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SC Lawyer’s Weekly: Family of man killed in prison settles case for $275k

January 16th, 2020 Posted by News No Comment yet

By Renee Sexton
1/15/2020

The family of an inmate who was killed by two other inmates in a South Carolina prison has received $275,000 in a mediated wrongful death settlement, the family’s attorneys report.

Mark Peper and Marvin Pendarvis of the Peper Law Firm in Charleston report that the family of Michael Lorenzo Jones sued the South Carolina Department of Corrections in McCormick County Circuit Court for wrongful death and negligent hiring, training, and supervision.

Pendarvis

Pendarvis

The family’s attorneys said that Jones was serving a sentence at McCormick Correctional Institution in 2016 when he was attacked by the other two inmates and stabbed with a homemade shank. Jones received routine medical care and returned to his cell, but died about half an hour after he was stabbed.

At the time of the attack, a single correctional officer was covering the unit where the incident occurred and all interior doors–including all cell doors and those leading into and out of each wing–were unlocked and open, which allowed inmates to move around at will and unsupervised, Peper and Pendarvis said.

Information obtained through discovery revealed overcrowding at the prison, a lack of adequate supervision due to a shortage of staff correctional officers, failure to properly train, monitor and supervise correctional officers, failure to have proper policies and protocols in place to provide for inmate safety, and failure to provide the proper level of security in the wing after being notified of prior violent incidents there, the attorneys said.

The attorneys also argued that SCDC employees had failed to properly locate and dispose of contraband, properly classify and monitor inmates, and provide immediate medical care. Pendarvis said Jones had filed complaints with SCDC saying that he had been threatened and feared for his life and asking for help.

Peper

Peper

One of the inmates was charged with murder. The other was charged with accessory to murder.

“What happened to Mr. Jones was the result of a number of missteps that led to him ultimately being killed,” Pendarvis said. “If you have a facility that has a reputation, if you’ve got a unit within that facility that has a reputation of being a unit where certain types of violence occur, and you do nothing to address the ability for inmates to get their hands on chains or weapons that could carry out harm, you’re negligent.”

Jimmy King of Anderson mediated the settlement, which was approved on Nov. 12.

Pendarvis said the demand was limited by the cap on damages imposed by the South Carolina Tort Claims Act. He said the family knew at the beginning of the process that the settlement amount would be limited, but they hope the suit will force SCDC to address its staffing issues at McCormick.

“It’s clear that it’s understaffed. It’s clear that there are things that continue to take place within the department that need to be addressed,”Pendarvis said. “Just because someone’s been sentenced to time doesn’t mean that it’s a death sentence. It shouldn’t have to be that way, especially when it could be prevented and you have officers that are tasked with ensuring that inmates are able to serve their time without fear of death, and they need to be held accountable.”

Steven Pruitt with McDonald Patrick in Greenwood represented the SCDC. Neither he nor the department responded to a request for comment.

Follow Renee Sexton on Twitter @BobcatRenee

SETTLEMENT REPORT — WRONGFUL DEATH

Amount: $275,000

Injuries alleged: Death

Case name: Estate of Michael Lorenzo Jones v. South Carolina Department of Corrections

Court: McCormick County Circuit Court

Case No.: 2018-CP-35-055

Mediator: Jimmy King of Anderson

Insurance carrier: South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund

Attorneys for plaintiff: Mark Peper and Marvin Pendarvis of the Peper Law Firm in Charleston

Attorney for defendant: Steven Pruitt of McDonald Patrick in Greenwood

Link (subscription required): https://sclawyersweekly.com/news/2020/01/15/family-of-man-killed-in-prison-settles-case-for-275k/

Kim v. Pi Kappa Phi, et al.

August 3rd, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

Read the full document here
Kim v. Pi Kappa Phi, et al.

STATEMENT FROM MARK A. PEPER, ATTORNEY FOR GOOSE CREEK SHOOTING VICTIMS

May 23rd, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 22, 2017

Media Contact: Tyler Jones – 252-675-7606

tyler@speakstrategic.com

STATEMENT FROM MARK A. PEPER, ATTORNEY FOR GOOSE CREEK SHOOTING VICTIMS

Charleston, SC – Mark A. Peper, attorney for the victims in the Goose Creek shooting that occurred earlier tonight, released the following statement on behalf of the shooting victims:

“After complaining of noisy kids in the street, a neighbor opened fire late this afternoon. They believe the intended target was their 8 year old grandson and 1 year old granddaughter who was in the arms of her mother as they walked in front of their residence on Gator Drive. The female homeowner, 57, was hit once in the chest.  The male homeowner, 48, was shot in the upper back and arm as he shielded his family from additional gunfire. Both victims were transported to Trident Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries and are expected to make a full recovery. The family is pleased with the quick response from members of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and emergency personnel, and appreciates the community’s continued prayers and support.”

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Attorneys of Goose Creek High School Student Raise Additional Concerns Regarding School’s Cell Phone Policies

May 17th, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2017
 
Media Contact: Tyler Jones – 252-675-7606
 
tyler@speakstrategic.com
 
 

Attorneys of Goose Creek High School Student Raise Additional Concerns Regarding School’s Cell Phone Policies

 

Charleston, SC – Mark A. Peper and David Aylor, attorneys for a 16 year old Goose Creek High School student who was filmed in a bathroom stall on school property by a fellow student, sent a letter to the attorney for Berkeley County School District outlining the gross negligence demonstrated by faculty and administrators at GCHS in regards to the school’s cell phone recording policies.

The video footage of the incident was posted by a student to the popular social media application, Snapchat.

In the letter, attorney Mark A. Peper asserts that after speaking with various students, parents and faculty members, and despite school policy that expressly prohibits the use of electronic devices to record any student or staff member at school, the practice of unauthorized cell phone recording by students is the custom and culture at Goose Creek High School.

“In speaking with various students, parents and faculty members this week, it cannot be disputed that unauthorized cell phone use by students during the school day is the custom and culture at Goose Creek High School, which can only be attributed to the actual or tacit approval of the entire administration, and specifically, Principal Jimmy Huskey, since deviating from the policies, procedures, and rules requires prior permission from the principal himself.  In speaking with the School Resource Officer assigned to GCHS, I am confident that we can prove the school was on actual notice of students’ habitual use of cell phones to record daily events, and further, that the use of cell phones to record students, teachers and faculty has become so customary that it is considered condoned by the Principal himself.”

Additionally, attorney Peper points to the fact that Goose Creek High School’s own website still lists the cell phone policies of the previous academic school year which prohibit even the possession of cell phones during the school day as proof of the custom and culture regarding cell phone recordings at the school.

In the letter, attorneys Peper and Aylor state their intention to file a lawsuit against the Berkeley County School District if immediate steps are not taken on or before May 24, 2017 to amicably resolve this matter.

The letter from attorney Mark A. Peper to the Berkeley County School District is attached to this press release.

Interview requests for Mark A. Peper, Esq, should be sent to Tyler Jones at tyler@speakstrategic.com. 

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Slager Pleads Guilty in Walter Scott Case

May 2nd, 2017 Posted by News No Comment yet

Click here to read the plea agreement.

 

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