Firm Secures Unprecedented Settlement on Behalf of Deceased Inmate
Patterson Belknap attorneys secured an unprecedented settlement relating to the death of an inmate with mental illness who died on April 13, 2015 at the Sullivan Correctional Facility, a New York State prison: $5 million for his estate, which is nearly three times the largest settlement for an inmate death in New York State history, and an agreement from the New York State Department of Corrections to install comprehensive video and audio recording equipment throughout the prison.
The Firm filed the case in the Southern District of New York in 2016, alleging that our pro bono client, Karl Taylor, was beaten and choked to death by corrections officers in retaliation for striking officers during a fight. Prison officials initially suggested he had died of a heart attack. Over the years that followed, Patterson Belknap lawyers interviewed inmates at prisons all over the state, developed forensic medical evidence, prepared a roster of experts, and took over 30 depositions. The jury trial before SDNY Chief Judge Colleen McMahon began on February 11, 2020, and settled on the morning of closing arguments, on February 25, 2020.
This case was previously the subject of a feature piece in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/11/american-prisons-cant-handle-mentally-ill-inmates/576634/.
The case was also discussed in an article in The Marshall Project: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/02/28/karl-taylor-died-in-a-new-york-prison-now-the-state-has-agreed-to-pay-millions