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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jailers Accused of Scalding Man to Death

MIAMI (CN) - Florida corrections officers caused a mentally disabled man's death by forcing him to stay in scalding hot water for two hours after he smeared feces in his jail cell, the man's estate claims in a federal lawsuit.

Andre Chapman, as personal representative of the Estate of Darren Rainey, sued the Florida Department of Corrections, Corizon LLC, and two corrections officers alleging the officers forced Rainey into the scalding shower as punishment.

At the time of his death Rainey, a 50-year-old mentally disabled man serving a two-year sentence for a minor drug offense, was housed in the mental health unit of the Dade Correctional Institution.

According to the complaint, Rainey had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the corrections facility was aware of the diagnosis.

Prior to his death, mental health staff provided by defendant Corizon LLL noted that Rainey was disheveled, and had poor functioning and distorted thinking. On at least one occasion, Chapman says, the staff gave Rainey an emergency injection of Haldol to manage his illness.

Chapman claims the officers subjected Rainey to "the shower treatment" in June 2012 after he smeared feces all over himself and the cell due to his mental illness. He alleges the officers dragged Rainey from his cell, forced him into the show, and then ignored his calls for help.

Showers in the mental health unit were single-person and could only be locked from the outside. Inmates also could not control the water temperature in the shower.

When they finally did return, Chapman says, they found Rainey lying on the floor of the shower stall with no pulse, no respiration, and with his skin peeling off.

Chapman says after Rainey was removed from the shower, the facility's medical staff noted that he was burned over 90 percent of his body, and that his "skin comes off when touched."

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel were called to the facility, but Rainey was declared dead at 10:07 p.m., about a half hour after being removed from the shower.

Chapman claims Corizon and others at the facility knew about the corrections officers' abuse of mentally ill inmates and did nothing to stop the behavior. The facility and Corizon received several complaints of abuse but would not respond or take action to stop the abuse, Chapman says.

Chapman seeks compensatory and punitive damages on behalf of the estate on claims the officers and the institution as a whole violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as well as Rainey's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Chapman is represented by Peter Sleasman of the Florida Institutional Legal Services Project.

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