Defendant prison guards liable for inciting attack on prisoner. $130K.
After a "lifer" inmate files a grievance, the guards encourage other inmates to beat him.
- Case Name: Kevin Darnell Bryant v. Patrick Gallagher, et al.
- Court and Case Number: : USDC E.D. of CA / 1:11-CV-00446
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, May 18, 2017
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, March 17, 2011
- Type of Action: Civil Rights, Highlighted Verdicts
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Barbara A. McAuliffe
- Plaintiffs: Kevin Darnell Bryant, 45.
- Defendants: Patrick GallagherRamon Romero
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $130,000
- Award as to each Defendant:
$55,000 as to Romero; $45,000 as to Gallagher; punitive damages $15,000 each.
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 1/2 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 3 1/2 hours.
- Jury Polls: 8-0
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be moving the court for statutory attorney's fees and costs.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Piccuta Law Group, LLP by Charles "Tony" Piccuta, Monterey.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
California Attorney General's Office by Diana Esquivel, Sacramento.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Young N. Paik, M.D. (Treating orthopedic surgeon)
Vladimir Skorokhod, M.D. (Treating emergency room physician)
Helen Tuhin, R.N. (Treating prison nurse)
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Sally Markman, R.N. (Treating prison nurse.)
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff was serving a life sentence and housed in Kern Valley State Prison in June of 2010. He had a job as a prison barber. The defendants were first shift guards in the area where plaintiff was housed.
On June 7, 2010, plaintiff filed a 602 appeal/prison grievance and gave it to the guards because they wanted to change plaintiff's release time for work. On June 8, 2010, Plaintiff sustained a trimalleolar ankle fracture and subsequently required an open reduction internal fixation surgery to repair it.
The claims advanced at trial were: 1) conspiracy; 2) retaliation in violation of the 1st Amendment; 3) cruel and unusual punishment/deliberate indifference to medical need in violation of the 8th Amendment; and 4) failure to protect, also in violation of the 8th Amendment. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on all claims.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
On June 7, 2010, plaintiff was told by the defendants that they would no longer let him out on time for work and that the next shift guards could do it. The defendants were lazy and did not want to leave their office to let out the barbers on time. The defendants would play cards and sleep in their offices. Plaintiff completed a 602 appeal/prison grievance and gave it to the defendants. Defendants told him that if he wanted to file a 602 appeal, that they would lock down all the prisoners and tell them it was because of him. They also told him that they would have inmates take care of him. The guards conspired with each other and other inmates to have plaintiff assaulted for filing the 602 appeal/prison grievance.
The next day, plaintiff was assaulted by inmates while the defendants were watching. The defendants did not sound the alarm or stop the assault. During the assault plaintiff sustained a trimalleolar ankle fracture (three separate breaks in tibia and fibula) and ruptured ankle ligament. Plaintiff's tibia bone penetrated his skin and he was bleeding.
After the assault, the inmates told plaintiff that they would kill him and his family and that he must report the injury as a slip and fall. The guards appeared alarmed because they, apparently, did not expect the assault to result in such a bad injury. They refused to call plaintiff medical help despite him requesting that they do so several times. Plaintiff's foot was flopping around and was displaced. Plaintiff eventually convinced the guards to let him into his cell so he could get an old ADA walker he had inside. Plaintiff ended up hopping 300 yards on one leg with the assistance of the walker to obtain medical treatment.
Plaintiff received open reduction internal fixation surgery to fix the broken ankle. He still had to report to defendants when he returned to the prison. He had to ask them for garbage bags to cover his casted leg when he showered. They laughed at him and cracked jokes about his injury. Plaintiff made a full recovery. Plaintiff filed the case in pro-per in 2011 and made it to the eve of trial. At trial, plaintiff called the treating prison nurse, treating emergency room physician, and treating orthopedic surgeon. All three testified that they did not believe plaintiff would be able to walk on his injured ankle normally, much less bear weight on it. Inmates testified as to witnessing the assault and being involved in the conspiracy.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That plaintiff slipped and fell. That they did not see plaintiff being assaulted. That they saw plaintiff on the ground by a puddle of water and that he said he had slipped and fallen. That plaintiff asked to go to medical and then walked there with his old ADA walker. That when plaintiff left their view, he was in no apparent distress and walking normally, just slower than usual. That plaintiff never asked for medical help. That there was no conspiracy to harm plaintiff or violate his civil rights.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Right lower leg trimalleolar fracture and ankle ligament rupture.