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Emery Celli Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Rikers Inmate Who Died After Seven Days in Solitary Confinement Without Medical Care

ECBA, together with the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project (“PRP”) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Beverly Ann Griffin, the mother of Bradley Ballard, a 39-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia and diabetes, who died on Rikers Island last year after he was improperly placed in solitary confinement and then inexplicably denied food, water, his medication, and other medical and mental health care for seven days. The City Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Ballard’s death a homicide. The lawsuit names as defendants the City of New York; several current and former high-ranking Department of Correction Officials; Corizon, the private corporation responsible for health care at Rikers Island; and the health care and correction workers responsible for Mr. Ballard’s care during the period of neglect. In an emotional press conference, Ms. Griffin told the City, “You are there to correct the inmate, not to destroy him.” Ms. Griffin is represented by ECBA’s Jonathan S. Abady and Hayley Horowitz, along with PRP’s Jonathan Chasan and Mary Lynne Werlwas.

To read the Complaint, click here. To read the New York Times’ story on this case, click here. The New York Daily News covered Mr. Ballard’s case and the City’s refusal to defend Corizon here.

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City Agrees to $2.75 million Settlement in Death of Rikers Island Inmate, Ronald Spear

The City of New York has agreed to pay $2.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought by John Daniels, the father of Ronald Spear, a 52-year old man who was beaten to death by corrections officers while being held at Rikers Island. Mr. Spear, who suffered from chronic kidney disease, was killed after he requested medical treatment on December 19, 2012. Autopsy records revealed that Mr. Spear suffered blunt force trauma to his body and head. The City Medical Examiner ruled Mr. Spear’s death a homicide. Mr. Daniels is represented by ECBA’s Jonathan S. Abady and Zoe Salzman, along with co-counsel Jonathan Chasan and Mary Lynne Werlwas of the Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project (PRP).

To read more about the case, click here.

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Sanctions Ordered Against City of New York Defendants for Destroying Surveillance Footage of City Jail

Southern District of New York Judge Robert P. Patterson ordered sanctions against several New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) officials, corrections officers, and the City for the destruction of surveillance video depicting a violent attack on ECBA’s client, Dwaine Taylor, while he was in a holding cell at the Bronx Criminal Courthouse. Defendants destroyed all but eight minutes of video on either end of the incident, which started with the attack on Mr. Taylor and ended three hours later with Mr. Taylor still in the pen with his attacker. Plaintiff’s motion for sanctions for the destruction of evidence argued that Defendants had a duty to preserve the video footage at the time they became aware of the assault and their failure to do so warranted sanctions: an adverse inference that the jury can presume Plaintiff’s version of the facts relating to what happened during the three hours is true, preclusion of testimony about what the video footage depicted, and attorneys’ fees. Judge Patterson agreed and ordered all of the requested relief against defendants.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Taylor alleged that the DOC and correction officers at City jails allow members of the Bloods to maintain order among inmates in the jail through violence and threats of violence. Mr. Taylor alleged that Defendants had a duty to protect him, and failed to do so in part by putting him in the pen with his attacker and allowing him to remain there, bleeding and with a fractured jaw. The attack at the Bronx Criminal Courthouse was one of two Mr. Taylor suffered at the hands of other inmates as a result of Defendants’ alleged indifference.

Mr. Taylor is represented by ECBA’s Katherine Rosenfeld, Zoe Salzman, Jill Maxwell, and Jonathan S. Abady, and The Legal Aid Society’s Prisoners’ Rights Project.

To read more about the case, click here.

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Judge Certifies Class Action in Case Alleging Excessive Force in City Jails

Today the lawsuit Nunez v. City of New York (11-cv-5845) was certified as a class action by stipulation and agreement of plaintiffs’ counsel and The City of New York, and so-ordered by Magistrate Judge James Francis in the Southern District of New York. The complaint, filed in May of last year, alleges that corrections officers and personnel employed by the New York City Department of Correction (“DOC”) have a longstanding policy and practice of using excessive and unlawful force against inmates throughout the City’s jails. The lawsuit also claims that DOC personnel are frequently inadequately trained and disciplined and that the use of excessive force is knowingly permitted and encouraged by DOC supervisors. The plaintiff class will include all present and future inmates incarcerated at DOC jails, with the exceptions of the Eric M. Taylor Center and the Elmhurst and Bellevue Prison Wards. Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, Ropes & Gray, and the Legal Aid Society Prisoners’ Rights Project have been appointed as class counsel.

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