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York County settles lawsuits for $70K

Greg Gross
  • One lawsuit was settled for $60,000

York County commissioners agreed to settle two civil lawsuits for a combined $70,000 at their weekly meeting Wednesday.


One the lawsuits, which the county settled for $60,000, was filed on behalf of David M. Wright, a former county prison inmate, who claimed his rights were violated when he allegedly had to fight another inmate.

The suit named Mark A. Haynes, a former prison corrections officer, as the defendant. Haynes was part of a group of corrections officers, all of whom have since lost their jobs at the prison, who were accused of orchestrating a "fight club," in which inmates were bribed to fight each other in a South Block supply closet in 2013

Haynes, 28, formerly of Jacobus, was acquitted of criminal charges earlier this year, but guards David Whitcomb Jr., 30, of Hellam Township, and Daniel Graff, 40, of York, were found guilty of official oppression, conspiracy to commit official oppression and harassment.

Whitcomb and Graff received probation and were ordered to pay a fine.

Second suit: In the second lawsuit, commissioners agreed to pay Steven E. Landis $10,000 to settle his lawsuit against York County District Attorney Tom Kearney and the county.

Landis claimed Springettsbury Township police officers used excessive force, breaking five of his ribs, when arresting him in 2012. Following a state police investigation, Kearney determined none of the officers broke the law.

A York County judge later acquitted Landis of a resisting arrest charge.

In 2014, Springettsbury Township settled with Landis for $250,000, which removed the township, its police chief and the officers from the lawsuits.

Glenn Smith, the county solicitor, said the suits were settled as a means of averting costly court hearings that could have been decided against the county.

The settlements are no indication of wrongdoing on the county's part, he said.

Devon Jacob, who represented Landis and Wright, could not be reached for comment.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ggrossyd.