Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

$20,000 Settlement in Arkansas Jail Prisoner’s Failure to Protect Suit

Officials in Baxter County, Arkansas agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a former prisoner’s lawsuit that alleged he was assaulted by another prisoner as a guard stood by and failed to intervene.

The suit was filed by Howard Johnson for events that occurred on January 30, 2007 at the Baxter County Detention Facility. While in “B Pod” that day, a guard, who was named as John Doe I in the complaint, brought prisoner Philip Rasmussen into the pod.

The guard stayed in the unit and watched as Rasmussen checked the lower and upper tier cells. As Johnson was sitting on a stainless steel table, Rasmussen came down the stairs and, in an unprovoked attack, struck him in the jaw and began assaulting him.

The guard did nothing but watch until other prisoners attempted to assist Johnson, at which time he pushed them away and allowed the beating to continue. Other guards arrived and separated Johnson and Rasmussen by using a chemical spray.

Johnson was taken to a local hospital, which could not fully treat his injuries. The Sheriff’s Office then released him from custody to avoid responsibility for his medical costs, the complaint alleged. Johnson was then taken to a hospital in Missouri where he underwent surgery and had his mouth wired shut. Despite that and several additional surgeries, his jaw never healed properly and he still experiences pain.

Rasmussen was later found guilty of second-degree battery and ordered to pay Johnson’s medical bills.

The $20,000 settlement with Baxter County was reached on June 14, 2012; the county did not admit any fault or liability. Johnson was represented by Mountain Home, Arkansas attorney John O. Russo. See: Johnson v. Montgomery, Circuit Court of Baxter County (AR), Case No. 2010-403-1.

Additional source: Associated Press

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Johnson v. Montgomery