Recently, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by an inmate who was allegedly severely beaten in a West Virginia jail. Judge Joseph Godwin dismissed the suit brought by the South Central Regional Jail inmate in 2011, from the Southern District of West Virginia.
In February 2011, the plaintiff was placed in the South Central Regional Jail, where he was beaten severely by neighboring inmates. He was allegedly not given proper treatment for the injuries and was then transferred to the Western Regional Jail. Although authorities allegedly knew that the plaintiff was at high risk of another beating, few protections were put in place for him, and he was beaten a second time. The plaintiff’s injuries were serious enough that he eventually needed to have one of his eyes removed. The plaintiff also argues that the authorities failed to follow through with further treatment that was recommended by his physician. As a result he developed complications that became permanent injuries. He seeks compensatory damages.
He filed a lawsuit initially in state court, but it was later removed to federal district court. Judge Godwin dismissed his complaint, however, stating that while the plaintiff mentions being attacked by inmates, he failed to state how the defendants he named in the lawsuit should have been aware of his injuries or responsible for his medical care. The complaint did not mention the actions taken or not taken by the individuals mentioned.
Since the complaint filed in federal court was already an amended complaint, it is not known whether Judge Godwin left the door open for the plaintiff to amend his complaint yet again and resubmit it, this time with more information about the individual defendants. If the case was dismissed without prejudice, the plaintiff can amend the complaint and refile, and if the judge finds that he did enough to plead a claim, the case could move forward. However, if the case was dismissed with prejudice, then in all likelihood, the plaintiff would not be able to file an amended complaint and his case would likely be stalled for good.
The plaintiff’s predicament shows the importance of filing a good complaint when you file a lawsuit. According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint requires little more than a “short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” However, the short and plain statement still requires knowledge of the law, elements of the claims, and enough specific knowledge of the facts that you can state them in detail. If you manage to state enough facts to meet the elements of a claim, your complaint is likely to survive a motion to dismiss filed by the other party, and your case can proceed. An experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney would know how to file a proper complaint, which is why you should contact one if you plan to pursue a lawsuit.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.