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$1.25 Million Jury Award to Rikers Prisoner Over Jail Beating

In January 2018, Jose Guadalupesettled a lawsuit for a total of $1,250,000 for a “severe beating” he suffered at the hands of jailers in the city’s notorious Rikers Island complex. He would eventually net a bit less than half of that amount after paying attorney’s fees and settling claims filed against him by the four people he was accused of robbing, which was the reason for him being incarcerated at Rikers Island to begin with.

New York state passed the earliest Son of Sam Law (SOSL) after David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, was arrested in 1977 for a spree of random killings. The law was intended to prevent convicted persons from reaping a profit by barring them from selling book or movie rights about their crimes. Critics attacked the law as a violation of the First Amendment and in 1991 the Supreme Court declared the statute unconstitutional in Simon and Schuster v. New York Crime Victims Board, 502 U.S. 105 (1991).

However, New York and other states subsequently passed new versions of the SOSL to get around the Supreme Court decision. New York’s, passed in 2001, bars a convicted person from receiving more than $10,000 from almost any source of income. It also requires that victims of a convicted person’s crimes are notified whenever the convict is set to receive any money above that threshold.

When Guadalupe won the award, the four robbery victims were notified. The New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) filed suit on behalf of the robbery victims, naming the state’s Comptroller as “garnishee in possession” of Guadalupe’s award.

The OVS then obtained an order to hold the award, minus payment of attorney and legal fees in the amount of $526,092.44. The four victims claimed $50,000 each for their trauma.

Guadalupe did not dispute the amount, so in November of 2018 the Court ordered a $200,000 reduction in the remaining award to be paid out in a $50,000.00 check to each of Guadalupe’s robbery victims by the state Comptroller.

On November 30, 2018, the New York Attorney General instructed the Comptroller to release the remaining funds of the damage award to Guadalupe. After payment of attorney and court fees and the robbery victims/claimants, Guadalupe realized a total of $523,907.56. See: Jose Guadalupe v. The City of New York, et al., U.S.D.C., (S.D. NY), Case No. 15-CV-00220. 

 

Related legal case

Jose Guadalupe v. The City of New York, et al.