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ST. LOUIS • Guards in the St. Louis jail known as the City Workhouse forced inmates to engage in “gladiator-style combat,” bet on the fights and used inmates to punish other inmates, a federal civil suit filed today claims.
The suit, filed on behalf of seven inmates who were attackers, victims or both, says that at least one attack was caught on camera.
Some inmates named in the suit were both victim and attacker, the suit claims. Lawyers for those inmates say guards sometimes used promises of special privileges, extra food and snacks to enlist an attacker. Other times, they say, an inmate was himself threatened with attack unless he agreed to fight.
The class-action suit claims guards took away inmates’ food and privileges and attacked them if they refused to fight. The “Workhouse Gladiators” say they were also denied medical care for the serious injuries resulting from the fights, which included a broken jaw. They are seeking injunctive relief along with $100 million in punitive damages, and their attorneys are also requesting to get the inmates transferred out of the jail immediately for their safety.
The lawsuit was filed after security cameras caught officers Dexter Brinson and Elvis Howard forcing two of the plaintiffs to fight. Brinson and Howard were arrested in June.