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Prison riot abuse lawsuit dismissed in federal court

James Morrison
Delaware Public Media

A lawsuit claiming inmates were abused in the months following the 2017 Vaughn prison riot was dismissed last week by a federal judge in Wilmington.


A lawsuit on behalf of 107 inmates alleges that, during the effort to restore control to the James T. Vaughn correctional facility in 2017, inmates were abused, humiliated and deprived of basic rights by corrections officials after the riot took place.


But the lawsuit faced another setback last week when Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark denied the motion to reexamine the complaints, and shut the door to any future amendments.


Stark called the latest iteration of the complaint a “shotgun pleading,” pointing out many of the defendants named in the case were not directly involved in the alleged abuse that took place, like Gov. John Carney.


Stark points to a lack of specificity by arguing the plaintiffs have failed to define which abuses have occured to each inmate, and who took part in the abuse.


DOC defendants have not only denied the abuses took place, but also argue that many of those involved in the lawsuit have never been linked to any abuse, both correctional officers and inmates alike.


The plaintiffs have argued that kind of specificity is difficult because the guards who took part in the abuse concealed their identities by wearing masks and covering their name tags.


While the case is now shut out of federal District Court, the plaintiffs can appeal to federal Appeals Court.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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