KINGMAN, Ariz. — The family of inmate Neil Early who was fatally injured while incarcerated at Arizona State Prison has filed a notice of claim alleging negligence in the death.
The initiative requests payment of $7.5 million while asserting that litigation could produce a jury verdict and award of more than $20 million. Phoenix law firm Goldman & Zwillinger is representing the family.
Early, 23, died at University Medical Center in Las Vegas on Jan. 19, three days after he was injured while housed in the Cerbat Unit of the prison in Kingman operated by the Utah-based Management Training Corporation through a contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Autopsy results from the Clark County coroner’s office have not yet been released.
Early’s father, Keith, has said a stream of information coming from other prison inmates and their families indicated his son was beaten to death for his failure to make good on a prison debt.
“Neil became another heartbreaking statistic in the groundswell of inmate violence when he was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted,” the March 12 claim alleged. It asserted that Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan is partly responsible for failing to take necessary precautions after warning in 2009 that “assaults of inmates against inmates are going to increase in the lower-and the medium-custody units.”
Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack said he has reviewed a preliminary report prepared by corrections department investigators but is reserving a determination until the probe is completed.
“ADC is unable to discuss pending claims or litigation,” said Corrections spokesman Bill Lamoreaux.
Issa Arnita, director of corporate communications for Management Training Corporation, was not immediately available for comment.
Early was serving a five-year sentence for organized retail theft and drug paraphernalia convictions.