California Inmate Beating Death Results In $6M Settlement

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Mar 5, 2020

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The 2005 death of a California inmate who was beaten by at least 14 detention officers has resulted in a $6 million settlement that will go to the inmates young children. Although a trial may have garnered more, the parties decided to settle the matter instead.

Wrongful prison death

This California wrongful deathcase involved 30 year old inmate James Moore who was arrested for allegedly assaulting the mother of one of his two children. According to news reports, Moore was arrested in 2005 and brought to the Kern County California jail. While in custody, Moore was beaten by at least 14 detention officers who allegedly beat, hit, kicked, kneed, punched, choked, taunted, mocked and tormented him – even though he was handcuffed and shackled.

He was taken to a hospital, but died about a week later due to brain trauma. His family filed a lawsuit against the detention center and eventually settled the case for $6 million – most of which will go to his two young sons. While lawyers for Moore said that a jury verdict might have garnered approximately $25 million, the family accepted the settlement because a trial may have taken years to resolve. Several of the detention officers have also been criminally charged with Moore’s death.

Settlements vs. trials: Which is best?

Is it better to settle a lawsuit or go to trial? In most situations, the answer to that will depend upon the facts and circumstances of the case. While settlements resolve the matter more quickly, going to trial – at least with a strong case – may be a better option if a settlement offer is low. It also may be your only option if there is no settlement offer at all. An experienced California personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and determine what options youmight have.

Regardless of which option you choose, most personal injury / wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis – which means that you don’t pay anything, generally not even up-front costs, until they recover damages on your behalf. However, always make sure to discuss fee arrangements prior to hiring an attorney so that there are no surprises when the lawsuit is resolved.

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