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Ohio Prisoner Recovers $2,025 for Leg Injury Caused by Guard’s Pepper Ball

by Derek Gilna

Ohio state prisoner Kimani Ware won a $2,025 judgment against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) on July 16, 2018. Following a trial, Magistrate Gary Peterson found the DRC was responsible for the injury and pain Ware suffering when he was struck in the left calf by a pepper ball fired by a guard at the Trumbull Correctional Institution.

In his complaint, Ware alleged the guard had “negligently discharged a pepper ball from a pepper gun.” The court granted his motion for summary judgment, ruling that the “defendant owed plaintiff a duty and breached that duty by accidentally discharging a pepper ball from a TAC-700, striking plaintiff in the leg. The court also finds that plaintiff suffered some injury; however, the nature and extent of the injury remains in dispute.”

The magistrate then reviewed evidence related to the amount of damages. DRC medical personnel argued that they provided treatment consisting essentially of ibuprofen for a period of two weeks, but Ware countered that he had trouble sleeping and suffered from a “throbbing” pain in his leg that prevented him from going to his food service job at the prison.

According to Magistrate Peterson, “In order to sustain an action for negligence, a plaintiff must show the existence of a duty owing from the defendant to the plaintiff or injured party, a breach of that duty, and that the breach was the proximate cause of resulting damages.”

Ware had sought $100,000, but as noted by the magistrate, he “did not present any expert testimony establishing the cause of any alleged long-term soft-tissue injury or pain that he may be experiencing. In short, plaintiff failed to prove that the subjective long-term injuries of which he complains were proximately caused by being struck with a pepper ball.”

In conclusion, the court recognized “that plaintiff was struck in the left calf by a pepper ball and that he suffered bruising, tenderness, swelling, and pain. Such injuries were temporary in nature and resolved over the course of the next several weeks. Plaintiff failed to establish the proximate cause of any long-term injuries that he claims to be experiencing. Therefore, the magistrate finds that plaintiff is entitled to recover $2,000 in damages, plus the $25 filing fee, for a total award of $2,025.” See: Ware v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2018-Ohio-3152 (Ohio Ct. of Claims 2018). 

 

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Ware v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction


 

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