Archive

Court says W.Va. jail agency not liable in lawsuit | TribLIVE.com
News

Court says W.Va. jail agency not liable in lawsuit

The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed the state Regional Jail Authority from a lawsuit that alleged a male correctional officer repeatedly raped a female inmate.

The court says the authority is entitled to immunity because the woman, identified only as “A.B.,” failed to provide evidence that the officer’s alleged actions occurred within the scope of his employment.

In her lawsuit, the woman alleged that the officer raped her 17 times while she was an inmate in Southern Regional Jail in 2009. She was transferred to Lakin Correction Center in April 2010 to serve the remainder of her sentence.

Her lawsuit, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, named the authority and the officer, identified only as “D.H.,” as defendants. The lawsuit claimed that the authority was negligent in training, supervision and retention of the officer.

The court said the woman failed to identify any regulation pertaining to training, supervision or retention that the authority had violated. She did not name specific individuals responsible for hiring and supervising the officer.

“Respondent has failed to adduce any evidence bringing these alleged acts within the ambit of his employment beyond merely suggesting that his job gave him the opportunity to commit them,” Justice Margaret Workman wrote.

The court issued its 4-1 opinion on Thursday, with Chief Justice Robin Davis dissenting, The Charleston Gazette reported.

“The State cannot be granted absolute immunity merely because no regulation was violated when its employee raped an inmate seventeen times,” Davis wrote in her dissent.

“Just what will it take to protect women from such assaults? Simply put, the Regional Jail was grossly negligent in not having regulations in place that would have protected the plaintiff from being alone with any male correctional officer on seventeen separate occasions.”

The decision reversed a Kanawha County Circuit Court ruling that the authority could be named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The authority argued that it was not liable for the officer’s actions.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.