Soledad prisoner falsely "validated" as a gang member, segregated. $535K.

Summary

Prisoner misclassified as gang member is placed in more restrictive housing unit.

The Case

  • Case Name: Percelle v Pearson, et al
  • Court and Case Number: Northern District of California / 12-cv-05343-TEH
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, December 21, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, October 12, 2012
  • Type of Action: Civil Rights
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Thelton E Henderson
  • Plaintiffs:
    Steven Dale Percelle, 53.
  • Defendants:
    Steven Pearson, Derek Arredondo, Michael Williams, and Dylan Fletcher
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $335,000 compensatory plus $200,000
  • Net Verdict or Award: $535,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Jointly and severally in the amount of three hundred thirty-five thousand dollars ($335,000.00) against defendants: Officer Steven Pearson, Officer Derek Arredondo, Sergeant Michael Williams and Lieutenant Dylan Fletcher for compensatory damages.

    Punitives: Based on the December 21, 2016 jury verdict in this case, judgment is further entered in favor of plaintiff Steven Dale Percelle and without joint and several liability against defendant Officer Steven Pearson in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) for exemplary damages, additionally against Officer Derek Arredondo in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) for exemplary damages, additionally against Sergeant Michael Williams in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) for exemplary damages, and additionally against Lieutenant Dylan Fletcher in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00) for exemplary damages.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None.
  • Economic Damages:

    Undifferentiated.

  • Punitive Damages:

    $50,000 against each of four defendants

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
  • Jury Polls: 8 - 0
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for fees pending. Motion by defendants for new trial.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Office of William C. Dresser by William C. Dresser, San Jose.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    CA Dept of Justice Office of the Attorney General by Giam Nguyen, San Francisco.

    CA Dept of Justice Office of the Attorney General by Elliott Seals, Oakland.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Martin Williams, Ph.D., psychology, San Jose.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Rich Subia, former Director of CDCR, Sacramento.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    John Jefferson, CDCR Special Agent with expertise in gang validation procedures, Sacramento.

    Charles Crumpacker, librarian, San Francisco.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff Steven Dale Percelle was transferred from the general prison population at CTF-Soledad to the Administrative Segregated Housing unit on January 23, 2012. This was based on a pretextual gang validation commenced by Assistant Institutional Gang Investigators Defendants Officer Steve Pearson, Officer Derek Arredondo, and Sergeant Michael Williams. The supervision of these three defendants was by Institutional Gang Investigator Defendant Lieutenant Dylan Fletcher, who was aware of all of the facts of the unsupportable “investigation” when he signed a gang validation package.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Defendants’ actions commenced immediately following, and were motivated by, Mr. Percelle obtaining a default against the individual defendants' employer, the CDCR. Mr. Percelle had no history of gang involvement. Nevertheless, defendant IGI Lieutenant Fletcher, and defendants assistant IGI Officers Pearson and Arredondo and Sergeant Williams, conducted a pretextual “investigation” and gang “validation.”

    The gang validation package which they prepared, reviewed and/or signed did not contain indicia of gang membership which complied with the requirements of Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations (see Trial Ex. 165), or the CDCR Department Operations Manual (see Trial Ex. 164), or the CDCR Office of Correctional Gang Validation Manuals (see Trial Ex. 112), or the training received by each defendant including pursuant to the settlement agreement in Castillo v Alameida, C-94-2847-MJJ-JCS (see Trial Ex. 160).

    This gang validation package consisting of a total of 11 pages (see Deft Trial Ex. D, pgs D0003 through D0013) did not include the information which defendants knew of which proved that Mr. Percelle was not a member of a prison gang. Once reviewed by the OCS, the gang validation was, like all other gang validations, upheld by the CTF-Soledad Administrative Segregation Unit Institutional Classification Committee. As a result, Mr. Percelle spent the duration of his now extended determinate sentence in administrative segregation. The result of placement in those conditions of confinement under these pretextual circumstances was that Mr. Percelle suffered from, and continues to suffer from psychological injuries.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant's contentions were that their actions were justified by the CDCR need to control prisons; that they did not validate Mr. Percelle as a member of a prison gang, that the CDCR Office of Correctional Safety did.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Agoraphobia, paranoia, claustrophobia, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $78,000

Additional Notes

Defendants indicated a nuisance value settlement in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 at the time of a September 2015 settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas. Plaintiff indicated a settlement demand of $100,000. Plaintiff sought to elicit a further settlement offer, but none was given.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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