After almost four years of litigation, Worcester County Superior Court issues a ruling for Rule 26 (b) (2) and (b) (3)Class Decertified
On September 4, 2014, the Worcester County Superior Court decertified a class of present and future inmates of the Worcester County House of Correction forcibly extracted from their cells by Corrections Officers using pepper spray and FN 303 less lethal launchers. The inmates claim that the forcible cell extractions constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated their constitutional rights. The inmates also claim that the FN 303 less lethal launcher was defective and unreasonably dangerous and that its manufacturer and distributor and the outside consultant who trained the Corrections Officers in its use were negligent.
FNH USA, a U.S. corporation related to the legendary Belgium arms manufacturer FN Herstal S.A., manufactured the FN 303, which uses compressed air to propel frangible projectiles at targets. The FN 303 was originally designed by the United States Army and is currently used by many law enforcement agencies like the United States Border Patrol. The Worcester County House of Corrections acquired the FN 303 in order to reduce the number and severity of injuries to Corrections Officers and inmates in forced cell extractions. Prior to the FN 303, forced cell extractions involved a scrum-like physical force inside the inmates cell and led to broken bones and head and back injuries. Since using the FN 303, injuries to Corrections Officers and inmates have dramatically declined.
After almost four years of litigation, the Court decertified the class leaving only individual claims for money damages by five former inmates. In its decision, the Court “generally accept[ed] and adopt[ed] the positions advanced by the defendants in their joint memoranda of law.” The Court held that the Rule 23 (b)(2) claims for injunctive relief were rendered moot by the release of all named plaintiffs from incarceration at the Worcester county House of Corrections. The Court further held that the claims against each defendant required individualized proof and were not susceptible to resolution as a Rule 23 (b)(3) class.