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May 2, 2009 Press Releases

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A Federal Court jury has ordered two Donovan Correction Facility Guards to pay $1 million to Gretchan Young, a San Diego County resident whose 40-year-old son died after being victimized by the defendants.

According to trial counsel Thomas D. Luneau of Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP, the verdict was announced on April 30 and case was tried in the United States District Court, Southern District of California.

“The jury ruled in favor of my client, Gretchan Young, in the case against two prison guards employed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego,” Luneau said. “Her son, Johnny Young, died December 30, 2004 after being critically choked by the prison guards.”  According to Luneau, Young — a schizophrenic — suffered a severe  psychotic episode and were forcibly detained by guards. As a result of a carotid chokehold, he died immediately following the incident. Luneau represented the plaintiff along with Robert Hamparyan and John Gomez of The Gomez Firm.

“In addition to finding them negligent, the jury determined that the defendants violated the inmate’s Eighth Amendment Right against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Ideally, said Luneau, the verdict will help raise awareness about the dangers of carotid chokeholds. “My colleagues and I hope that this facility, and others like it, will carefully educate prison employees about the lethal implications of carotid chokeholds.”