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$7,500 Settlement After Colorado Federal Prisoner Beaten At Florence Facility

Colorado federal prisoner Marion Bryant, Jr., brought a combined Bivens, 42 U.S.C § 1983 and federal tort action against federal guards and officials for excessive force in 1997. He alleged cruel and unusual punishment leading to injury, as well as due process violations leading to double jeopardy during punitive hearings. The suit settled for $7,500 in 2003.

Bryant was housed at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Florence, Colorado, in 1995 when a riot broke out. During the riot he allegedly suffered injuries to his lips, shoulder and ribs at the hands of guards, while handcuffed, and dragged down stairs face first. He was placed in segregation and charged with various violations. The rioting charge was dropped for insufficient evidence at a hearing; however; the charge was filed again and, although the guards he requested as mitigating witnesses were not allowed to attend the hearing and exculpatory evidence was not presented, other guards' statements were used to secure a guilty finding and impose punishment. He was transferred to the United States Penitentiary (USP), also at Florence, where he alleged the same type of treatment. Bryant brought the action against the wardens at the FCI and USP Florence facilities and various guards for Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment and double jeopardy violations.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed Bryant's § 1983 claims as vague and frivolous under § 1915 screening requirements, and noted that the federal officials were not acting under the color of "state" law. The claims against the wardens and the individual guards in their official capacities were dismissed as claims against the United States and the court held that the United States had not "waived sovereign immunity for itself or it's agents under Bivens for correctional tort claims." The individual claims against the wardens were barred for lack of personal involvement. The Bivens and tort claims against the guards in their individual capacities were allowed to proceed. The remaining claims were settled for $7,500 in 2003. See: Bryant v. Cassaro, USDC, D. Colo., Case No. 97 RB 891(PAC) (Apr. 23, 2003).

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Related legal case

Bryant v. Cassaro

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