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Federal Bureau of Prisons Settles for $1.2 Million on Wrongful Death

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) elected to settle a wrongful death demand letter from the attorney for the deceased’s estate to the BOP. No claim was filed.

The deceased, Thomas M. Fitzgerald, was incarcerated under the control of the federal BOP at the U.S. Penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia, at the time of his death on December 9, 1999. Fitzgerald died while strapped to the bed by four-point restraint in an isolation cell. His death certificate indicated severe dehydration which produced elevated blood urea nitrogen levels, leading to brain damage, organ failure, and death.

Fitzgerald was 37 years old, survived by a large family, including an eleven year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

The attorney for the Fitzgerald’s estate, Daniel M. Soloway, outlined in his demand letter to the BOP his forthcoming strategy, which included a Bivens action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and claims for punitive damages and attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988.

The BOP agreed to pay the Fitzgerald estate $1,200,000.00. Attorney fees (20% per contingency feed contract – reduced from 33.5% per DMS and based on FTCA/pre-litigation statutory amount): $240,000. Less attorney costs: $786.52, to net $959,213.48 for the estate.



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