- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The widow of a slain Oregon prison inmate has settled a federal lawsuit filed against former state Department of Corrections chief Max Williams and three other prison supervisors.

Court papers submitted at U.S. District Court in Eugene this week by Tiffany Hagen’s attorney and an Oregon Department of Justice lawyer say the parties are preparing the settlement documents. The proposed terms are not included in the paperwork, and lawyers from both sides did not return messages seeking comment.

The deal comes two months after a federal judge dismissed the original lawsuit and Hagen’s attorney, Dennis Steinman, filed an amended complaint.

A state lawsuit in Malheur County remains scheduled for trial in June.

Michael Hagen, 28, died at a Boise, Idaho, hospital in February 2012 after being found unconscious in his cell at the Snake River Correctional Institution in eastern Oregon. His cellmate, Terry Lapich, was charged with aggravated murder.

Hagen repeatedly told prison officials his life was in danger after refusing to do tattoo work for Lapich and other members of a white supremacist gang.

Officials acknowledged the threat and approved a transfer from Snake River. But Hagen remained at Snake River and was sent to a new cell. His new cellmate: Lapich. In less than two hours, Hagen was on the floor in a pool of blood, boot marks visible on his head.

When granting the motion to dismiss in December, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane wrote that while a prison homicide can never be tolerated, Tiffany Hagen failed to establish a “sufficient causal connection” between the supervisors and Hagen’s death.

In asking McShane to dismiss the amended claim, state lawyers said “plaintiff once again fails to identify a single factual allegation that would link the conduct of the defendants to the events leading up to Hagen’s death.”

The state acknowledged in a Malheur County legal filing that it was negligent in moving Hagen into a cell with an inmate who had promised to hurt him. However, it denied claims in the lawsuit that violence is prevalent at Oregon prisons and that its policies, training and discipline structure are inadequate to protect inmates.

Hagen was sent to prison for 17 years in 2010 after robbing a Portland check-cashing store and severely beating a clerk.


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