Last updated: July 17. 2013 1:34PM - 409 Views

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Rachel Dove-Baldwin

Staff Writer

LOGAN — A civil case filed in Logan County against the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority, The State of WV, the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and Ezra Lambert, a former inmate of the Southwestern Regional Jail by an employee who was injured while on the job has resulted in a judgment in the amount of $827,787.85, plus interest.

Betty Jean Hale, a Mingo County resident who was represented in this case by local Attorney’s Greg “Hootie” Smith and Matt Chandler of the Smith Law Office and Charleston based Attorney Chris Heavens, was employed in the kitchen at the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden as a supervisor for a contracting company Aramack (responsible for meal preparation), and was injured on October 6, 2006.

According to court documents, Hale suffered permanent injuries when the jail’s 250 pound mixer fell off of a wheeled cart and struck her foot, while she and inmate Ezra Lambert were cleaning the appliance. The accident resulted in the amputation of two of Hale’s toes after gangrene infection developed in them, and pins had to be surgically implanted in another. The injury permanently affected Hale’s gait and balance.

The plaintiff alleged that as a property owner and the owner of the equipment involved in the accident, the Regional Jail Authority failed to provide Hale with a reasonably safe work pursuant to WV law. The jury found inmate Lambert not responsible in this matter, but unanimously found the WV Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority 100 percent at fault and returned a verdict in favor of Hale. The plaintiff will also receive prejudgment interest on the verdict from the date of injury in the amount of $221, 271.82, which places the total recovery at over 1 million dollars.

The Regional Jail Authority was represented in this case by Mark Browning, of the Charleston law firm of Shuman, McCuskey and Slicer. The two day trial concluded with the jurors returning their verdict after approximately 3 hours of deliberation.

“It was a long, hard battle,” stated Smith. “I’m extremely happy that justice was served for such a nice person as Betty Hale, no one deserves it more.”

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