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Federal Civil Rights Suit for California Jail Beating Settles for $100,000

by Derek Gilna

In September 2017, Derek Connor, incarcerated at the Placer County jail in Auburn, California, filed a federal lawsuit against the county and numerous deputies and jail employees over an unprovoked beating and other civil rights violations. The complaint, filed in the Eastern District of California, claimed that on “or about September 6, 2015, a correctional officer roused Connor from his bunk, aggressively ‘patted’ him down by grabbing Plaintiff’s penis and testicles very hard and then lingering and feeling Plaintiff’s penis, testicles and surrounding area.”

Other jailers then roughed him up, “stepping on his bare feet with their boots, twisting him like a ‘pretzel.’ After Plaintiff was forced to the ground, he was beaten with a stick (or possibly a deputy’s elbow).”

Connor attempted to file a grievance but never received acknowledgement of his complaint, and no action was taken. In addition to the beating, he said his mail and legal work were illegally seized, his cell was “tossed” several times a month and jail staff spread “false rumors among inmates that [he] was a snitch.”

The lawsuit also alleged “that there has been a group of deputies working at the Auburn Jail that have frequently engaged in unlawful violence against inmates, sometimes individually and sometimes collectively, ... that these deputies have abided by the ‘blue wall of silence’ and neither stopped nor reported each other’s unlawful conduct, [and] Defendant Sheriff Devon Bell,” had knowledge of that situation and the incidents of violence but took no corrective action.

Connor sought damages of $600,000, “including, but not limited to: (a) the serious physical pain and suffering from the injuries to his body; (b) the severe emotional and mental distress caused by the rough handling, demeaning taunts, and being beaten while handcuffed, including feelings of helplessness, anxiety, humiliation, and the loss of a sense of security, dignity, and pride; (c) the cost of medical treatment; and (d) the cost of emotional and psychological therapy.”

A notice of settlement was filed on November 17, 2017 following a Rule 68 offer by the defendants for a payment of $100,000.01 plus “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs,” and Connor’s attorney later submitted a motion for fees. The district court held that plaintiff’s counsel was entitled to $11,430 in fees plus $400 in costs – which the defendants characterized as “pretty good for one week’s work.” The parties later reached an agreement as to damages and attorney fees in the case. See: Connor v. Placer County, California, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:17-cv-01830-TLN-KJN. 


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Related legal case

Connor v. Placer County, California