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14. Failure to protect.

U.S. Appeals Court PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Cantu v. Jones, 293 F.3d 839 (5th Cir. 2002). A prison inmate who had been slashed with a razor by another inmate, brought a civil rights action to recover on a deliberate indifference theory from prison officials, who allegedly orchestrated the assault. A jury ruled in favor of the inmate and awarded $22,500 in compensatory damages; the prison officials appealed. The appeals court affirmed the district court verdict. The appeals court held that the question of whether officials manifested deliberate indifference to the inmate's safety when they allegedly left a door to another inmate's cell open and allowed him to escape and assault the first inmate, was a matter for the jury. The plaintiff inmate had previously complained about prison guards. The appeals court affirmed that the officials were not entitled to qualified immunity. (Connally Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division)

U.S. Appeals Court OFFICER ON PRISONER ASSAULT SEXUAL ASSAULT

Ford v. County of Oakland, 35 Fed.Appx. 393 (6th Cir. 2002). A female county jail inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against a county for allegedly maintaining a custom or policy of ignoring sexual harassment and assault claims, and creating an atmosphere that facilitated her rape by a police deputy who was supervising her. The district court granted summary judgment as to the [section] 1988 municipal liability claim, and the appeals court affirmed. Although the deputy was not suspended from duty until after the sheriffs office had completed its investigation, the court noted that the county had a policy against sexual harassment, disciplined the deputy after the results of a state police report became available, and proffered evidence of three other cases in which officers were disciplined for sexual harassment and assault at the county jail. (Oakland County Jarl, Michigan)

U.S. District Court OFFICER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Gallardo v. Dicarlo, 203 F.Supp.2d 1160 (C.D.Cal. 2002). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against a prison warden alleging Fifth Amendment and state law claims. The district court found that the prisoner stated an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against the warden and that the warden was not entitled to qualified immunity. The prisoner alleged that the warden encouraged the use of excessive force, and that he sustained physical injuries from officers' use of force on him that required a 31-day hospitalization mid resulted in permanent physical injuries. (California State Prison, Chino)

U.S. Appeals Court SUICIDE

Pardue Ex Rel. Christian V. Ashe, 36 Fed.Appx. 199 (6th Cir. 2002). The next friend and next of kin to an arrestee who committed suicide while being held in a county jail on a domestic assault charge, brought a 1983 action alleging that the county failed to recognize the arrestee's suicidal tendencies. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants and the appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the arrestee did not have a constitutional right to be screened correctly for suicidal tendencies, and that he did not show a strong likelihood that he was going to attempt suicide such that the failure to take precautions amounted to deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The appeals court also held that there was no evidence that the county had a policy or custom of deliberate indifference to pretrial detainees who were in similar situations to the arrestee. The arrestee had been admitted to a county jail and was placed in a temporary holding cell near the intake desk. Sometime during the night the arrestee hanged himself and his body was discovered the following morning. The appeals court held that "this single incident is not sufficient to impose liability on Wilson County because it does not establish a pattern of unconstitutional conduct." (Wilson County Criminal Justice Complex, Tennessee)

U.S. Appeals Court PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Peate v. McCann, 294 F.3d 879 (7th Cir. 2002). A state prisoner brought a civil rights against a corrections officer, alleging Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations in connection with a prison fight. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the prisoner. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment as to whether the officer acted with deliberate indifference toward the safety and health of the inmate. The appeals court also held that the prisoner was not entitled to information contained in a prison investigation file. The prisoner had been attacked twice by a fellow prisoner, and blamed the officer for failing to break up the second fight. (Miami Correctional Facility, Indiana)

U.S. District Court PRISONER SUICIDE

Pelletier v. Magnuson, 201 F.Supp.2d 148 (D.Me. 2002). A personal representative for the estate of an inmate who committed suicide in a state prison filed a [section] 1983 complaint in state courts, alleging Eighth Amendment violations. The district court granted summary judgment for all of the medical defendants, finding that the alleged missing or tampered documents relating to the deceased inmate's medical treatment did not establish that employees of the prison's contracted health care provider were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. The court held that a social worker, medical doctor, and regional supervisor of medical services were not deliberately indifferent. The court found that a licensed psychiatrist was not administratively negligent for allegedly not knowing that the inmate was psychotic and suicidal at all times. The court noted that the decision to scale down the inmate's care was made by a treatment team and was not the result of financial considerations. (Maine State Prison)

