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$25,000 Settlement for Pennsylvania Prisoner Injured in Work Squad

A $25,000 settlement was reached in a lawsuit by a former Pennsylvania prisoner who was injured using a jackhammer on a work squad.

Jeffrey Thomas was a prisoner at the work camp of the State Correctional Institution – Rockview on January 6, 2011, when he was assigned to perform work at the warden’s house. According to Thomas, he was ordered by his supervisor, Mark Shutika, to jackhammer a concrete pad.

Having never operated a jackhammer before, Thomas expressed his concern with operating the equipment and the possibility of being hurt. Shutika threatened Thomas with a misconduct ticket and loss of privileges if he refused to operate the jackhammer.

Under that threat, Thomas proceeded to operate the jackhammer after being given brief instructions by another prisoner. Shortly after going to work on the pad, the jackhammer jumped, crushing Thomas’ right foot. He was diagnosed at the hospital with a fracture to the right hallux (big toe), which required surgery to insert pins.

Thomas fully recovered and was released from prison eight months later. He claimed his rights were violated by failing to provide him with proper training or equipment (steel toed boots), putting him at risk of a harm causing his injury. The parties reached a settlement on August 7, 2014. Thomas was represented by attorney Neil E. Durkin of West Conshohocken. See: Thomas v. Shutika, USDC, M.D. Pennsylvania, Case No 4:12 – cv – 00692.

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Related legal case

Thomas v. Shutika