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$7,500 Settlement in Pennsylvania Prisoner’s “Nuisance Suit”

In January 2016, Pennsylvania’s Northumberland County agreed to pay $7,500 to settle a former prisoner’s lawsuit alleging he was denied access to the courts, visitation, recreation and receipt of incoming publications.

While at the Northumberland County Prison, Charles Picarella, Jr., who is now housed at SCI Benner Township serving a 10-to-20-year sentence, was denied visitation “from June 23 until July 20, 2014.” He claimed he was denied visits without notice or a hearing.

Picarella further alleged that, without notice, a hearing or an opportunity for review, he was denied the receipt of incoming publications. He also said he was denied recreation for eight days in both June and September 2014.

Picarella’s final claim stemmed from retaliation. He alleged that after he received a misconduct report on June 23, 2014, he was denied access to the law library and “appropriate legal materials” to challenge “the denial of his due process of law” at the disciplinary hearing.

His pro se federal civil rights action was called a “nuisance suit” by Northumberland County Commission Chairman Rick Shock. Since the $7,500 settlement reached with Picarella was under the county’s insurance deductible, it was a “practical move” to settle, said Solicitor Frank Garrigan. See: Picarella v. Johnson, U.S.D.C. (M.D. Penn.), Case No 1:14-cv-01874-CCC-CA.

Additional source: Daily Item

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Related legal case

Picarella v. Johnson