Inmate assault case set for trial

A civil case is heading to trial that charges the Moffat County Sheriff's Office failed to protect an inmate who was assaulted by another inmate while both were in custody at the jail.

Plaintiffs Christopher Hahs and his wife, Ishia Lang, are suing the Sheriff's Office and Steven Pogline. Hahs suffered $225,000 in damages of lost income and emotional distress, according to the suit.

Pogline broke Hahs' jaw while both were inmates at the jail, May, 10, 2004. Jail cameras filmed the assault.

A three-day, six-person jury trial is scheduled for May 1.

Hahs, who is housed in a detention facility in El Paso County, said the assault caused him to lose 14 teeth and undergo two surgeries in which he had to have a titanium plate inserted into the left side of his jaw.

Hahs was in jail in Moffat County on charges of harassment, criminal mischief and first-degree criminal trespass.

Moffat County Jail picked up a tab for about $20,000 in dental bills at the time.

Chief District Judge Michael O'Hara told Pogline by phone during Wednesday's setting hearing that he couldn't appear in person as a defendant in the case. Pogline is serving an eight-year prison sentence, until 2012, for assaulting Hahs and for possession of 0.11 grams of methamphetamine.

Pogline said we would consider hiring attorneys to represent him in the case.

Hahs' attorney, Sandra Gard--ner, filed the case in May.

Moffat County attorneys from Cross & Sands, P.C. in Denver have filed motions in the case to dismiss the Moffat County Sheriff's Office as a defendant in the case. Under the law, the Sheriffs Office is "an extension of the sheriff himself, not a legal entity," the motion states. Another motion from county attorneys states the county shouldn't be held liable because it did not control any alleged acts toward Hahs. Those motions haven't yet been debated in court.

Pogline also filed a statement with the court, denying financial responsibility to allegations in the case.

"What these allegations do not contain is that I, the defendant, in said case was protecting my daughter as plaintiff Hahs had made comments about paying my wife and daughter a visit upon his release," the statement read.

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