New Orleans man suing DOC for false imprisonment after spending 41 days in jail

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BATON ROUGE – On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Louisiana Department of Corrections falsely imprisoned a New Orleans man for 41 days. 

On August 3, 2017, Brian McNeal was sentenced to ninety-days at the Steve Hoyle Program in the Bossier Parish Correctional Center. The DOC issued a release letter that said that Mr. McNeal was to be released ninety days later, on November 1, 2017. The DOC sent the letter to the Steve Hoyle Program.

But the DOC sent Mr. McNeal to a different prison – the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center near Baton Rouge. Mr. McNeal’s release letter was in one place, but he was in another. As a result, his legal release date came and went without him being set free. 

Over the following weeks, Mr. McNeal made repeated requests for help inside the prison, and his girlfriend worked on the outside to try to get him released. Finally, after 41 days, Mr. McNeal was released.

The DOC paid no retribution to compensate for the 41 days they held Mr. McNeal past his release date. So Mr. McNeal filed a civil rights lawsuit.

On February 18, federal Judge deGravelles issued an order in Mr. McNeal’s favor, ruling that the DOC had falsely imprisoned Mr. McNeal. The judge noted that “[t]he parties agree that Mr. McNeal was held for 41 days past his legal release date,” and that the DOC was only arguing procedural reasons in asking that Mr. McNeal’s lawsuit be dismissed. 

Judge deGravelles decided that none of the DOC’s procedural excuses were valid, and that Mr. McNeal can move forward to trial with the DOC’s liability for false imprisonment already established.

Mr. McNeal’s attorney, William Most, commented “Mr. McNeal is one of the thousands of Louisiana people held each year past their release date. Hopefully this decision will show the Louisiana Department of Corrections that what they are doing is illegal and has consequences.” 

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