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$45,000 Settlement Ends Pennsylvania Prisoner Federal Assault Suit Against Guards

by Christopher Zoukis

A former prisoner at Fayette County Prison, Pennsylvania, who was allegedly assaulted by prison guards on several occasions resulting in physical and emotional injuries, agreed to an out-of-court settlement totaling $45,000.

     While Timothy Michael Reckner was incarcerated, he was cooperating with authorities in a homicide investigation involving another prisoner. According to Reckner, between August 17 and September 2, 2009, he was physically assaulted by guards Joseph George Yeagley and Bruce McCombie for being an informant. The guards also allegedly let other inmates know that he was a “snitch.” He claimed that his phone service was shut off and that Yeagley destroyed a letter Reckner wrote to his mother describing the abusive treatment.

     On June 6, 2011, Reckner filed a civil rights claim in federal court against Yeagley, McCombie, Warden Larry Medlock, the Fayette County Prison Board and the County of Fayette. He argued that the defendants acted under color of law to violate his First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, committed assault and battery, and acted negligently.

     Reckner alleged numerous physical injuries, including a displaced patellar, instability of the patellar, torn meniscus, back sprain and strain, contusions, lacerations and permanent scarring. He also claimed a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, mental discomfort, anguish, distress, great pain, and suffering. He sought compensation for his injuries, medical expenses, present and future loss of earnings, as well as punitive damages, attorney's fees and court costs.

     On December 12, 2011, Reckner agreed to a settlement, and a notice of voluntary dismissal was submitted three days later. Reckner's lawyer, Benjamin Goodwin, declined comment, citing a confidentiality agreement.

       The Tribune-Review, Greensburg, reported that a total of $45,000 was to be paid to Reckner, Goodwin and the state Department of Public Welfare. Marie Milie Jones, an attorney representing the county, indicated in a note to commissioners that the county's insurer “is moving forward to issue payment under the terms agreed,” even though "the settlement is between Reckner and the two prison guards as individuals."

See: Reckner v. County of Fayette, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 2:11-cv-00745-MPK (Dec. 12, 2011)

Additional source: Tribune-Review

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Related legal case

Reckner v. County of Fayette, et al.