Court of Claims: Inmate Who Repeatedly Fell Settles for $9,000
The Ohio Court of Claims approved a $9,000 settlement between the state and an inmate who was injured five times from falling out of a bunk bed or down a flight of stairs.
Christopher D. Bell filed a lawsuit against the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction claiming permanent injuries from a series of falls he suffered while incarcerated at the Richland Correctional Institution and the Toledo Correctional Institution.
Bell asserted he had a bottom bunk and bottom-range restriction from the prison system’s medical department, which prevented him from being housed in cells other than on the ground floor. In May 2014, he was moved to a top bunk at Richland even after he advised the correctional officers he had a restriction to the bottom bunk. He fell out of the top bunk and injured his head, neck, knee, and back, and required medical care.
In July 2014, Bell was moved to Toledo, which housed him on the second floor, and he fell walking down the steps. He fell down the stairs again twice in September injuring himself. The day after his second fall, he was assigned a top bunk and fell out of the top bunk again.
Bell claimed the department was negligent for ignoring the restrictions on his placement, while the department asserted that Bell contributed to his accidents and that the prisons were immune from liability for the actions they took. Bell had sought more than $125,000 in damages and agreed in late February to the $9,000 settlement.
In exchange for the money, Bell agreed to drop all pending claims and not file any future claims involving the incidents. No part of the settlement agreement can be used against the state in any other legal proceeding.
The Court of Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over claims against the state. To access information on other cases, visit the Court of Claims website.
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