Jury awards $38 million to YDC abuse victim

May 3—A jury Friday awarded $38 million to David Meehan, a former resident of the Youth Development Center who alleged he was bodily and sexually abused in the course of the Nineteen Nineties.

“The $38 million verdict is the largest verdict in a contested personal injury case in the history of New Hampshire,” mentioned a press release from Meehan’s attorneys, Rus Rilee of Rilee & Associates and David Vicinanzo of Nixon Peabody LLP.

The New Hampshire Department of Justice, nevertheless, mentioned state regulation will restrict the state’s payout to $475,000 for Meehan.

“The jury awarded $38 million in damages but found that Mr. Meehan had proven that only one incident had occurred,” the assertion mentioned. “State law… provides that any claimant who brings a lawsuit against the state may only recover up to $475,000 per incident. Therefore, today’s jury verdict will result in an award of $475,000 for Mr. Meehan.”

Meehan’s lawsuit has sparked greater than 1,000 comparable lawsuits by former residents of the juvenile detention middle. This is the primary of the circumstances to go to trial, Vicinanzo mentioned.

In a telephone interview, Vicinanzo mentioned it was “ridiculous” to contend lots of of situations of abuse would equal one incident.

“Today, the jury basically gave the state a cold hard slap in the face and said ‘do better,'” he mentioned. “Instead of responding ‘We were wrong and we’ll fix it and do much better in the future,’ they immediately started quibbling with the money part instead of taking full responsibility for the child abuse that they allowed to happen for so long.

“What does it say about our authorities officers?”

Such cases often lead to talks between the parties, who ultimately may reach a settlement amount that is less than the initial verdict, he said.

Outside Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, Meehan hugged his victim’s advocate, got into a red pickup truck and lit a cigarette.

“David Meehan is a hero in New Hampshire historical past for having the braveness to inform the reality in regards to the state’s grotesque abuse of him as a baby,” his attorneys said in a statement. “He spoke reality to energy, and the jury despatched a robust message validating his hurt and condemning the state’s wanton, malicious, and oppressive conduct.”

The verdict wasn’t read in open court.

According to Meehan’s attorneys, the jury awarded $18 million in compensatory damages, to compensate Meehan for his pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

The jurors also awarded $20 million in enhanced compensatory damages “as a result of the state engaged in ‘wanton, malicious, and oppressive conduct’ by abusing its energy in allowing the sexual assaults, extreme solitary confinement, and bodily abuse,” the statement said.

The court’s jury verdict form confirmed the dollar figures.

Last month, Meehan testified about how he spent weeks in solitary confinement, and how he was raped and contracted gonorrhea. He had difficulty speaking at times and called the testimony one of the hardest things he has done in his life.

“I simply need to see the glad instances now,” Meehan said. “That is what sucks about this course of is I’m nonetheless trapped in all of it.”

Vicinanzo said Meehan was raped, beaten hundreds of times and held in solitary confinement for long periods of time between 1997 and 1998.

The cost of his treatments and lost employment could amount to upward of $200 million — $1 million for each rape, Vicinanzo said.

Attorneys for the state argued that the 2020 lawsuit was after the three-year statute of limitations had lapsed.

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The Union Leader’s David Lane contributed to this report.

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