ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- A lawsuit alleges that St. Louis jailers forced inmates to wage “gladiator-style” fights against each other for the amusement of guards.
The suit was filed Friday in federal court on behalf of seven current and former inmates of the Medium Security Prison on Hall Street, more commonly known as the St. Louis workhouse.
The suit, which seeks an injunction along with punitive damages of $150 million or more, claims the city violated their civil rights.
Prosecutors say two guards, Elvis Howard and Dexter Brinson, escorted one inmate into another inmate’s cell to watch them fight. The two have already been charged with assault.
Attorneys representing the inmates say the staged fights have been going on for years at the city workhouse and guards would gamble on the fights. They said at least six guards were involved, sometimes offering special privileges, extra food and snacks to inmates to encourage the brawls. In other instances, inmates were threatened with attack unless they agreed to fight.
City officials have not yet commented.
The lawsuit also seeks class status to represent all inmates who may have been involved.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.