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$125,000 Awarded to Pennsylvania Prisoner over Excessive Force by Guards

by Christopher Zoukis

Cornell L. Warren, a diabetic prisoner held in a Pennsylvania state prison, was awarded $125,000 in damages after a jury found that a guard used excessive force against him that resulted in a broken finger.

     The problem began on December 13, 2007, when Warren allegedly assaulted guards because he believed his cell assignment was inappropriate based on his medical condition. In February 2008, Warren claimed that guards were harassing him because of the alleged assault, prompting him to make multiple requests to be transferred. His requests were denied.

     On May 16, 2008, guards allegedly pinned Warren to the ground during a cell extraction when Sergeant Salvatore Cardenas broke Warren’s finger. By the time surgery was performed on it a month later, Warren maintained that he had endured weeks of pain and had lost full use of his finger.

     On October 14, 2008, Warren filed a complaint in federal court against Cardenas and Superintendent Mardi I. Vincent. He argued that Cardenas had used excessive force and Vincent knew of and encouraged the harassment of Warren instead of protecting him from it. These actions allegedly violated the Eighth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

     On June 12, 2012, after a two-day trial presided by Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan, the jury awarded Warren $125,000 — $50,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

See: Warren v. Cardenas, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 3:08-cv-00250-LPL (June 12, 2012)

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Related legal case

Warren v. Cardenas, et al.