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Attorney Geiger Wins Case of First Impression for County in Federal Prisoner Transport Lawsuit

This lawsuit addresses the liability of a Pennsylvania County Sheriff’s office for hiring an extradition company whose employees harmed an extradited prisoner.

Police stopped Darren Richardson for rolling through a stop sign in Hernando County, Florida. They took Richardson into custody after discovering there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Pike County, Pennsylvania.

The County Sheriff’s office was tasked with the responsibility of transporting the prisoner to Pike County on the outstanding warrant.

The Pike County Sheriff’s office retained Prisoner Transport Services (PTS) to transport Richardson from Florida to the Pike County Correctional Facility in Lords Valley, PA.

Richardson alleges that during his ride to Pennsylvania, PTS agents abused him.  He claimed that had the County Sheriff’s office completely vetted PTS, it would have discovered that other extradited prisoners had claims against PTS for abusing prisoners in their care. In opposing summary judgment, Richardson presented reports of other inmates who died during PTS transports.

PTS is one of the largest extradition companies in the country and advertises that the company services federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutor’s offices and maintains “a high level of customer satisfaction and loyalty.”  See PTS website.

Pike County presented evidence to the court that it had been using PTS services for at least 16 years without complaint and didn’t know that by hiring PTS, Richardson would be harmed. Richardson argued that if the County had properly vetted PTS, it would never have hired the company.

The federal district court dismissed Pike County from the lawsuit, holding that Richardson “has not introduced evidence showing that anyone in the Sheriff’s office had actual knowledge of alleged abuses by PTS.” Richardson v. Prisoner Transp. Servs. of Am., No. 3:15-CV-01061, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99484, at *15 (M.D. Pa. June 14, 2018)

This appears to be the first civil rights case of its kind nationwide against a government agency sued for hiring an extradition agent who arguably harmed a prisoner in its care.

The case has been widely reported, including by the Scranton Times-Tribune, and by the Human Rights Defense Center.

The case is reported here:

Richardson v. Prisoner Transp. Servs. of Am., No. 3:15-CV-01061, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99484 (M.D. Pa. June 14, 2018).

A copy of the District Court’s decision is available from defense counsel here.

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