Ex-wardens where dangerous inmate escaped sue DOC over alleged character defamation

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A former prison warden and his assistant warden at Lieber Correctional Institution are suing the state Department of Corrections on grounds that their characters were defamed after an inmate escaped in July 2017.

Joseph McFadden and James Blackwell, represented by attorney J. Lewis Cromer, were the heads of Lieber when inmate Jimmy Causey escaped last summer.

Causey, according to DOC investigators, was smuggled a cell phone and used tools likely delivered via drone to cut his way through the prison fences. He was eventually captured following a multi-state manhunt that ended in Texas. 

The lawsuit says McFadden and Blackwell were blamed for the escape, with Blackwell allegedly forced into retirement and McFadden allegedly demoted to another institution.

Instead, the lawsuit says, blame for the escape should be on the shoulders of the "general administration of the Department rather than the individual wardens," a statement from the pair's attorney said.

"The treatment of these two excellent employees is totally unacceptable and not only has caused damages to them and their careers but has cost the Department two of its top and most competent leaders at a time when they can ill afford to lose them," Cromer said in a statement. "Our clients look forward to the clearing of their name and the exposition of the events that have caused them harm."

The pair is seeking damages and punitive damages.

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