Mount Olive officer sues state over beating

By Cara Bailey | Feb 12, 2007

CHARLESTON - An officer at Mount Olive Correctional Center has filed a lawsuit against the state and some state entities after being injured by an inmate.

Steven Smith of Fayette County filed the suit Jan. 26 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the State of West Virginia, the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, West Virginia Division of Corrections; Mount Olive Correctional Center and Warden Thomas McBride.

Smith filed the suit after he was attacked by an inmate and other officers could not reach him because a door would not unlock. He claims McBride new the door wouldn't unlock.

On July 15, 2006, Smith was working a 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift and was assaulted "by an irate, angry, mentally ill inmate," the suit says. Smith's call monitor did not work, and he had to "hit the control panel button that put the prison on lock down."

Smith says he was forced to fight for some period of time before additional officers arrived with a key to unlock the door and help. However, the key would not open the door. The fight continued, and Smith was bitten, battered and brutally assaulted with a fire extinguisher by the inmate.

The suit says Smith received injuries to his right arm, neck, ribs and the possibility that he may have contracted Hepatitis C.

Smith claims he was subjected to dangerous and unsafe conditions due to the non-opening lock and, as a result, suffered grievous injury to his body.

The suit says various employees previously had complained about the lock and that the warden knew about the problem.

Smith seeks compensatory damages, court costs and further relief.

Smith is represented by attorney Charles M. Love IV, and the case has been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-190

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