A federal appeals court has set aside a $1.1 million damages award to survivors of Kenneth Trentadue, who died in controversial circumstances at a federal lockup in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoman reports. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver agreed with a lower court judge that the conduct of federal government employees toward Trentadue’s family after his death was “outrageous.” The appeals court said a trial judge failed to make the necessary legal findings that would entitle the family members to damages from the federal government. The case now will be reopened.
Trentadue, 44, died of massive injuries in 1995 at a lockup for inmates being transferred from one location to another. Federal employees told his family he hanged himself. Family members contend he was murdered by staff or an inmate. The 10th Circuit said damages are available only if the plaintiffs’ emotional distress was “so severe that no reasonable (person) could be expected to endure it.”