Deputy escapes $1 M lawsuit
November 30, 2000
The Moffat County Sheriff’s Department was vindicated in a court room last week and dodged a million dollar bullet when a lawsuit filed by Moffat County Jail inmate Scott Overton was dismissed.
Overton filed the lawsuit on Feb. 23,1999 alleging that while in jail, Overton was assaulted by another inmate. He filed the lawsuit against Moffat County Sheriff’s Deputy Lynne Holmes, stating that Holmes didn’t take proper precautions to place him in protective custody after Overton had alerted Holmes of the danger he was in.
Overton was in the Moffat County Jail after being convicted of second-degree burglary, theft, criminal mischief and conspiracy. He was sentenced to eight years and housed at the jail until space opened up in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
According to Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg, the lawsuit never had any credibility.
“Lynne did every thing he possibly could to keep it safe,” Hoberg said.
Hoberg said Overton was having problems getting along with all the inmates in his wing of the jail and there was no possibility of moving inmates to make things more convenient for Overton.
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“He was one of those types of people that couldn’t play well with others,” said Dean Herndon, jail administrator.
Holmes received a note from Overton and locked down Troy Smith, the inmate, Overton was having problems with. Holmes’s left word about the problems with the morning staff before he went home at the end of his shift, Hoberg said.
When Smith was released from lock down, Overton and Smith confronted each other over which channel the television should be on. Overton used a racial slur and Smith hit him once in the face, Herndon said.
In his complaint Overton stated the attack left him with chronic back pain, sever depression and insomnia.
Hoberg said the Sheriff’s Department will do some training because of the incident.
Herndon said there wouldn’t be an opportunity for a similar incident in the new jail at the Moffat County Public Safety Center.
“It will alleviate most of these types of problems because there are three different pods of cells and we will have the ability to lock down trouble makers 23 out of 24 hours.
Matt Meir, an attorney for Lasater and Associates, who represented Moffat County, said the judge waited until the last minute to dismiss the case, but they were confident it wouldn’t hold up in court.
“We were getting geared up to try the case,” Meir said. “It kind of came down to the twelfth hour.”
Overton was ordered to pay court costs and Moffat County’s attorney’s fees associated with the case.