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Teen paralyzed after fight inside detention center sues Franklin County

The lawsuit by Damarion Allen and his mother Mary Washington was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio — A 15-year-old boy and his mother are suing multiple employees at a Franklin County juvenile detention center, claiming that negligence from the staff members played a factor in the teen being left permanently paralyzed.

The lawsuit by Damarion Allen and his mother Mary Washington was filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Thursday. The complaint alleges that five staff members of the Franklin County Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch and 10 other people played a role in the teen being paralyzed.

The family said in the lawsuit that Damarion has been held in the juvenile detention center since April, though it does not explain why he was incarcerated.

The lawsuit says Damarion was involved in two altercations with another juvenile inside the facility in April and May.

On April 30, the lawsuit says the other juvenile, who has not been identified, attacked Damarion. After the fight, the juvenile allegedly threatened Damarion, claiming he would attack him again if they saw each other again. The family wrote in the complaint that the threat was made in front of staff members but they didn't immediately act. 

On May 7, Damarion and the juvenile were taking a shower at the same time. The juvenile finished his shower and went into the common space with Damarion entering the same area a couple of minutes later.

The two confronted each other and began to fight. The family wrote in the complaint that a staff member was in the room when the fight began but did not attempt to intervene.

During the fight, the lawsuit says Damarion and the juvenile became intertwined and they both hit the ground. Court documents went on to say that Damarion slammed onto the concrete floor and his body went limp.  The juvenile got up from the ground and kicked the 15-year-old multiple times in the head.

The staff member who was inside the room intervened and attempted to move Damarion. Another employee came into the room to assist while trying to record the incident with a handheld camera.

While the workers were dragging Damarion back to his room, the lawsuit says one of them lost their grip and dropped the teen onto the stairs facedown.

The staff members attempted to lift Damarion again, but he made remarks about his neck and told the staff to “Put me on my back…put me on my back!”

The lawsuit says one of the employees responded, “No. Get him up no matter what it takes. We need to use force.”

The lawsuit claimed that Damarion continued begging to be placed on his back. Sumney responded, “We are not putting you on your back, Damarion.” Damarion responded, pleading “I can’t breathe. My neck!”

The employees brought Damarion to his room and left him face down, according to the complaint.

One of the employees acknowledged Damarion’s paralysis and asked, “You say you can’t move your legs?” Damarion again begged for her to support his neck.

The employee then turned the teen over to his back on the floor, placing his neck on top of her shoe.

The lawsuit claims "reckless, willful, and wanton acts" after Damarion's pleas to be placed on his back were allegedly ignored by guards.

"Their actions are just wildly inappropriate. They're reckless. They fly in the face of all of the training that the staff members have of internal policies, and I think um without those reckless actions, Damarion would be in a really different state today," said Kaela King, the family's attorney.

The lawsuit says when admitted to the hospital, Damarion has undergone multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation therapy but still was left permanently paralyzed.

Credit: Family of Damarion Allen

“Their heedless actions exacerbated Damarion’s initial injury and caused severe and permanent harm to Damarion that will impact him for the rest of his life,” King said.

The family's attorneys said Allen and his mother want two things: change, so this doesn't happen to another child under the care of the detention center and financial support.

"I mean, they are facing some very real challenges right now. Damarion's mom had to quit her job so she can provide him full-time care. They have a lot of expenses that they weren't anticipating and that aren't covered by insurance, and this is a serious life-long injury that's going to require hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs and treatments over time," King said. 

10TV has reached out to the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office for comment. A spokesperson said they are unable to comment since the matter is currently pending in court. 

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