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Trio wrongly imprisoned among those seeking relief via claims law

Each year, a joint House-Senate Subcommittee on Claims decides which claims against the state it should fund.

This year’s proposal calls for nearly $1.16 million in payments in fiscal year 2024, including a combined $866,679 to three people who sought relief under the Imprisonment and Exoneration Remedies Act which provides a compensation process for cases where a person was exonerated of a felony for which they were wrongfully incarcerated.

Approved, as amended, Monday by the House Ways and Means Committee, the bill’s next stop is the House Floor.

The awards are:

  • $810,431.86 to Terrell Buechner who was convicted of an unrelated crime and wrongly required to register as a predatory offender, but, nonetheless, pled guilty three times for failing to register. Improperly on the registration list for more than 14 years, Buechner spent more than eight years in prison;
  • $240,000 to Joe Vento who spent 529 days in prison, but the statute he was charged under was later found to be unconstitutional; and
  • $56,008 to Ronald Fairbanks who, due to “substantial cognitive and memory deficiencies” did not knowingly violate the state’s failure to register statute. 

[MORE: View a summary of each claim, spreadsheet]

Sponsored by Rep. Luke Frederick (DFL-Mankato), HF3288 also contains a group of payments related to personal injury claims against the Department of Corrections:

  • $43,200 to James Vandevender for permanent brain injuries from an assault sustained while performing assigned duties at the Rush City facility;
  • $3,940 to Nicholas Edwards for a partial amputation of his right index finger that was crushed by a grommet machine while performing assigned duties at the Moose Lake facility;
  • $2,968 to reimburse the department for claims under $7,000 and other claims paid by the department between February 2021 and April 2023 for injuries under the community work service or sentence-to-service programs. There were four such claims; and
  • $520.08 to Jeron Falkner for permanent injuries to his left thumb while performing assigned duties at the Stillwater prison.

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