U.S. District Court PRISONER SUICIDE

Rapier v. Kankakee County, III., 203 F.Supp.2d 978 (C.D.III. 2002). The wife of a detainee who committed suicide while in jail filed a [section] 1983 suit individually, and as the special administrator of the detainee's estate. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants, finding that the county was not liable for alleged deliberate indifference toward the prevention of suicide by detainees. The court found that the county's policy of placing potentially suicidal detainees in a special needs cell, along with its policy to require checks of these inmates every 15 minutes, was an effective way to prevent suicides. The court also found that the county's failure to adequately deal with the problem of understaffing at the jail was not the cause of the detainee's suicide, because an officer saw or spoke to the detainee 15 to 20 minutes prior to the time he was found hanging in his cell. The sheriff has stated that seven staff members were working at the jail at the time of the suicide, the jail's census was lower than usual at the time, and that he did not think that having additional staff would have made a tremendous difference. (Kankakee County Detention Center, Illinois)

U.S. District Court MEDICAL CARE

Smith v. Lejeune, 203 F.Supp.2d 1260 (D.Wyo. 2002). Following the death of her husband who had been detained at a county detention facility, a wife brought an action against a physician, nurses and others, alleging deliberate indifference in violation of [section] 1983. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that the physician had trained nurses regarding alcohol withdrawal, and the nurses did not have the requisite state of mind, knowledge and disregard of possible risks to sustain a deliberate indifference claim. According to the court, the physician did not fail to train the nurses, where he provided the nurses with protocols and policies to deal with alcohol and alcohol withdrawal, and conducted monthly meetings during which the policies were discussed. The nurses had not identified any signs that the detainee was suffering for alcohol withdrawal, and the detainee had denied any history of suffering from alcohol withdrawal. The detainee had been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and a breath alcohol test identified a level of .317. (Laramie County Detention Facility, Wyoming)

U.S. Appeals Court OFFICER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Smith v. Mensinger, 293 F.3d 641 (3rd Cir. 2002). A state inmate sued corrections officers and prison employees under 1983 for alleged violations of his due process and Eighth Amendment rights. The district court dismissed the due process claims and granted summary judgment for the defendants on the Eighth Amendment claims. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that factual issues precluded summary judgment for the corrections officers who were allegedly involved in an unprovoked beating of the inmate. The court also found that fact issues precluded summary judgment on the Eighth Amendment claim against a corrections officer who failed to intervene to stop other officers' use of excessive force against the inmate. (State Correctional Facility, Frackville, Pennsylvania)

U.S. District Court PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Tobias v. Campbell, 202 F.Supp.2d 934 (E.D.Mo. 2001). An inmate filed a [section] 1983 action claiming that county correctional officers failed to protect him from an assault by fellow inmates, in violation of his constitutional rights. The district court entered judgment in favor of the officers, finding that they were not deliberately indifferent to the risk of assault, even though the inmate had informed them that his cellmate was in danger. The court noted that the inmate did not tell the officers that he was also in danger. (Marion County Jail and Law Enforcement Center, Missouri)

U.S. Appeals Court OFFICER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Townsend v. Moya, 291 F.3d 859 (5th Cir. 2002). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against a prison officer seeking damages for the officer's action in cutting the inmate with a knife. The district court granted summary judgment for the officer and the appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the officer's action with a knife was not taken "under color of state law" for the purposes of [section] 1983. The court noted that if a state officer pursues personal objectives without using or misusing the power granted to him by the state, then he is not acting under the color of state law. The inmate had been working as a trusty caring for the officer's tracking dogs. The officer approached the inmate from behind with a pocketknife, saying "I told you I was going to get you, whore" and stabbed the inmate on his buttocks. The officer was eventually terminated for his actions, but criminal charges were dropped for insufficient evidence. (Hughes Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice--Institutional Division)
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Article Details
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Publication:Corrections Caselaw Quarterly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2002
Words:1756
Previous Article:13. Ex-offenders.
Next Article:15. Facilities.
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