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$1.5 Million Settlement in Suffolk County Jail Class Action Toilet Suit

A $1.5 million settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit on behalf of approximately 4,000 former prisoners of Building 4 of Massachusetts’ Suffolk County House of Correction.

The complaint alleged Eighth Amendment violations for cruel and unusual punishment. When it was built, Building 4 lacked toilets or sinks in the cells. Prisoners had to seek permission from guards to use the bathroom during lockdown. This inadequate system that was based on the whim of guards to allow bathroom use resulted in some prisoners having to void their body waste into containers.

Class members were defined as all prisoners “who were housed in Building 4 of the Suffolk County House of Correction at any time from August 3, 2003 to February 7, 2008.” After the latter date, the Cell Push-Button System was in place “that allows a certain number of cells to release themselves to go to the bathroom.”

The lead plaintiffs, Daniel O’Neil and Michael Davis, “will receive a bonus payment of $10,000 or $20,000, which will depend on the Court’s discretion or to what party’s request it will accept. Likewise, the Court will determine whether to award $2,500 or $5,000 to class members Kunta Allen, Wayne Belger, Cacarr Brisbon, Joseph Kacvinsky and Charles Tucker.”

The remaining class members will receive a per diem based upon the number of days spent in Building 4 and the number of class members participating in the settlement. The total award cannot exceed $3,500 per member.

The attorneys representing the class, Howard Friedman and David Milton, will receive attorney fees of $500,000 from the settlement, which was preliminarily approved by the Court on June 14, 2010. See: Tyler v. Suffolk County, U.S.D.C. (D. Massachusetts), Case No. 1:06-11354.

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Related legal case

Tyler v. Suffolk County