updated 9/21/2006 7:35:16 PM ET 2006-09-21T23:35:16

Jurors ordered a private prison operator and its warden to pay $47.5 million to the family of a man beaten to death by fellow inmates four days before finishing his drug sentence.

“The evidence was disturbing. It showed a failure to properly search, inadequate staffing and improper response,” said Ron Rodriguez, an attorney for Gregorio De La Rosa’s family.

De La Rosa was serving a six-month sentence in 2001 when two inmates struck him with padlocks stuffed into socks in the prison yard. His family claimed in a lawsuit that the death was avoidable. Inmates had used padlocks as weapons before, so it was foreseeable that they would again, the suit claimed.

It was unclear if The Geo Group Inc., a spinoff of the Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections Corp. that runs the facility, planned to appeal Friday’s verdict.

The inmates accused in DeLa Rosa’s death, Daniel Sanchez and Pedro de Jesus Equia, were charged with murder and pleaded guilty to lesser charges. They received 20-year sentences.

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