Inmate Sues NM County, Alleging Beatings in Jail

A lawsuit against Bernalillo County, N.M., officials, a jail contractor and several inmates alleges a man was beaten by other inmates two different times, the second time so severely he suffered permanent injuries.

A conservator for inmate Avery T. Hadley filed the lawsuit in federal court against current and former county officials, contractor Correctional Medical Services Inc. and several inmates, The Albuquerque Journal reported in a copyright story.

The lawsuit accuses county officials of civil rights violations, including failing to provide a safe environment for prisoners and to train and supervise corrections officers. It also alleges conspiracy.

According to the lawsuit, Hadley, 49, spent weeks in the infirmary after inmates beat him in November 2008.

It alleges inmates beat him again in March 2009 so severely he was in a coma for weeks, required life support and now uses a wheelchair.

The lawsuit alleges that in both cases, jail guards “popped the doors” and released inmates to allow the assaults.

County officials and the contractor filed separate responses this month denying any wrongdoing.

The lawsuit, filed for Hadley’s conservator, Sandra Foster, claims Hadley’s family has been deprived of a meaningful relationship and that Hadley was deprived of a relationship with his father before his death and with his own twin brother.

The contractor said its employees “acted in good faith and in a reasonable manner given the information and circumstances existing at the time.” County defendants and their employees said their actions were objectively reasonable and they’re entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuit.

The county contends Hadley’s injuries were caused by another party and the county isn’t liable. It also said Hadley failed to file a tort claim notice and to file within a two-year statute of limitations.

The county launched a review by outside experts, but no final report has been issued. The county attorney contends much of what that contract covers is subject to attorney-client privilege.

Two inmates were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy in the 2009 attack. One pleaded guilty to conspiracy and being a repeat offender; the case against the other is pending while his competency is evaluated.

A correctional officer pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor accusing her of standing by while inmates beat Hadley in 2009.

One correctional officer and three inmates were charged in the 2008 beating. The inmates have pleaded to various charges. The case against the guard is pending.