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$50,000 Settlement for Denial of Medical Care at Tribal Jail in Montana

The United States paid $50,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging federal agents at Montana’s Fort Peck Tribal Jail failed to provide medical care for a detainee who was injured during an assault at the jail.

Tyler Headdress is a member of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. He was arrested on December 12, 2018, and was unable to post a $100 bond, so he remained in jail. While Headdress was lying on the floor in a jail pod with a blanket over his head, detainee Silas Red Dog began kicking Headdress in the head and body.

Headdress put his hands around his head and face to protect himself, resulting in several broken bones in his hands. A fight soon ensued between Headdress and Red Dog. Guards broke it up and Headdress was placed in segregation. He requested and was denied medical care over the next four days for the swelling in his hands.

Headdress’s father attempted on December 18, 2018, to bond Headdress out of jail, but jail personnel did not allow him to do so. The next day, Headdress was told he would be taken to a hospital but that did not occur until December 21. X-rays at the hospital revealed several broken bones in Headdress’s hands. He had surgery on December 31, but surgeons were unable to repair all the damage.

Represented by attorney Timothy M. Bechtold, Headdress sued the United States on April 20, 2020, alleging a violation of the Eighth Amendment and negligence. The $50,000 settlement was reached March 30, 2021. See: Headdress v. United States, USDC, D. Montana, Case No. 4:20-cv-00036. 

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