Lawyer: Michigan settling prison sex case

July 16, 2009 at 4:35 PM
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LANSING, Mich., July 16 (UPI) -- Michigan is settling a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 500 women who allege they were sexually assaulted by guards in prison, a lawyer says.

Attorney Deborah LaBelle, who is representing the female inmates, said the state of Michigan agreed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court to pay her clients $100 million to settle the lawsuit, The Detroit Free Press said Thursday.

"This is a good deal for the state," LaBelle said of Wednesday's agreement. "If we tried all of these, the cost to the state would have been $1 billion."

The state payments from the settlement will be made during the next five years, the Free Press said.

The Detroit News reported state Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved the settlement.

Marlan said Granholm was advised by the attorney general's office to settle the class-action suit based on previous judicial awards in similar cases.

"There is no admission of guilt or liability in these accusations; the governor and the Attorney General's Office felt it was in the best interest of all parties involved," Marlan said.

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