Tuesday, December 4, 2001
Thrown Clothing Brings County Inmate $50,000 Settlement
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A Los Angeles County panel yesterday awarded $50,000 to a man who claimed he suffered great physical and emotional pain from a sheriff’s deputy allegedly throwing a clothing roll at his groin while he stood naked in line for a shower at Men’s Central Jail.
The case was set for trial in February, but the Claims Board, which has the authority to settle smaller lawsuits filed against the county, approved a settlement for the plaintiff, Robert Kevin Moore. Moore claims he still feels pain in his scrotum and that the injury has caused him severe emotional distress and affected his sexual performance.
County lawyers recommended the settlement since the medical expert said he could not contradict Moore’s subjective pains and since another inmate was prepared to support Moore’s version of the incident.
“Even if it was an accident, the deputy remembers throwing the roll and he does remember saying ‘are you okay’ to the inmate,” Principal Deputy County Counsel Johanna M. Fontenot said.
While a deputy admits to having thrown the clothes at Moore, he denies both intending to injure Moore and another inmate’s testimony that he threw the roll at Moore’s groin as hard as he could, according to a county counsel report.
After being arrested on Jan. 25, 2000 by Los Angeles police for petty theft, Moore was taken to the Inmate Reception Area at Men’s Central Jail for pre-trial detention, where the alleged assault occurred, according to the lawsuit.
During the booking process, Moore was ordered to exchange his personal clothes for jail clothes and stood naked in line for a shower, when a sheriff’s deputy, approximately 15 feet from him, threw the clothing roll at him, the lawsuit alleged. The suit said the roll, which weighs about four pounds, hit Moore’s groin with such force that he passed out and collapsed to the ground.
In a complaint registered against the county, Moore’s attorney said the practice of hitting naked prisoners with clothing rolls has occurred many times in the past and that the sheriff and management personnel at the Sheriff’s Department know about the practice but have done nothing to stop it.
Neither the deputies listed as defendants in the lawsuit nor a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department offered comment on the settlement.
The plaintiff and his attorneys could also not be reached for comment.
The Claims Board also settled two other lawsuits against the county, awarding $85,000 in total.
Bruce Kang, who claimed his property in Lynwood suffered extensive water damage when a sheriff’s deputy’s car swerved away from a bicyclist and struck a fire hydrant, received $50,000.
Algert Companies, which claimed its property was damaged by the construction of a bridge at Del Amo Bouelvard and Alameda Street, received $35,000.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company