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$78,214 Awarded to Massachusetts Prisoner Assaulted by Other Inmates

by Christopher Zoukis

A prisoner incarcerated in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (MDOC) who warned guards of an impending attack, was assured by them of his safety, and then attacked, was awarded $78,214 by a Superior Court jury.

     Dennis Pritchard, 58, began receiving threats of assault by another prisoner while in the custody of the MDOC. He allegedly told the guards about these threats but was told they would take care of him. Somehow, the other prisoners broke free from solitary confinement, ran the length of the jail, climbed up several flights of stairs and attacked Prichard. Pritchard claimed that he suffered multiple contusions, cuts and scrapes to his head and face.

     Pritchard filed a complaint in Suffolk County Superior Court against the MDOC, alleging that the guards failed to protect him despite their awareness of the situation and their assurances. Aside from physical injuries sustained during the attack, Pritchard claimed to suffer some post-traumatic stress.

     The MDOC, in its defense, argued that the guards were unaware of the threat and gave Pritchard no explicit assurances that they could keep him safe from the other prisoners.

     After two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Pritchard, awarding him $78,214.

See: Pritchard v. Dept. of Corrections, Suffolk County Superior Court, Boston Division, Case No. SUCV2000201725 (Mar. 29, 2012)

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Related legal case

Pritchard v. Dept. of Corrections