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Man gets $50k settlement for hand injuries at tribal jail

by Associated Press
| June 10, 2021 11:55 AM

BILLINGS (AP) — A northeastern Montana man has received a $50,000 settlement from the federal government in a lawsuit alleging staff at the Fort Peck tribal jail failed to protect him from being injured by another inmate and did not seek medical treatment for the severe hand injuries he suffered during the 2018 assault.

Tyler Headdress, now 37, filed the lawsuit in April 2020 and it entered mediation in February, said Tim Bechtold of Missoula, Headdress' attorney.

"He'll never be 100% because they waited too long, and they couldn't fix him properly," his father Henry Headdress told the Billings Gazette. "He sat there without help for six days, and that is unbelievable."

Tyler Headdress was jailed in mid-December 2018 on a warrant with a $100 bond, court records said. Three days later, another inmate assaulted him. While guards stopped the fight, they did not seek medical care for Headdress, the complaint states.

He did not receive professional medical treatment until he bonded out of jail six days later.

Workers at an Indian Health Service clinic in Poplar put his hands in splints and took X-rays before referring him to Billings Clinic for surgery, Harry Headdress said. He said his son has pins in both hands and is unable to make a fist with his left hand.

"For someone who was incarcerated, this was not just a simple case of negligence. It was a conscious disregard for medical need," Bechtold said.