility from nurse Meade following the incident. The medical claim was dismissed and McCarty’s counterclaim was granted, exceeding the sought $100,000. The initial jury award of $2 million was judicially reduced as excessive to $250,000. Douglas appealed arguing that the court erred in: conferring jurisdiction in the counter claim; awarding more than what McCarty sought; dismissing his claims against Meade; requiring prepayment for non inmate witnesses; not imposing discovery sanctions or holding a hearing; and not granting a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that: the medical claims lacked requisite deliberate indifference; the magistrate's failure to address standing for the counterclaim was harmless; the award was justified considering the life threatening injuries; federal courts are not authorized to pay of waive witness fees on behalf of an in forma pauperis civil litigant; no abuse of discretion existed for his discovery sanction claim; and the newly discovered cumulative testimonial evidence would only have been used to impeach McCarty's testimony regarding his injuries. See: Douglas v. Meade, 87 Fed. Appx. 299(4th Cir. 2003).

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Related legal case

Douglas v. Meade