New Castle News

June 12, 2013

Inmate files federal suit for alleged beating

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A Lawrence County jail inmate is accusing corrections officers of abusing and mistreating him after his arrest.

An attorney for Scott J. Lauderbaugh Jr., 29, of Mercer filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court against five corrections officers, alleging they violated Lauderbaugh’s civil rights by beating up on him “maliciously and sadistically” upon his admittance to the jail Feb. 5.

Lauderbaugh is represented by John M. Mizner of the Mizner Law Firm in Erie.

Named in the lawsuit are officers Victor Rascon, Ryan Struthers, Matthew West, Scott McEwen and Matthew Carney.

Lauderbaugh’s complaint says he suffered a cut behind his left ear that required 10 stitches at Jameson Hospital. He also said he experienced pain in his shoulder and ribs and hospital personnel noted he was intravenously given three doses of Dilaudid, a potent opiate pain medication.

Lauderbaugh also suffered bruises and abrasions to his face, forehead, back and shoulders, and his left ear was swollen and purple, the suit alleges.

Lauderbaugh claims four of the officers ganged up on him and kicked him and stomped on him in the strip search room. He alleges one officer threw dirty socks at him. He claims West, the fifth officer, watched the incident while trying to handcuff him but did not intervene, and the attack continued until a captain appeared in the doorway and ordered them to stop.

He contends that McEwen and Struthers then dragged him off the floor and strapped him tightly into a restraint chair.

Mizner says in the lawsuit that the officers “intentionally injured (him) without just cause or reason, and with excessive cruelty.”

Lauderbaugh is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys fees and other relief.

David Gettings, prison board president and county controller, said Tuesday he is aware of the suit but does not want to comment because it is in litigation.

He said the county has not yet received a copy of the complaint, but once it does, the matter will be turned over to the county’s legal counsel.

The five corrections officers are still employed at the jail, pending the outcome of the suit, Gettings said.

Regarding medical costs to the county as a result of the incident, Gettings noted some or all of the costs may have been covered by the jail’s medical provider, Prime Care Medical.

“We have not received a bill,” he said, adding, “we may not have had any cost over and above what we pay.”

Lauderbaugh was one of two men arrested for allegedly breaking into the home of a retired police chief in New Wilmington.

New Wilmington police filed charges against him and his co-conspirator, Daniel James Tukalo, 20, of Sharon.

Lauderbaugh, who was on probation for another case when he was charged, is lodged in the State Correctional Institution at Mercer.

He is to be returned to Lawrence County for a preliminary hearing for charges of burglary and related offenses at 11 a.m. July 23.