Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

After crash in Baltimore, inmates sue over lack of seat belts in vans

Six inmates who were injured when a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services van was involved in a crash in 2014 filed suit Monday alleging they were not properly secured in the vehicle.

The individuals were “involuntary residents of Baltimore City” in July 2014 when the van, driven by a DPSCS employee, was struck by another vehicle near the intersection of Eager Street and Harford Road, according to the complaint filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs were severely injured, according to the complaint, because the DPSCS employees were unqualified and acted incompetently and unprofessionally in both not securing the passengers in the van with any restraints and involving them in the collision. The van did not have seat belts.

The complaint alleges negligence and gross negligence and seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Safety of detainees in transport became one of the focal points of the cases against six police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in the back of a police transport van last year. Gray was unrestrained despite the presence of seat belts in the van. Baltimore police vehicles are outfitted with seat belts and officers are now required to use them to secure people.

A DPSCS spokesman said Tuesday the department has no comment on the lawsuit but it is policy to secure inmates in vehicles and the department will be looking into the allegations.

The six plaintiffs are separately represented by Baltimore attorneys David C.M. Ledyard of Goodman, Meagher & Enoch LLP and Clayton W. St. Laurent of Kowitz & St. Laurent P.A.; Baltimore solo practitioners Joseph I. Tivvis Jr., Mark A. Epstein and Barry J. Diamond; and Marshall N. Perkins of the Law Offices of Michael S. Greene P.A. in Owings Mills.

The case is Marvin Powell et al. v. State of Maryland et al., 24C16004577.