VOLUNTEER LAWYERS’ PROJECT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
4320 BANK OF AMERICA TOWER
100 S.E. SECOND STREET
MIAMI, FLORIDA 33131-2309
TELEPHONE (305) 373-4334
FACSIMILE (305) 358-0910
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Florida inmate beaten by guard wins $50K in suit
Michael Curry, a Florida inmate, was awarded $50,000 by a jury in a civil rights case after being beaten by a guard. Mr. Curry filed his lawsuit pro se in November 2007 before U.S. District Court Judge Ungaro, and represented himself until the eve of trial. A plea for a volunteer attorney to assist at trial was made by the Court’s Volunteer Lawyers’ Project.
The plea was answered by Matthew Mazzarella, a second-year lawyer with the law firm of Clarke Silverglate & Campbell, P.A. Mr. Mazzarella stepped forward less than a month before the scheduled trial date to represent Mr. Curry pro bono and to assist the Court.
Francisco Ramos, a partner at the firm, mentored Mr. Mazzarella through the case. The jury found that Curry in July 2006, while handcuffed with his hands behind his back, was physically assaulted at a Miami correctional institution. As a result, Mr. Curry sustained physical injuries consisting of lacerations to his forehead and scalp area which
required staples, a fractured tooth, contusions to his face, and suffered mental distress and anguish. After a two-day trial, the jury returned a verdict of $15,000 in compensatory damages, $10,000 for emotional distress and mental anguish, and $25,000 for punitive damages. Mr. Curry’s attorneys will soon also file a motion for an award of their attorneys’ fees and expenses.
“This was a wonderful experience on so many levels,” said Mr. Mazzarella. “Not only was justice done for Mr. Curry, but I was able to assist the Court and first-chair a two-day
federal jury trial. It is not every day a young lawyer has this kind of opportunity only two years out of law school. I commend the Project to any young lawyer wanting real trial experience.” “We frequently have cases like this for any lawyer wanting to try a case,” said Bethell Forbes of the Volunteer Lawyers’ Project. “Those interested should request being placed on the VLP email case referral list” The Project was established by the court to match volunteer attorneys with persons who can not afford an attorney and have to file
cases on their own.
Contact: Matthew Mazzarella, Clarke Silverglate & Campbell, 305-377-0700
Bethell Forbes, Volunteer Lawyers’ Project, 305-373-4334