Keeling v. Schaefer.
Keeling v. Schaefer, 181 F.Supp.2d 1206 (D.Kan. 2001). A prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against corrections officials and a private corporation that employs inmates within a corrections facility. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants on some of the claims. The court held that an employee of the private corporation was not a "state actor" for the purpose of an action alleging Eighth Amendment violations. The court noted that the corporation was not performing a function--correction and rehabilitation of criminals--traditionally performed only by the state. Rather, the corporation was engaged in making a profit through its embroidery business, and the use of inmate labor and its location inside the facility were merely incidental to its business plan.
The court held that corrections officials were not "persons" for the purposes of a [section] 1983 action to the extent that the prisoner was seeking monetary damages from the defendants in their official capacities.
But the court found that fact issues existed, precluding summary judgment, as to whether the employee of the private corporation became a state actor by using prison disciplinary proceedings to obtain a "judgment" against the inmate. The court noted that as private persons, employees of a private corporation operating in a correctional facility were not entitled to a qualified immunity defense in a [section] 1983 action.
The court also found that fact issues as to whether the inmate received procedural due process during a disciplinary hearing precluded summary judgment.
The inmate was working for Impact Design, a private for-profit corporation operating within the confines of the Lansing Correctional Facility (Kansas). Impact employed inmates under the provisions of federal laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Justice through the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP). One of the PIECP requirements compels inmate workers to be paid the prevailing wage in the community for their labor. The inmate's job was to inventory spools of thread used in Impact's embroidery business and provide management with an accurate count of their stock. The inmate alleged that he was attacked by another inmate while he was working. The following day he was charged by prison officials with violating two prison regulations--fighting, and poor work performance. The inmate was subsequently found guilty of the fighting charge and was sentenced to 21 days in disciplinary segregation.
The inmate was charged by prison officials with deliberately miscalculating a thread inventory that resulted in a loss of customer orders. The inmate argued that he was unable to complete the inventory because he was attacked by another inmate. An employee of Impact requested restitution for its losses and the prison disciplinary board ordered the inmate to pay $2,965 in restitution. The inmate's prison account was frozen as a result of the judgment. (Lansing Correctional Facility, Kansas)
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|Publication:||Corrections Caselaw Quarterly|
|Date:||May 1, 2002|
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