Death of ill inmate results in $900,000 settlement from the State

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January 25, 2008

The State of Connecticut has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit concerning the death of 47-year old Dennis Gary Kinsman, an inmate at the Garner Correctional Facility in Newtown. The settlement was approved yesterday afternoon by the Newtown Probate Court. The State will pay $900,000 and will waive all liens against Mr. Kinsman’s estate. Mr. Kinsman, a mentally ill man, died on May 19, 2004 on a mental health unit following an altercation with several correctional officers. The Connecticut Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was “traumatic asphyxia during restraint,” and that the death was an accident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Bridgeport, alleged violations of Mr. Kinsman’s Constitutional rights to medical and mental health care, and to be free from the use of excessive physical force. It also alleged that the correctional officers who restrained Mr. Kinsman committed assault and battery and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. The defendants denied all claims. The settlement is not an admission of liability.

Mr. Kinsman’s estate was represented by Antonio Ponvert III, a attorney at Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport. The defendants, represented by the Office of the Attorney General, included the Commissioner of the Department of Correction, Theresa Lantz, and 25 other correctional officials and staff at Garner.