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Federal Judge Scraps Lawsuit Filed By Estate of Murdered Irish Mob Boss Whitey Bulger

— January 20, 2022

An attorney for Whitey Bulger’s estate said he plans to appeal the decision immediately.

A federal judge has dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit field by relatives of notorious Irish-American criminal Whitey Bulger, who claimed the late Boston mobster was intentionally placed in harm’s way when corrections officials transferred him to a West Virginia prison in 2018. X`

According to The New York Times, Judge John Preston Bailey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia found that Congress has given the judiciary little power to intervene in prison housing decisions.

“Congress had many opportunities to create a damages remedy for situations where a housing decision leads to injury,” Bailey wrote. “But it did not do so. Instead, it has repeatedly limited judicial authority to review BOP housing decisions and to entertain claims brought by prisoners.”

“The silence of Congress is relevant.”

Judge Bailey also indicated that the courts cannot allow prisoners to sue state corrections officers for damages unless very specific criteria are met.

Black and white picture of a prison from outside the fence; image by Brad.K, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Black and white picture of a prison from outside the fence; image by Brad.K, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

In his ruling, Bailey found that the federal Bureau of Prisons “must provide for the protection, safekeeping, and care of inmates, but this does not guarantee a risk-free environment,” he wrote. “Decisions about how to safeguard prisoners are generally discretionary.”

The New York Times notes that Bulger, who had been serving two life sentences for his role in 11 murders, was transferred to U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia on October 30, 2018.

Less than 12 hours after Bulger arrived at the prison, the mobster was beaten to death by other inmates: surveillance cameras captured images of at least two inmates grabbing Bulger’s wheelchair and rolling him into a corner, where they began hitting him with a padlock placed inside a sock.

While prison officials have identified at least one Mafia-connected inmate as a person of interest in the murder, prosecutors have yet to levy any charges, saying the investigation is “still active and ongoing.”

Henry Brennan, an attorney for the Bulger estate, told The New York Times that he will appeal the decision immediately.

“We have repeatedly been told nothing about the so-called ongoing investigation or the facts and circumstances that led to this death,” Mr. Brennan told the Times. “The Bulger family and the public deserve to know the truth about how and why James Bulger’s death was permitted.”

The Boston Herald notes that Bulger became the most-wanted man in the United States after he fled Boston in 1994; Bulger had been informed of his impending arrest by a corrupt federal law enforcement officer.

Bulger managed to evade arrest until 2011, when a former Miss Iceland winner told the F.B.I. she believed she had seen Bulger at a Santa Monica boardwalk.

After Bulger’s arrest, F.B.I. agents found a small weapons arsenal and nearly $1 million in cash stuffed into the walls of his modest apartment.


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