Pubdate: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Copyright: 2003 Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas
Author: Max B. Baker, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Cited:  Correctional Services Corporation


A Montague County judge says the owner of a former Mansfield boot camp
must pay a $38 million jury award to the family of a teen-ager who
died while in custody.

Visiting state District Judge Roger Towery denied motions by
Correctional Services Corp., of Sarasota, Fla., to reduce or set aside
the jury's multimillion-dollar award, said lawyer Bill Lane, who
represented the teen-ager's family.

"I'm not surprised," Lane said. "It was a good, long trial and a
righteous trial and there was no reason to reduce it."

After an eight-week trial in August, a Tarrant County jury awarded the
parents of Bryan Alexander $5.1 million in punitive damages and $35
million in actual damages for their son's death and suffering and
their mental anguish.

In September, Towery -- who was appointed to the case because the
county's criminal judges were named as potential parties in the
lawsuit -- set the actual damages at $37.4 million, including
interest, and reduced the punitive damages to $750,000.

As a result of the latest ruling, CSC must post a $25 million bond and
has until Dec. 16 to file its notice of appeal.

"We expect it to go through the normal appeal process," said Jim
Slattery, chief executive officer of CSC.

Alexander's parents, Rickey Alexander and Judy Schumpert, sued CSC and
the camp's nurse, Knyvett Reyes, saying they failed to provide
Alexander with adequate and timely medical care.

Alexander, 18, was serving a six-month sentence for a drunken driving
arrest. While at the camp, he had complained of feeling weak and
coughing up blood days before he was taken to John Peter Smith
Hospital in Fort Worth.

Alexander was immediately placed in intensive care but died two days
later on Jan 9, 2001. Tests later indicated that he died of a rare
penicillin-resistant form of pneumonia.

The boot camp and residential drug-treatment programs at the Mansfield
facility were closed six months after Alexander's death.

Reyes testified during the trial that, based on her evaluation of his
symptoms, she treated Alexander for a cold, flu and strep throat.
Witnesses testified that Reyes thought the inmate was faking his illness.

In a related federal court action, CSC's insurance carrier, Northland
Insurance Co., is seeking a declaration that its policies do not cover
the $38 million judgment, Lane said.

Lane, along with lawyers Jeff Kobs and Mark Haney, represented the
Alexander family.

CSC has argued that the insurance policies should cover the verdict
and that Northland acted improperly in failing to settle the claims
before the jury's verdict, the lawyers said.

CSC operates 19 juvenile and 12 adult correctional facilities in 15
states, including halfway houses in Fort Worth and Houston. Texas pays
the company about $7 million a year to run the two facilities.

The company's net worth is about $50 million, according to testimony
in the Alexander case. 
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