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$3,000 Settlement for NY Prisoner Assaulted, Harassed by Guards

by Joe Watson

Michael Modlenaar, a former prisoner at the Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, N.Y. settled a 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983 complaint in August 2008 for $3,000 after alleging that multiple prison guards had beaten, harassed and “framed” him, and that medical staff was indifferent to his injuries.

Modlenaar claimed that, while a prisoner at the Malone facility, he was, among other things, harassed by a guard named LaClair and assaulted by LaClair and two other guards--Cyr and Arquitt--who allegedly kicked, stomped and punched him. Modlenaar also alleged that he was examined by a Nurse Mullen, who refused any medical attention. He also claimed that Nurse Administrator N. Smith refused to have his physical therapy continued to treat his injuries.

Modlenaar said that, in retaliation for his filing of grievances against LaClair, that LaClair “framed” him with possession of tobacco. Laclair wrote the report as “a mere coverup for his actions; assault in retaliating against plaintiff for filing complaints against him,” Modlenaar wrote in his pro se complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, seeking relief and/or damages to protect rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

The defenses raised included denial of any action that was contrary to constitutional, statutory, regulatory, or common law; protection of qualified immunity; complaint barred by res judicata, collateral estoppel, and statute of limitations; failure to exhaust administrative remedies; and no claim for mental or emotional injury without prior showing of physical injury.

In an answer to the complaint, the defendants denied every allegation that said they had acted in any way contrary to constitutional, statutory, regulatory, or common law. Mullen also filed an answer and made the same denials. A stipulation was entered into, under which Modlenaar agreed to discontinue the suit in addition to discontinuing two other actions.

After the execution of the stipulation, the defendants agreed to pay Modlenaar $3,000 in full settlement of all three actions, and no partial sum could be paid for the settlement of any one of the three actions. Judge Gary L. Sharpe signed the stipulation. See: Modlenaar v. LaClair, U.S.D.C. (N.D. NY), Case No. 9:07-CV-00045.

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Related legal case

Modlenaar v. LaClair