ELYRIA — Lorain County has paid out $20,000 to settle a malicious prosecution lawsuit filed by a Lorain County Juvenile Detention Home worker who was fired in 2009 after a teenage inmate was injured in an altercation that required the teen to receive 17 stitches in his chin.
James Catalano, who was acquitted of a felonious assault charge in the case, has long since returned to work for the county, but had filed the lawsuit in 2011. Under the terms of the settlement, obtained by The Chronicle-Telegram through a public records request, Catalano will receive $3,749.77 from the $20,000 settlement payment. The remaining $16,250.23 will go to pay his lawyers and cover legal expenses.
The settlement contains a confidentiality clause, which bars both sides from discussing the deal, reached last month. The settlement also notes that despite the payment, the county and other parties deny any wrongdoing.
Catalano was one of several detention home workers involved in breaking up a July 24, 2009, fight between inmates at the facility.
As staff was breaking up the melee, the inmates not involved in the fight were ordered to face the wall, but the boy refused to comply and kept watching the fight.
Catalano walked over to the teen and grabbed hold of him so he could be removed from the common area. Catalano insisted that the teen, who, like Catalano, is white, struggled with him and used a racial slur that the guard feared could cause problems with nearby black inmates.
The teen, who had been incarcerated for threatening a man with a submachine gun loaded with the wrong ammunition, denied using racially-charged language. He received a settlement from the county in federal court.
A surveillance video of the confrontation appeared to show Catalano slamming the teen into a table, before handing him over to another detention home work, who led the boy out of the common area.
Catalano’s union attorney argued that the boy was injured when he ran into the table while pulling away from Catalano. An arbitrator sided with Catalano, ordering that he be reinstated to his job.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.