Family of man attacked in AZ prison files suit

Posted at 9:49 PM, Dec 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-03 23:49:42-05

The family of a man who died after being attacked inside an Arizona prison in January has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the state, a private prison in Kingman and others.

The suit, filed Thursday in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleges that "the actions and inactions of the prison and medical staff at Arizona State Prison in Kingman constitute deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of and the wanton infliction of pain upon Neil Early."

Early had been serving a five-year sentence for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. He died in a hospital days after being sexually assaulted and beaten in a minimum security unit at the privately run correctional facility near Kingman.

In May, Early's parents and young son filed a claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- seeking $7.5 million in damages from the state.

The suit filed Thursday by a Phoenix law firm representing Early's estate seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and "the additional goal of effecting lasting change in the private prison system."

Early lay unconscious in his bunk Jan. 16, bleeding with a fractured skull when prison medical staffers were called, according to the claim and suit.

They both state that Early's injuries weren't properly assessed and emergency responders weren't summoned for nearly two hours. When he arrived at Kingman Regional Medical Center, doctors had him airlifted to a trauma hospital in Las Vegas where he died Jan. 19.

The claim and suit also allege that the state failed to protect Early from a prolonged beating and sexual assault or to care for him properly afterward.

Arizona Department of Corrections officials didn't immediately reply to a call Thursday night seeking comment on the suit.

But DOC spokesman Andrew Wilder previously said the department can't comment because of the pending claim.

In addition to the state, the claim also names prison operator Management Training Corporation and a private prison health provider.