by Ed Lyon
On July 23, 2021, Magistrate Scott Sheets presiding in the Ohio Court of Claims approved a settlement, under which the state Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) agreed to pay $20,000 to a former state prisoner who claimed he was injured while incarcerated when he slipped and fell on a slick floor.
Wayne Blackman was a 59-year-old prisoner at DCR’s Grafton Correctional Institute (GCI) when he went to the infirmary on September 19, 2019. Approaching a water fountain near a guard’s desk, he slipped on an unseen film of water and fell. It turned out that the floor had just been mopped by another prisoner, who had neglected to erect a “wet floor” warning sign.
The guard helped Blackman from the floor and into an examination room. His knees were x-rayed, and he was temporarily given a pair of crutches – because his injured ankle could not bear his weight – along with a prescription for Motrin for the pain.
When Blackman hit the floor, he felt both knees “pop,” he said; both had previously been surgically replaced. The fall also exacerbated a prior injury to his lower back, leaving him with pain in his right ankle, as well.
After his release from prison in October 2020, Blackman sought treatment from an orthopedist who had treated him before his incarceration. He received physical therapy. But he still had to suffer a “painkilling nerve block injection in his neck in 2021.”
With the aid of attorney Mark Vander Lann of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center in Cincinnati, Blackman filed his claim in the court in May 2021. DRC’s liability was not disputed, but the amount of Blackman’s damages was. According to Vander Laan, Blackman still suffers pain in the parts of his body injured in the fall and his orthopedist has restricted him “from lifting heavy objects above his shoulders.” He hired Cleveland orthopedist D. Phillip Stickney, M.D. to provide expert witness bolstering Blackman’s claim.
The parties then proceeded to reach their settlement agreement, which included fees and costs for Blackman’s attorney. See: Blackman v. Ohio Dep’t of Rehab. and Corr., Oh. Ct. of Claims, Case No. 2020-00555.
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