MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - A new lawsuit claims that the Three Springs juvenile facility is to blame for the death of a construction worker beaten to death in 2017.
The family of Van Johnson filed the suit in Limestone County court Wednesday. Johnson was working at a shopping center just a few hundred yards from the facility when he was attacked and killed. Police say two teens who escaped from the Three Springs facility just minutes before are to blame. Aaron Jones and Jakobe Carter were arrested and charged with the crime.
The Van Johnson estate attorney Derek Simpson said the family is looking for answers and damages.
“Why were they there, how did they get there, and how did they get out. That’s all they’re trying to see," he said.
He said public records and reports point to the facility failing Madison.
“Our investigation has showed Three Springs is not adequately staffed, it’s not secure, and as a result it’s put the whole community in danger,” he said.
The suit claims that Sequel TSI, the owner of Three Springs, has been operating the facility with overwhelmed and poorly trained staff. It reads, in part: “Van Johnson was killed as a result of Defendant Sequel TSI Holdings’ negligent and/or wanton hiring, training, and/or supervision of employees of Defendant Sequel TSI of Alabama.”
The company did not return a request for comment.
The complaint also claims the facility failed to recognize Jones and Carter as threats. The suit claims “Aaron Jones and Jakobe Carter had a history of violence, aggression, lack of empathy, and had been adjudged delinquent.” and that “Sequel knew that Defendants Aaron Jones and Jakobe Carter had violent tendencies, a history of aggression, a lack of empathy, and had been adjudged delinquent.” and that Carter and Jones “would attempt to escape and be likely to injure persons, such as Van Johnson or members of the City of Madison community.”
The attorneys for Jones and Carter both did not respond to WAFF 48′s request for comment.
Simpson said the family would like to see the facility either closed or security significantly strengthened.
He said he will be in attendance on August 14 when the Madison City Council holds a public hearing on the detention center, in light of recent escapes.