Man's suit over prison injury headed for trial

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BENNINGTON — A suit filed by a local man injured in a table saw accident while he was serving prison time in 2013 is scheduled for a pretrial conference in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division on March 1.

Eric Lambert was serving a sentence on burglary charges in an out-of-state facility in Kentucky in November 2013 when he sustained a severely lacerated hand while operating a power saw, according to the complaint, which said his injuries are "continuing and are permanent."

Lambert had been sentenced in January 2013 to a 3- to 15-year term after pleading guilty to six counts of burglary, four counts of selling stolen property, two counts of grand larceny, two charges of violating his curfew, and one count each of petit larceny; unlawful trespass, providing false information to police, possession of marijuana, prescription fraud, and possession of burglary tools.

At the time of the injury, he was serving time at a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Beatyville, Ken. The suit was filed in April 2015.

Lambert, 29, who currently is paroled under supervision of the Department of Corrections office in Bennington, is represented by Thomas Costello, of the Brattleboro firm Costello, Valente & Gentry.

The privately owned prison firm, Corrections Corporation of America, which owned the facility, is represented in the matter by Jennifer G. Mihalich, of Lynn, Lynn, Blackman & Manitsky, of Burlington. Neither Costello nor Mihalich could be reached for comment.

The suit alleges that Corrections Corporation of America undertook the responsibility of providing Lambert with a safe environment in which to live and work and failed to live up to that responsibility. The amount of damages sought was not specified in the complaint.

In its response to the suit, the company denied the allegations.

According to the national firm's website, "CCA houses nearly 70,000 inmates in more than 70 facilities, the majority of which are company-owned, with a total bed capacity of more than 80,000. CCA currently partners with all three federal corrections agencies (the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement), many states and local municipalities."

Vermont's contract with the company to house some of its inmates ended in 2015, when the state entered into a contract with GEO Group to house inmates at its North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich. There were 265 male Vermont inmates at that privately owned facility in late December, according to a VTDigger.org report.

Jim Therrien writes for the Bennington Banner and VTDigger.org. @BB_therrien on Twitter.


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