Ex-inmate awarded $65,000

WILMINGTON — A jury on Tuesday awarded $65,000 to a man claiming he was beaten in 2012 while an inmate at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown.

The Superior Court civil judgment for Jake Fox came against defendant Eben Boyce, then a corporal at SCI. The correctional officer allegedly attacked Mr. Fox without cause on Nov. 1, 2012.

The jury ruled in favor of Mr. Fox in three of four allegations presented, including assault, battery and cause of injury. The amount of damage was determined to be worth $50,000 to the plaintiff.

A civil rights violation of excessive force was also determined, along with injurious actions. The subsequent award was for $15,000.

The conduct was found not to be “outrageous and extreme and beyond all possible bounds of decency, constituting … intentional infliction of emotional distress … (through) use of force against the plaintiff.”

According to the plaintiff’s attorney Stephen Hampton, “The jury concluded that Mr. Fox was credible when he testified that he was the victim of an assault while in pretrial lockup at the Sussex County Courthouse.

“Cases against correctional officers can be difficult for plaintiffs, so this is a very good result.”

Lt. Boyce was hired by the Delaware Department of Correction on July 6, 2000. A motion for a new trial is possible by either plaintiff or defendant.

Claims detailed

A complaint filed on Jan. 24, 2014, detailed claims against the officer, beginning with Mr. Fox’s trip to the Sussex County Courthouse for arraignment for a non-violent drug-related charges. The lawsuit claimed that Mr. Fox had no history or reputation of violent crimes or actions.

Mr. Fox alleged that the CO yelled and cursed at him after the inmate only said “excuse me sir” while being told not to speak to anyone in a cell they passed by.

The officer then allegedly “grabbed Mr. Fox by his shirt, lifted him off the ground and slammed him into the concrete floor, then repeatedly slammed him into the floor.”

The inmate reported he was in leg shackles and handcuffs throughout the supposed incident and thus defenseless.

Blows to the head supposedly caused a brain injury and Mr. Fox claimed to have lost consciousness. He allegedly awoke in an interview room with a public defender and was bleeding profusely.

A female CO entered the room and asked the attorney to leave, the action said, removed the restraints, took him to a bathroom and had him change into a clean set of prison-issued clothes.

A DOC lieutenant arrived and allegedly asked, among other things, Mr. Fox “if he was retarded, on drugs.” The inmate’s clean shirt was supposedly covered in blood when he left the bathroom.

Despite medical personnel’s recommendation for hospital transport, Mr. Fox said he was taking to the infirmary were nine stitches closed a head wound. A neck brace was provided and a seven-day infirmary stay resulted, the suit claimed.

Later, Mr. Fox reported, he was found not guilty of three disciplinary counts against him while in the infirmary. Despite the finding, a two-month stay in maximum security followed, according to the claim.

Mr. Fox said he wrote the SCI warden about the alleged attack and maximum housing and received no response. Shortly afterward, Mr. Fox claimed, he was transferred from maximum security.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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