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Canadian man loses suit over treatment at Valley Street jail

MANCHESTER — A Canadian man who could only attend a trial via Skype lost a lawsuit he brought against Hillsborough County and three of its corrections officers over his treatment at the Valley Street jail.

A Hillsborough County jury deliberated seven hours and 25 minutes before reaching a verdict in the civil suit brought by Thomas Thompson, who claimed he was beaten and humiliated when sitting in the jail in 2006 while awaiting trial on sex-crime charges.

After pleading guilty and serving his prison sentence for felonious sexual assault, Thompson was deported to Canada. His deportation prevented his re-entry into the United States.

In a civil suit, the plaintiff has a lesser burden of proof than in a criminal case, having only to prove to the jury that his claim is more probable than not.

Using a special verdict form, the jury found the defendants did not batter or assault or inflict emotional distress on Thompson, and Hillsborough County did not negligently fail to provide humane conditions of confinement.

The verdict capped a five-day trial that featured inmates testifying about screams emanating from Thompson's cell on May 28, 2006.

Uniformed corrections officers, however, attributed the incident to a mere takedown after Thompson supposedly threw a T-shirt at a guard when a strip search was about to take place.

"They had no axe to grind with him; he had an axe to grind with the system," said John Curran, the Nashua lawyer who represented the three corrections officers being sued — Lt. Vincent Williams, Sgt. Todd Gordon and Nicholas Granville, who is now a Derry police officer.

Thompson's lawyer, Michael Sheehan, said the beatings were a sick way of having fun.

"Sometimes guys get together, they're locked in the jail day after day, things get a little ugly," he said.

Thompson and two others brought suit against the jail over their treatment in 2006 and 2007. A judge eventually separated them for trial.

In May, a jury ruled in favor of the jail over Juan Marquez.

A trial is expected later this summer involving claims brought by Christopher Robinson.


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