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New York State Settles Pro Bono Sexual Assault Case

On June 10, 2010, the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York accepted the settlement by New York State in Lewis v. Burroughs, pursuant to which Stephen Lewis will be paid $300,000. The Honorable John Gleeson appointed Cravath to represent Mr. Lewis, then an inmate, in his lawsuit against four New York state prison guards for violation of his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Mr. Lewis alleged that, while he was an inmate at the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, he was subjected to a sexual assault during a pat frisk by a prison guard, while three other guards watched and failed to intervene. Following three days of a trial consisting of three different phases, the jury entered a verdict of liability against all four guards and awarded compensatory and punitive damages to Mr. Lewis. Despite testimony by all four guards that nothing had happened, the jury found Mr. Lewis’s testimony to be credible. The final phase of trial, against the Superintendent of the prison for failure to supervise, was ongoing when New York State decided to settle. In accepting the settlement, the Court noted that the trial had revealed “systemic problems in the management of Arthur Kill facility . . . [that] contribute to an environment that allows the abuse of inmates to go unpunished.”

The Cravath legal team, supervised by partner Richard W. Clary and Darin P. McAtee, consisted of associates Yonatan Even, Alexandra Reeve Givens and Michael A. Sanfilippo, and summer associates Lauren G. Gallo and Alexander V. Maugeri.