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Welch beating incident settled for $1 million

The Charleston Gazette

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Welch beating incident settled for $1 million

By Tom Searls

Lawyers for the state’s insurers have agreed to pay the maximum $1 million allowable under the state’s policy to settle the case of a State Police trooper who allegedly beat a McDowell County man.

Williamson lawyer and state Sen. Truman Chafin said the man beaten, Neal Rose of Welch, his girlfriend Chastity Follrod and his niece Christine Ready, along with Rose’s father Marcus, all agreed to drop the lawsuit against the State Police, former Trooper Gary L. Messenger, and State Police Sgt. T.C. Bledsoe and Trooper R.W. Hinzman.

“Our clients decided they wanted to get on with their lives and move on,” Chafin, the Senate majority leader, said Wednesday.

The agreement was reached Tuesday, after Chafin and Welch attorney Ronald Hassan held an all day meeting Saturday with the plaintiffs. Most of the money will go to Neal Rose, 36, who was hospitalized for three days after the beating three broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken finger, head lacerations and other injuries.

“It was a serious breach of trust, mainly by Messenger,” said Chafin.

Lawyers had initially asked for $10 million in damages and $10 million for punitive damages when the civil suit was filed in December. The state carries no excess insurance coverage, Chafin said. “Wtih that in mind, I think [Rose] got the maximum amount he could recover,” he said.

Chafin said Follrod, the 11-year-old Ready and Marcus Rose, who owns the structure where his son resided, will share in lesser amounts of the settlement. “The others were obviously placed in apprehension and fear, but not beaten,” he said.

McDowell Circuit Judge Booker Stephens will hold a hearing later to enter final orders in the settlement, Chafin said.

State Police hailed the agreement Wednesday calling it fair. “I think it’s time to put closure to it,” said Col. Gary Edgell, State Police superintendent. “The criminal trial is still out in front of us in dealing with that as an organization.”

Messenger, 30, of Welch, resigned from the State Police shortly after the Oct. 9 incident. He has since been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly violating Rose’s civil rights and threatening Rose to prevent him…

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