The Richmond Register

Local News

November 7, 2010

Allegations dismissed in lawsuit against jailer

Devere, five employees still facing three counts

LEXINGTON — Four of the seven allegations levied against Madison County Jailer Ron Devere and five jail employees recently were dismissed in federal court in Lexington.

However, all six men still face three of the allegations.

The lawsuit was filed June 13 by Brandon Dobbins, a former inmate at the jail who claimed in the suit that jail employees Brett Arnett, Shane Johnson, Cole Becknell, Jordan Lipps and Tyler O’Brien punched him in the face and called him racial slurs and kicked him on his right side.

Dobbins also claimed that he suffered a fracture to the bones of his right eye, a hemorrhage to the tissue of his eye as well as a black eye from the alleged attack.

He had been in a fight in a cell prior to the incident, according to a lawsuit. Dobbins was taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center for treatment.

Through the lawsuit, Dobbins sought punitive damages of $250,000 and compensatory damages of $500,000, as well as a jury trial.

Summonses were issued to the five employees and Devere on Sept. 28.

They were delivered between Oct. 7 and Oct. 11, according to court documents.

In a motion filed in federal court Oct. 28, the men’s attorneys, Lexington-based lawyer D. Barry Stilz and Madison County Attorney Marc Robbins, who is acting as co-counsel because the men are county employees, sought to dismiss several counts of the lawsuit.

They asked that Count I, where Dobbins claimed that his Fourth, Fifth and Eighth amendment constitutional rights had been violated, be dismissed. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, the fifth having property taken away without compensation and from self-incrimination, while the eighth amendment protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. The answer also sought the dismissal of a count of assault and battery and two counts of negligence.

Stilz and Robbins said in the motion to dismiss that the alleged altercation took place June 14, 2009, that the complaint was filed on June 13, 2010 and that summonses were not issued for three months.

“(Dobbins’) state law claims for assault and battery and negligence are barred by the statute of limitations because the plaintiff (Dobbins) failed to file and have summonses issued within one year from the alleged incident,” according to the motion.

Because the statute of limitations had expired, the allegations were no longer valid, the attorneys said. The motion also claimed that Devere has sovereign immunity and therefore could not be sued.

The lawsuit claimed that Devere tolerated a system of operations at the jail that allowed the alleged abuse to occur.

An order handed down by the federal court on Oct. 28 granted the defense’s motion and dismissed the counts of violation of constitutional rights, assault and battery and negligence.

Devere and the jail employees named face one allegation of conspiracy to violate civil rights because they acted together to, “create an environment of intimidation and coercion, including the use of physical, mental and emotional abuse,” according to the lawsuit.

The men also face one count of intentional infliction of emotional distress and count of racial discrimination.

The order did not state the name of the judge who ruled on the motion to dismiss, neither did it state a reason why the allegations were dismissed.

Court records list the presiding judge as Karen K. Caldwell.

Emily Burton may be reached at or at 624-6694. Follow Emily on Twitter at


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