U.S. District Court: MENTAL HEALTH SUICIDE DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE.
Estate of Cills v. Kaftan, 105 F.Supp.2d 391 (D.N.J. 2000). The estate of a county jail inmate who committed suicide in his cell sued the county and officials under [sections] 1983. The district court held that lower level jail personnel who removed the inmate from a suicide watch were not liable because they acted on statements of a nursing supervisor and social worker that the inmate was no longer suicidal. But the court denied summary judgment for the remaining defendants finding it was precluded by fact issues as to the adequacy of the policy governing suicide watches, that did not require qualified mental health professionals to clear an inmate from a suicide watch. The inmate, who had been sentenced to sixty days in the jail, had a history of depression and attempted suicide. The jail did not have a written suicide policy but the court found that a verbal policy was in effect at the time of the inmate's death. Under the verbal policy, an inmate on suicide watch was: (1) segregated from the general popul ation; (2) checked by a guard every fifteen minutes; (3) given medical treatment and counseling, (4) dispossessed of clothing and other personal belongings; (5) required to wear a paper gown; and (6) restricted from accessing the commissary, telephone, and from having visitors. (Cumberland County Department of Corrections, New Jersey)