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$1,000 Jury Award to Beaten Missouri Prisoner

A Missouri federal jury awarded a prisoner $1,000 on a state law battery claim. The award came after trial on several claims brought by Eugene Kenneth Jones-El for damages he incurred while imprisoned at Missouri’s Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center (ERDCC).

Jones-El went to the office of ERDCC social worker Scott Roper on June 9, 2003. The purpose of Jones-El’s visit to Roper was to request he make copies of a complaint Jones-El had filed in court, which challenged his conditions of confinement.

Roper requested to see the complaint and response letter, which he proceeded to read upon receipt. He ignored Jones-El’s request to discontinue reading the documents, making several phone calls to other prison officials about the complaint. Finally, Roper advised Jones-El that he had authorization to confiscate the complaint.

Jones-El politely grabbed the complaint, tore it up, dropped it on the floor, and walked out of Roper’s office. As he was waiting for the control room to open the outer door, Roper came up behind Jones-El and sprayed him with pepper spray on his head and face. He was also struck in the head and shoulders with physical blows before being handcuffed.

The incident resulted in segregation and other punitive measures, including a transfer. In his complaint, Jones-El made several claims. A federal excessive use of force and state law claim of battery survived preliminary proceedings and went to trial.

The jury found for Roper on the excessive force claim, but it found he had committed battery on Jones-El. It awarded Jones-El $500 in actual damages and $500 in punitive damages in its April 23, 2008, verdict.

At trial, Jones-El was represented by attorney James Krispin, who was appointed by the Court. In a post-trial motion, the Court granted Krispin $6,362.20 in attorney fees and costs, requiring Roper to pay $1,362.20 and the non-appropriated fund to pay the remainder. See: Jones-El v. Roper, USDC, E.D. Missouri, Case No: 4:05CV28. The relevant documents in this unpublished case are available on PLN’s website.

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Related legal cases

Jones-El v. Roper

Jones-El v. Roper