An insurance pool for Maine counties spent nearly $800,000 responding to and settling a lawsuit that accused York County Jail officers of unconstitutionally restraining and using a Taser on a Wells man for almost one minute, resulting in several broken ribs and scars on his chest.

Brian Dunnigan, 63, agreed last week to settle his claims against officers Eric Daigneault and Donovan Cram, the two remaining defendants in his 2019 lawsuit, for $385,000, according to the Maine County Commissioners Association Self-Funded Risk Management Pool. The settlement did not admit any fault or issue any findings.

The risk management pool also paid nearly $415,000 in legal fees and other defense-related expenses, Director of Operations Malcom Ulmer said Wednesday.

The organization is a self-funded pool that insures all of Maine's county governments, who fund the pool by paying regular premiums. The pool is responsible for covering legal costs when counties or their officials are sued.

Ulmer said Thursday that the risk management pool would have paid up to $2 million for a federal case like Dunnigan's. For state cases, the Maine Tort Claims Act limits damages from governmental entities to $400,000.

Attorneys for the officers and the jail – whose officials were named as defendants until a judge dismissed them from the case in March– did not answer messages asking about the costs.

Dunnigan declined to speak about the case or settlement Thursday. His attorney, Tom Hallett, said he "can't comment on any of it."

"My hands are tied," Hallett said.

The terms of the settlement bar Dunnigan and his attorneys from discussing the agreement or their claims. It specifically bars them from discussing the matter with the media.

"If asked, Releasors will only say that the case was resolved by mutual agreement, and provide no further information," the agreement, which was obtained via a Freedom of Access Act request, states.

York County Sheriff William King, who oversees the jail where Daigneault and Cram still work, said that the settlement agreement "expressly denies the claims that were made."

"I want to ensure the public that the York County Jail is professionally managed, and force is used rarely, when necessary, and only as a last resort," King wrote in an email. "I stand by the actions of the York County Corrections Officers who were involved in this unfortunate incident. With that said, like many lawsuits, the settlement can probably be viewed as a business decision to bring the underlying case to a full and complete end."

Daigneault did not respond to a voicemail asking to discuss the allegations and the settlement amount.

The risk pool has paid out varying amounts for similar settlements across Maine.

It paid a former jail inmate $28,500 in 2019 to settle a lawsuit against a former Cumberland County guard whom he had accused of retaliating against him for reporting the guard used racist slurs, according settlement records from 2021.

The risk pool paid $30,000 to Jonathan Afanador in 2021, ending a lawsuit in which he alleged a jail officer assaulted and used pepper spray on him.

All of the agreements required the plaintiffs to drop their claims, and had similar language barring them from discussing the settlements or the case.

Dunnigan was arrested and brought to the York County jail in Alfred in February 2018 on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and criminal mischief. The charges were later dropped.

When Dunnigan sued in October 2019, he alleged that while he was at the jail, Daigneault kneeled on his chest and pressed his Taser to him for almost one minute while Cram and another officer held him down, his head bouncing against the cement floor.

King wrote Thursday that the jail is constantly reviewing all of its policies, including those related to Taser use and surveillance camera footage, which came under fire as Dunnigan's attorneys were preparing for trial.

Dunnigan’s attorneys said in court records that the county failed to preserve key evidence that would have supported their client’s claims – surveillance footage from five of the jail’s cameras, some of which was provided, and some of which had been overwritten and no longer exists.

King said the jail has upgraded its video monitoring system to include new cameras, but those upgrades were part of the county's capital improvement plan for several years and weren't related to Dunnigan's allegations.


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