Nick DiCello and Jeremy Tor of Spangenberg Shibley & Liber, LLP helped obtain justice for Seth Fletcher, by securing a $17.5M settlement against the state of Ohio for catastrophic injuries Seth sustained in April 2020.
Seth Fletcher was nearing the end of his term of incarceration at an Ohio prison, when he was attacked and tackled to the ground by a corrections officer. Seth suffered a cervical spinal cord injury during the assault.
Even though he was exhibiting obvious signs of paraplegia, instead of being taken to receive medical care, Seth was locked away in an isolation cell, where the 20-year-old languished, unable to move, for days.
Seth couldn’t move his arms, and eventually couldn’t move his legs either. He begged for water, which was poured over his face. For two days, Seth was left to suffer. Finally, a medical professional with enough authority to get Seth the care he needed managed to have him sent to the hospital.
But it was too late. Too much time had passed. Seth is now permanently quadrapeligic and will require 24-hour care for the remainder of his life.
The outrageous facts and intentions of the officers involved were exemplified by social media posts in which one officer bragged about paralyzing the young man. Multiple staff at the prison were implicated in the claims asserted in the case, either by participating directly, failing to intervene, or helping try to cover it up.
To the extent justice could be obtained for Seth with this settlement, DiCello says, “I do applaud the attorney general’s office and the governor for resolving the case in the manner that they did, and at the time they did.”
From what the firm can tell, $17.5 million is a record-setting settlement. It’s being reported as the highest settlement ever from the state of Ohio in a civil rights case involving a single plaintiff, and Spangenberg Shibley & Liber, LLP is unaware of any higher settlement to date.
Why the unprecedentedly high number?
DiCello cites “the egregious nature of the conduct.” When asked about the sum, DiCello says, “It certainly doesn’t make it okay, but this was an unprecedented case and that money will really help this young man and his family try to give him the best life he can have.”
Spangenberg worked with Geoffrey Fieger and Jim Harrington of the Fieger Law Firm out of Michigan on the case.The Fieger firm is a preeminent civil rights law firm. “It's a privilege to be able to work with great lawyers who, like us, are passionate and willing to do what it takes to obtain the best results for our clients,” DiCello said.
When asked about his biggest takeaway from the case, DiCello says, “There are some really horrific things that can go on in these prisons. I see it, and I know it can be a tough environment in which to work, but for whatever reason there are times where a number of people can acquiesce to, permit, condone, or engage in really outrageous and shocking behavior.”
Our thoughts will stay with Seth Fletcher and his family as they navigate this difficult situation, and we are honored to have helped bring Seth the settlement he deserved.