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Ex-Prisoner Awarded $150,000 after 'Savage Beating' Arranged by Guards

by Dale Chappell

Sussex County, New Jersey, has agreed to pay a former prisoner $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging guards at the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility (KDCF) – the county’s jail – put a “hit” on him and had him beaten.

After Robert Woodruff was convicted of burglary and sentenced, he was supposed to be housed at the Warren County Jail and not KDCF, according to a court order, because Woodruff had committed his crime against a KDCF guard. The court correctly feared that Woodruff would face retaliation by staff at the jail.

On April 30, 2013, guards from KDCF picked Woodruff up from the Warren County Jail after he was sentenced to four years and, ignoring the court’s order, transported him to KDCF. They then left his cell door open and three other prisoners came in and gave him a “savage beating,” Woodruff stated in his lawsuit. For the next 12 hours, he was ignored by jail staff and left to sit in his own blood.

Woodruff claimed that Leslie Port, a guard at KDCF and the victim of his burglary, put a “hit” on him and arranged his transfer to the facility so he could be “jumped” by the other prisoners. He accused KDCF staff of violating his rights under the state constitution and claimed they were “deliberate[ly] indifferen[t]” to his medical needs.

Woodruff also alleged the warden at KDCF “created and/or permitted a policy or custom under which unconstitutional practices occurred.” He said the warden had “failed to take appropriate remedial measures,” and violated his right to equal protection.

On October 4, 2017, Sussex County agreed to pay $150,000 to settle the lawsuit.

“He’s got permanent scarring to his chin and lip area,” stated Woodruff’s attorney, Jeffrey M. Patti with the law firm of Patti & Patti, LLC. “It is my fervent hope that the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office investigates this matter for official misconduct.”

Port, the KDCF guard alleged to have arranged the beating, has since retired and offered no comment on Woodruff’s lawsuit or the county’s settlement. See: Woodruff v. Strada, Sussex County Superior Court (NJ), Case No. SSX-L-281-15. 

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Related legal case

Woodruff v. Strada, Sussex County Superior Court (NJ), Case No. SSX-L-281-15