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Ohio DOC Pays $2,000 to Prisoner Burned on Exposed Steam Pipe

Ohio DOC Pays $2,000 to Prisoner Burned on Exposed Steam Pipe

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has agreed to pay prisoner Ivan Lacking $2,000 for injuries he received in a unit stairwell while on the way to the dining hall.

On October 27, 2011, Lacking’s arm was severely burned when inattentive guards released nearly 150 prisoners into a narrow stairwell with an exposed steam pipe. Maintenance crews had been replacing asbestos insulation in the stairwell with non-contaminated insulation, but failed to finish the job. Prisoners regularly take the stairwell to the dining hall one wing at a time, which keeps the number of men in the stairwell at approximately fifty.

But at 12:45 p.m. on October 27, three wings were released simultaneously and Lacking found himself jammed up against the exposed steam pipe, resulting in third-degree burns to his wrist. He filed suit against the ODRC for negligent breach of procedures and failure to maintain proper control over prisoners.

Lacking’s suit alleged that prior to the incident, the ODRC contracted with an improperly trained maintenance crew to strip the asbestos insulation from the pipes. He argued that this resulted in portions of the pipe being left exposed in a manner that resulted in burns and permanent disfigurement to his right wrist. He also claimed that the prison failed to cover the pipe or warn prisoners of the potential danger.

The defendants countered that the exposed pipe did not create an unreasonably dangerous condition; they argued that because Lacking traversed the stairwell “on a daily basis, at least six times a day for meals and recreation,” he had ample opportunity to be aware of the danger.

The case never went to trial. Represented by attorney Richard F. Swope, Lacking agreed to accept a $2,000 settlement for his injuries. See: Lacking v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio Court of Claims, No. 2012-03735.


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Related legal case

Lacking v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction