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Pierce County Being Sued by Convicted Felon

By Staff | Aug 14, 2015

Desjarlais (Photo courtesy HACTC)

Larry Desjarlais is no stranger to the North Dakota Court System court system, with 16 documented cases of convictions starting in 2001. From a recorded guilty conviction on August 1, 2001 – for a class B misdemeanor that was in violation of Statute: 39-06-42 of the North Dakota penal code – to his final guilty verdict on July 21, 2015 – where he was found guilty of a class C felony on a charge of escape – he has had his fair amount of run ins with the law.

In the middle of all these encounters, Desjarlais was arrested in Rugby, as outlined in allegations made in court documents filed in The United District Court, District of North Dakota, Northwestern Division on behalf of Desjarlais. As stated in the allegations on Aug. 6, 2013 at approximately 1:00 a.m. Desjarlais was admitted to the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center (HACTC) after the Rugby Police found there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The warrant, issued by Burleigh County (Bismarck), dated November 2012, charged Desjarlais with violating a restraining order prohibiting contact with his girlfriend and his daughter (then age six months), and that he was to be held until he posted a $350 bond.

The next day, Desjarlais was placed in a transport van for a scheduled 2-hour ride to the Burleigh County Detention Center in Bismarck. It was during this fateful ride, when approximately 10 miles past Max, on Highway 83, that he took off his seatbelt, for the second time according to the complaint, fully opened the sliding door and jumped out of transport van – which was traveling at 70 mph. He hit the asphalt roadway and slid 15-20 feet on the road and an additional 50-60 feet into the ditch, where correction officers found him unconscious and bloody.

In speaking with the attorney for the plaintiff, Ben Hogan, he said, “Desjarlais was a tragic case with tragic results.” He continued, “From childhood to adulthood, Desjarlais deserved better.” Hogan shared that he genuinely cares for and likes his client.

In his lawsuit, Hogan, on behalf of Desjarlais, is suing Pierce County, North Dakota, along with sevem additional defendants individually and in their professional capacity. Hogan is alleging civil rights violations, general negligence and medical negligence, saying Desjarlais suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma for about five days and still suffers numerous residual effects. “He has great difficulty in carrying out activities of daily life, and has been recommended for an assisted living situation,” Hogan said in the lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks medical expenses and unspecified punitive damages for Desjarlais.

Desjarlais is currently incarcerated, serving time for a guilty verdict for escape. The escape conviction, according to his attorney, was for not returning to a half-way house that he was obligated to.

Pierce County State’s Attorney Galen Mack said the complaint has been forwarded to the North Dakota Insurance Fund, the county’s insurance carrier. Mack said he has not yet talked with Desjarlais or his lawyer, but shared that all but one of the defendants named in the suit are no longer employed by the county or by HACTC.

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