Ohio prisons are under scrutiny after the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) placed seven employees on paid leave following the February 6, 2021 death of 55-year-old inmate Michael McDaniel. McDaniel’s death came after an “altercation” with staff at the Corrections Reception Center in Pickaway County.
The death has been ruled a homicide by the Franklin County Coroner, who determined that McDaniel’s death was caused by “stress induced sudden cardiac death.”
According to the autopsy report, McDaniel suffered blunt force injuries to his head, face, shoulders, wrists, hands, knees, feet, toes, and abdomen. The coroner’s report described index-card-sized bruises on McDaniel’s knees, an 8-inch by 4-inch scrape on the side of his face, a 1-inch cut near his left eye, a busted lip, bleeding on his scalp, and large bruises on his abdomen.
McDaniel was admitted to prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
People entering the prison system are initially housed at the Corrections Reception Center, where prison officials determine their security levels and then send them to other Ohio prisons.
According to the DRC’s public statement, two female guards were injured while trying to remove McDaniel from his cell. He declined a medical evaluation at the prison infirmary and later collapsed and was taken to Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City where he was pronounced dead.
Twelve weeks after McDaniel’s death, prison officials placed three prison employees on paid administrative leave. A fourth employee was off of work “due to injuries sustained during the incident.” Three other employees involved in the incident were suspended in early June.
Unfortunately, McDaniel’s death is yet another instance of inmates being killed by the very prison officials who are supposed to protect them.
Inmate Rights Attorneys Fight Against Jail Deaths
Prison officials have a legal obligation to protect the people under their supervision. While in prison, inmates are almost completely dependent on prison staff for the most basic necessities. They also depend on prison staff to ensure their safety. Yet many prison officials fail to provide appropriate care for inmates and may even cause them harm.
When prison officials violate the law and harm or even kill inmates, they need to be held accountable.
Section 1983 of the United States Code allows a person to seek compensation for injuries or death caused by government officials. But bringing a claim against the government is no easy task, especially because these claims must be filed in federal court, where the rules are different.
To succeed, the victim or their family must prove that prison officials violated an inmate’s Constitutional rights while acting under color of law.
A successful plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. Compensatory damages are intended to make the victim “whole” for the injuries and damages caused.
Punitive damages punish the defendants and deter similar conduct in the future.
A successful plaintiff may also be entitled to have their attorney’s fees paid by the defendants, including expert witness expenses and other costs associated with bringing the case.
Robenalt Law: Fighting Injustice in Ohio Prisons
The Robenalt Law Firm has acted as plaintiff’s counsel in numerous civil rights lawsuits against prisons and other government officials stemming from injuries or death suffered by an inmate.
If you suffered a serious injury while in prison, or if someone you love was killed while in police custody, you may be entitled to compensation. However, there are complex laws that apply to lawsuits against prisons and the government.
The lawyers at Robenalt Law offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case. If we determine that your case has merit, we will investigate by requesting and investigating security footage, prison records, reports, medical reports, and duty logs. But you must act quickly. If you delay, these items may be destroyed under Ohio prisons’ records retention policy.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career at a large firm in Cleveland where he represented corporate defendants and insurance companies. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help victims and their families secure compensation for injuries and wrongful death that occur when people are placed under arrest or are in prison.
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