State settles inmate's beating lawsuit for $100K

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit by an inmate who said he was clubbed in the head by a convicted killer after prison officials ignored his pleas for a new cell.

Joseph Lyons was found in a pool of blood at the now-closed Jackson prison and spent weeks in a hospital in 2007.

"He had complained of an imminent threat from a cellmate," attorney John Alexander said. "Our allegation is the unit manager took it lightly."

Lyons, 42, was struck with a metal bar, suffering a closed-head injury, memory loss and other permanent health problems, according to his lawsuit in federal court in Detroit.

The lawsuit against two prison employees was dismissed last week after the Corrections Department agreed to settle it for $100,000, based on advice from the Michigan attorney general's office, prisons spokesman Russ Marlan said last Wednesday.

A federal magistrate judge had recommended the case be thrown out, but U.S. Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen overruled him, clearing the path for a trial or settlement.

Lyons said he was forced to share a cell with Vernard "Bone" Meadows, 31, who is in prison for second-degree murder.

"He had a very short fuse. I feared for my life every time I had to get locked down with him," Lyons testified in a deposition.

Lyons said Meadows once threatened to "butcher" him after he passed gas. He said he went to unit manager Kelly Holden-Selby and begged for a new cell. His parents even called the prison.

Lyons said Holden-Selby was upset that he had smoked a cigarette in his cell before visiting her.

"She stood up and she yelled at me to go brush my teeth," Lyons said.

In her deposition, Holden-Selby said she couldn't recall conversations with Lyons about his fear of Meadows.

Lyons was in prison for larceny in Lapeer County. Marlan said $21,000 of the settlement would go to his victims and any court costs or fines still owed.

Meadows was found guilty of prison misconduct for the assault on Lyons, Marlan said.

Published: Mon, Dec 6, 2010