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Michigan Prisoner Beaten By Guards Awarded $6,004

On November 17, 2006, a Michigan jury awarded state prisoner Robert Brooks $6,004 for a beating he received at the hands of two guards.

Brooks, who was serving time in a maximum-security Michigan prison for a 1982 murder, claimed he was attacked and beaten in his cell by guards John Stowell and Pete Youngert.

According to his lawsuit, Brooks, 50, had a verbal altercation with Stowell in August 2000. The altercation ended with both men spitting on each other when Brooks refused to exit his cell. In October 2000 the men again crossed paths after Stowell wrote Brooks two disciplinary citations.

The next morning, between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., Brooks claimed Stowell and Youngert entered his cell, beat him with their fists and flashlights, smothered him and threatened to kill him.

Brooks immediately reported the incident and requested the surveillance tapes, which officials claimed were unavailable because they were continually recorded over.

Brooks sued in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan claiming the assault violated his Eighth Amendment rights by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment and excessive force.

After deliberating for 1 1/2 days, the jury awarded Brooks $3,000 in punitive damages, $1 for the assault and battery and $1 for excessive force against each of the two defendants, for a total award of $6,004.

Attorney Mark S. Pendery of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who represented Brooks, said the judge, Ellen S. Carmody, was surprised by the low verdict but was unable to grant an additur due to statutory constraints. Pendery said the jury believed the guards had assaulted Brooks but thought he exaggerated his injuries.

The court awarded $5,623.63 in costs and $9,006 in attorney fees on March 21, 2007; the fee award was limited by the PLRA?s 150% cap. See: Brooks v. Youngert, USDC WD MI, Case No. 4:03-CV-00137.

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Related legal case

Brooks v. Youngert