The Florida Justice Institute, Inc. (FJI) today filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Vidal’s family alleging that Anthony Vidal’s death was caused by negligent guards at Dade Correctional Institution (DCI). Not only did these guards fail to help him once the attack began, guards at Dade CI knowingly put a very violent and severely mentally ill prisoner in same cell as Mr. Vidal where he was choked to death. During this brutal assault, which lasted for several minutes, Anthony repeatedly cried out for help to no avail. Other prisoners who heard the attack and Anthony’s cries for help also screamed for guards to intervene. But for nearly ten minutes, no guards came. This was because, inexplicably, the audio monitors in Anthony’s unit had been turned off by the guards so they could not hear Anthony’s cries for help. By the time Dade CI guards and medical staff entered Anthony’s cell, a full twenty minutes after the attack had begun, he was already dead.
Mr. Vidal’s murder was not an isolated incident.
Dade CI is one of the most violent prisons in Florida. Thirteen prisoners died at Dade CI in 2016, which was nearly twice as many deaths as any other Florida prison, except for prison hospitals that serve the sick and elderly. Then in 2017, twelve prisoners died at Dade CI. And now in 2018, at least three prisoners have already died at Dade CI.
“We all know about the horrific case of Darren Rainey, a mentally ill prisoner who was burned to death in a hot shower at Dade CI,” said attorney Erica Selig of FJI. “But what many people don’t know is that prisoners are still needlessly dying at Dade CI.”
Dade CI’s inability to house and treat mentally ill prisoners and keep them safe was the subject of another lawsuit that settled back in 2015. However, FJI’s lawsuit alleges that Dade CI is still failing to treat and protect mentally ill prisoners, as shown by the fact that Anthony Vidal’s attacker was not being treated for his serious mental illness and was not being housed safely by himself so that he would not be a threat to himself or others. The lawsuit also alleges that Florida’s prisons are deadly because of chronic understaffing and the hiring of inexperienced guards. Understaffing and undertraining has led to preventable deaths like Anthony Vidal’s.
“Mr. Vidal was not sentenced to death. He was just 45 years old and serving a 15-year-sentence for a nonviolent crime,” said attorney Ray Taseff of FJI. “His death was cruel, senseless, and 100% preventable.”
Mr. Vidal’s family is represented by attorneys Randall C. Berg, Jr., Dante Trevisani, Erica Selig, and Ray Taseff from the Florida Justice Institute. The case is Vidal v. Florida Department of Corrections in the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County.