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Saratoga jail assault case filed in federal court

Saratoga jail assault case filed in federal court

Man charges correctons officers should have prevented jail assault
Saratoga jail assault case filed in federal court
Adam Sipe
Photographer: Photo provided

MILTON — Saratoga County faces a lawsuit in federal court stemming from an assault on an inmate at the county jail in 2018.

Adam Sipe charges that he was "brutally assaulted" by another inmate on May 15, 2018, while he was being held at the Saratoga County Jail in Milton. The lawsuit charges negligence by the county and jail staff, and names the county and Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo as defendants.

The lawsuit, which was initially filed in state court but recently transferred to federal court in Albany, seeks $1 million in damages for alleged violations of Sipe's rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, "to be free from the deliberate indifference of government officials in charge of the jail." The suit was filed by Albany attorney Mark Mishler on Sipe's behalf.

The county is fighting the charges, with its defense being handled by the county's liability insurance carrier. "Our conversations with the defense counsel indicate they think the case is fully defensible," said County Attorney Stephen M. Dorsey.

Sipe, 32, then of Ballston Spa, was in pre-trial detention when the alleged assault occurred, after being arrested in February 2018 on charges of making a terroristic threat. The suit alleges that at least one corrections officer witnessed an argument on the evening of May 14 in which Sipe was physically threatened by another inmate, Sean Malek. That led to a physical attack by Malek on Sipe the next morning, in Sipe's cell, the suit claims. The lawsuit alleges Malek attacked Sipe again in a separate incident on the afternoon of May 15, in which he pushed Sipe's face against a wall.

As a result, Sipe suffered broken facial bones that required surgery at Albany Medical Center, according to the lawsuit. The Sheriff's Department arrested Malek on two second-degree assault charges, and he pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault.

The lawsuit alleges that Malek, 35, then of Halfmoon, had a history of arrests and violent behavior that should have been known to jail personnel. Malek is currently in state prison for a parole violation stemming from an earlier robbery conviction and the assault, according to the Department of Corrections and Community Service.

"Plaintiff Sipe suffered serious and permanent physical injuries and significant psychological and emotional distress as a result of the actions and negligence [of corrections officers], the lawsuit states.

Sipe is currently serving a two- to four-year sentence in state prison after being convicted of attempting to make a terroristic threat and first-degree criminal contempt.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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