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$49,500 Settlement in New Jersey Jail Beating Suit

A mentally ill former New Jersey prisoner and Salem County officials agreed on March 4, 2016 to settle a lawsuit that alleged guards at the Salem County Jail beat him to the point where he had to be hospitalized.

Harold Jones, a resident of Minotola, New Jersey, is both diabetic and schizophrenic. On June 27, 2013, he was driving his car on U.S. Route 40 when it ran out of gas. When the New Jersey State Police encountered Jones, they found he had an outstanding traffic warrant. Police contacted Jones’ sister, who informed them about his medical condition. He was then transported to the Salem County Jail.

Once there, Jones had a “medical episode” related to his disabilities. The guards apparently misinterpreted his condition and thought he was resisting and being difficult.

Two days later Jones was released from jail and taken to a hospital, where he was found to be in an “altered mental status with elevated blood sugars up to 1000, fractured ribs and broken toes,” according to the lawsuit. No other information was provided regarding the circumstances of Jones’ injuries.

“We make no admission of wrongdoing,” Salem County solicitor Michael Mulligan said when settling the case. “The whole circumstance really is compounded by just the inability of the plaintiff to communicate” his issues.

Jones had sued in federal court, naming the state and county as defendants as well as New Jersey State Trooper J.J. Smith, Sheriff Charles Miller and jail warden Raymond Skradzinski. In addition to claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the suit alleged violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and state court claims of negligence and assault and battery.

Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Jones was to receive $49,500, inclusive of all costs and fees. “We settled it early in the proceedings and we were satisfied with the settlement,” said attorney Joseph Grassi, who represented Jones. See: Jones v. County of Salem, U.S.D.C. (D. NJ), Case No. 1:15-cv-03093-NLH-AMD. 


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Related legal case

Jones v. County of Salem