Former inmate seeks $18 million for alleged conspiracy

By Kelly Holleran | Aug 19, 2010

CLARKSBURG – A former inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Morgantown is seeking more than $18 million in a lawsuit he filed against a number of prison employees, alleging he was subjected to more than 200 days of solitary confinement due to a conspiracy between the prison officials.

John J. Bowman Jr. claims he was forced to live in a solitary housing unit known as "The Hole" from July 21, 2008, through Feb. 10, 2009, despite his alleged exemplary conduct.

According to Bowman's complaint filed July 12 in U.S. District Court, defendant Anya Kovslek had a vendetta against Bowman and placed him in the hole without a charge, incident or minor infraction.

"'SHU' detainees are kept in lockdown in a 8 foot by 11 foot cell for 23 hours a day, spending the remaining hour outside their cells in handcuffs and leg irons accompanied by a two-officer escort," Bowman's suit states.

Bowman claims he did nothing to deserve such treatment, but remained in the cell after a number of other prison officials joined in Kovslek's conspiracy.

For example, prison employees falsified documents and medical records, failed to provide Bowman with psychiatric or psychological personal interviews at least once per month as required by law and attempted to cover up their failures to meet the interview requirements, the complaint says.

Bowman claims that during his stay in the hole, officials violated his fifth and eighth amendment rights by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment and depriving him of his right to due process.

"Defendants did not protect against wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain, due to conditions of confinement that were grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime, and provide plaintiff the constitutional due process defined in the Administrative Remedy Program, to allow an inmate to seek formal review of an issue relating to any aspect of his own confinement when defendants conspired to lock plaintiff away in administrative detention for 205 consecutive days for 23 hours per day, most times without running water and heat, without plaintiff receiving, a charge, an incident report or even a minor infraction or prison rules or regulations," the suit states.

In addition to Kovslek, Bowman names prison employees Joel Ziegler, G. Esparza, Robert Trybus, Jeffrey Duranko, Robert Roff, Matthew Geyer, Eric Elza, Dane Zimmerman, Brian Callihan, Veronica Fernandez, Kenny Adams and D. Shaw as defendants.

In his five-count complaint, Bowman is seeking compensatory damages of $13 million for eighth and fifth amendment violations, unspecified punitive damages, tax gross-up of $5.2 million and 40 percent of his punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.
Bowman will be representing himself.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Irene M. Keeley.

U.S. District Court case number: 1:10-cv-106

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