Bishopville, South Carolina
February 18, 2008
Agencies: United States Attorney’s Office | South Carolina Law Enforcement Division SLED | Department of Corrections South Carolina
Cause of death: Beating
Last updated: almost 5 years ago
The state has paid $1.2 million to the estate of an inmate with mental retardation who died in 2008 after being kept naked for 11 days in solitary confinement and developing hypothermia.
Records from the state Insurance Reserve Fund also show the state paid an additional $199,000 to its private lawyers in the case, which was cited last year by former state Circuit Judge Michael Baxley in his landmark, 45-page order finding the state Department of Corrections had violated the rights of inmates with severe mental illness.
The estate of Jerome Laudman sued individual officers in the case in federal court and filed suit against the prison system in state court. Both cases were settled last year, records show, with the federal suit being dismissed and the state agreeing to pay $1.2 million in the state case.
“We settled the case for 1.2 million,” Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said. “Corrections continues to make significant changes and improvements for the safety and security of officers and staff, inmates and the community.”
Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, chairman of the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee, said of the settlement that “$1.2 million doesn’t bring this man back to life. ... (But) hopefully the family can have closure on that.”
Scott Evans, a lawyer for the Laudman estate, said the family of Laudman feels the settlement was a fair one. He said the maximum amount that can be paid in a state medical negligence claim in South Carolina is $1.2 million. He said $600,000 is the limit for a wrongful death claim and $300,000 for other types of claims.
Laudman’s final days and evidence of an attempted cover-up by correctional officers were detailed in documents reported by The Greenville News last year.
Baxley wrote in his 2014 order that an investigative report found Laudman had been “physically abused” by a correctional officer during his cell transfer and that a prison investigator later “found evidence of an attempted cover-up by correctional officers” who cleaned the cell before investigators could photograph it.
February 2009 SLED refers case to US Attorney
February 2014 Family shocked at state legal bills
January 2015 $1.2 million payout to estate