Former prison inmate files federal civil rights complaint

By Jon Campisi | Jul 26, 2011

A central Pennsylvania man who alleges he was severely beaten and assaulted by prison guards while he was an inmate in a Philadelphia correctional institution is suing the City of Philadelphia and others in federal court.

Attorneys for Coal Township, Pa. resident William Jackson filed the federal civil rights lawsuit July 22 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Aside from the city, named as additional defendants in the lawsuit are John P. DeLaney, warden of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility at 7901 State Road, where the alleged assault and battery took place; Louis Giorla, commissioner of the Philadelphia prison system; Curran-Fromhold Lt. Holt, whose first name is not given; Corrections Officer David Woodard-Bey; and two prison guards named in the lawsuit only as John and Jane Doe.

According to the filing, Jackson was an inmate at Curran-Fromhold on July 23, 2009, when, during mid afternoon, he was subject to an “unlawful strip search in his cell.”

“During the unlawful strip search, Defendant Woodards-Bey beat, assaulted, battered and injured the plaintiff, although the plaintiff was not defending himself or attempting to injure any of the officers,” the lawsuit claims.

Jackson attempted to escape the alleged assault, all the while still naked, first by running into the prison yard, and then by running into the prison’s day room, but each time the guards caught up with Jackson and continued their assault, which eventually led to the plaintiff having teeth knocked out and receiving lacerations on his lip, according to the lawsuit.

Lt. Holt, who was the supervising officer of the guards involved in the alleged altercation, is equally culpable since the lieutenant did nothing to stop the beating, the lawsuit claims.

“Eventually, the assault, battery and beating ceased, and the plaintiff was taken to the hospital and was treated for his injuries,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit contains counts of assault and battery, harassment and civil rights violations, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The complaint claims that, in addition to his physical injuries, the defendants caused Jackson to suffer “mental, psychological and emotional distress, embarrassment, anxiety and humiliation, which is likely to continue in the future,” and for which Jackson might need to seek psychological or psychiatric treatment.

For each of the various counts listed in the lawsuit, Jackson seeks judgment against the defendants in excess of $150,000, plus any additional compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, declaratory judgments or delay damages.

The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-04643-TON.

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