Bluffton beating victim paid $150K to settle with county EMS

astice@islandpacket.comMarch 28, 2012 

The Lanese family received $150,000 in a court settlement with Beaufort County.

Bluffton beating victim Brian Lanese will receive $150,000 to settle his lawsuit that alleged two Beaufort County paramedics mishandled his treatment, according to documents released Wednesday.

The settlement is to be paid by the county's insurance provider, the S.C. Insurance Reserve Fund, according to the agreement.

Brian Lanese and his wife, Tracy, signed the settlement agreement March 14, according to documents released by the county's legal department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

The county and other defendants do not admit liability for any medical problems Lanese has as a result of the 2008 beating in his backyard and are merely avoiding further litigation, the agreement says.

The suit filed by the Laneses in October 2009 alleged that paramedics Jeffrey Knieling and Shayna Orsen botched the ambulance call, which resulted in Lanese being hospitalized for a month with brain injuries. The Laneses initially sought up to $600,000 in damages, according to court records.

The injuries Lanese sustained "are or may be permanent or progressive" and recovery "is uncertain and indefinite," the agreement said.

However, the Laneses cannot seek more damages from Beaufort County, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, paramedics Knielingand Orsen, former EMS director Delmer "Rusty" Hollingsworth Jr., or the S.C. Insurance Reserve Fund for any medical problems as a result of the beating, according to the agreement.

The county and the Laneses have mutually consented to a verbal nondisclosure agreement and will not comment further, said county staff attorney Joshua Gruber.

Attempts Wednesday to reach Lanese attorney Joel Bailey were unsuccessful.

The mediation to reach the settlement that was presented to Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen on Feb. 14 took more than nine hours, according to court filings.

The settlement is the final chapter in the Laneses' case. But another lawsuit brought by two Bluffton teens who said they were falsely accused of the beating by Sheriff's Office investigators is still pending.

Criminal proceedings in the Lanese beating ended in August 2011, when Kuwan Fields was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty for his part in the beating in exchange for his testimony against two other teens, Harry C. Battle Jr. and Theophilus D. Hamilton.

His testimony was deemed unreliable, and Battle and Hamilton were acquitted. Battle and Hamilton are suing the Sheriff's Office for unspecified damages for malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and abuse of process.

The Sheriff's Office filed a motion in December to dismiss the suit.

Related content

  1. Settlement reached in Lanese case, details unknown, Feb. 29, 2012
  2. Beaufort attorney fights contempt charge in Lanese beating suit, Nov. 16, 2011
  3. Two men acquitted in Bluffton beating sue Sheriff's Office, Nov. 15, 2011
  4. Judge hears Lanese motions, sets trial date, Sept. 14, 2011
  5. Suspect in 2008 Bluffton beating sentenced to 6 years, Aug. 16, 2011
  6. EMS allegations fuel debate over open records, June 11, 2011
  7. Lawsuit alleges county concealed paramedics' misconduct, May 21, 2011

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