For the first time, the Texas Youth Commission is settling a claim brought over the agency’s abuse scandal, says the Dallas Morning News. The commission will pay $30,000 to a former inmate who was brutally beaten by other inmates last year. Erik Rodriguez celebrated, who was released in April, said guards weren’t at their posts when four other inmates beat him.
Juvenile justice advocates say dozens of lawsuits are in the works, and settling the first two could open the door for many more – potentially overwhelming the agency’s budget. “This settlement opens the floodgates for the literally dozens of families that have been devastated by this hideous, outlandish, outrageous conduct of a government agency,” said James Myart, an attorney for Rodriguez, 19. Under Texas law, the state can be sued only under a few circumstances, including death or injury at the hands of a government agency. The amount that can be won is capped at $250,000 per individual, and group awards are limited as well.