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Failure to protect.

U.S. Appeals Court PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Alfrey v. U.s. 276 F.3d 557 (9th Cir. 2002). The personal representative of a federal prisoner who was killed by his cellmate brought Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and Bivens actions against the government and corrections officials. The district court dismissed the Bivens claim and granted summary judgment for the defendants based on the discretionary-function exception to FTCA. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that the plaintiff failed to state a Bivens claim and that the discretionary-function exception barred an FTCA claim based on the officers' response to the report of the ceilmate's threat. But the appeals court found that federal correctional officers had a non-discretionary duty to perform a "Central Inmate Monitoring" evaluation of the prisoner, who was to be held at a federal facility pending trial on a federal charge, before assigning the inmate to share a cell with a federal prisoner, precluding summary judgment on the FTCA claim. (Sherida n Federal Correctional Facility, Oregon)

U.S. District Court

PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Benner v. McAdory, 165 F. Supp. 2d 773 (N.D. Ill. 2001). A state prison inmate brought a [sections] 1983 action against corrections officials and officers, alleging they were deliberately indifferent to his safety and permitted a fellow inmate to assault him. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court held that the superintendent's failure to move the inmate out of a unit that housed a member of a gang that the inmate had identified as wanting to kill him, did not amount to deliberate indifference and was, at most, negligence. The court found that the fact that the inmate had chosen to approach the fellow inmate's cell precluded recovery because the proximate cause of the inmate's assault was the inmate's own actions. The inmate was scalded with hot water when he approached the fellow inmate's cell, without an escort, to retrieve his legal papers. (Stateville Correctional Facility, Joust, Illinois)

U.S. Appeals Court

SUICIDE

Boncher ex rel. Boncher v. Brown County 272 F.3d 484 (7th Cir. 2001). The estate of a prisoner who had committed suicide brought a [section] 1983 action against jail officials alleging deliberate indifference to the risk of the prisoner's suicide. The district court granted summary judgment for the jail officials and the appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that evidence was insufficient that jail officials were deliberately indifferent, even though intake officers had little training and relied on a checklist that was deficient in several areas. The court noted that the officers were making a judgment that was not likely to be assisted by special training and that the jail was in compliance with the state's minimum standards for suicide prevention. The prisoner had been arrested after a domestic altercation, and had a long history of alcoholism and had attempted suicide at least three times, but this history was not known to the arresting officers or the personnel of the jail. The prisoner was joki ng with officers during his admission to the jail and the officers thought him to be a "happy drunk" He was placed in a regular cell instead of the jail's suicide-watch cell, and he died within 45 minutes by hanging himself with a bedsheet. The appeals court also held that the evidence offered by an expert witness was "useless" and should have been excluded. The criminologist had testified that the rate of suicide in the jail (five suicides in the preceding five years) was unusually high. (Brown County Jail, Wisconsin)

U.S. District Court

SUICIDE

Bowens v. City of Atmore. 171 F.Supp.2d 1244 (S.D.Ala. 2001). Survivors of a prisoner who committed suicide filed a [section] 1983 action alleging a conspiracy to violate the prisoner's constitutional rights, The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court found that a police dispatcher could not be held liable to the survivors, even if the dispatcher knew of the victim's alleged suicide attempt a month earlier, drug abuse and other stressors. The court noted that the victim did not exhibit a strong likelihood that she would commit suicide on the day she took her life. The victim had been convicted in municipal court of several misdemeanors and was sentenced to 120 days in a city jail. She committed suicide approximately 24 hours after admission to the jail. (City of Atmore, Alabama)

U.S. Appeals Court

PRISONER SUICIDE

Comstock v. McCrary. 273 F.3d 693 (6th Cir. 2001). The personal representative of a prisoner's estate brought a civil rights action against prison medical personnel after the prisoner committed suicide while confined. The district court denied summary judgment for the defendants based on qualified immunity and the appeals court affirmed in pert and reversed in part. The appeals court held that evidence was sufficient to establish that a prison psychologist subjectively perceived, and was deliberately indifferent to, the risk that the prisoner might commit suicide. The psychologist had released the prisoner from a suicide watch without making any reasoned assessment or evaluation of the prisoner's suicide risk at the time of release, despite concluding that the prisoner was sufficiently at risk to put him on suicide watch only one day before. The psychologist also admitted that he suspected that other inmates had targeted the prisoner as a snitch, a characterization that he knew was very perilous for the priso ner. (Reception and Guidance Center at the State Prison of Southern Michigan)

U.S. District Court

SUICIDE

Ellis ex rel. Lanthorn v. Jamerson, 174 F.Supp.2d 747 (E.D.Tenn. 2001). The mother and the minor child of a pretrial detainee who committed suicide in jail brought a [section] 1983 action against county jail officials. The district court dismissed the case, finding that the county jailor who was on duty at the time of the detainee's suicide was entitled to qualified immunity. The plaintiffs attempted to introduce evidence that the jailor was watching video surveillance monitors and saw the detainee fashion a noose and place it around his neck but did not summon help immediately. The court refused to allow a statement made by the county sheriff to the media to be used as evidence, even though it might support the assertion that jail staff did not act expediently to prevent the detainee's death. (Washington County Jail, Tennessee)

U.S. Appeals Court

PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Flint ex rel. Flint v. KY Dept. of Corrections 270 F.3d 340(6th Cir. 2001). The estate of a prisoner who had been murdered in prison filed a [section] 1983 action against state corrections officials. The district court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity and the appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the murder of the prisoner was "sufficiently serious" to constitute a violation of the Eighth Amendment, that officials were deliberately indifferent to threats to the prisoner, and that officials acted unreasonably in taking no action to protect the prisoner. The prisoner worked in the prison print shop, which was managed by a former prisoner who had what was characterized as a "close relationship" with several inmates, allowing them to make telephone calls in violation of prison rules. The prisoner reported this situation and this angered other prisoners and the manager, resulting in threats against the prisoner's life. Prison officials were aware o f these threats. The shop was left unsupervised one day by prison staff and another inmate took a hammer from the shop tool room and bludgeoned the prisoner to death. (Luckett Correctional Complex, Kentucky)

U.S. District Court

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Goode v. Correctional Medical Services, 168 F.Supp.2d 289 (D.Del. 2001). An inmate sued various prison officials, a third party medical contractor, and the contractor's nursing employees alleging excessive force, sexual assault and Eighth Amendment violations in connection with an obstetric examination. The district court held that the inmate had sufficiently exhausted administrative remedies, the third-party medical contractor had no civil rights liability on the basis of respondeat superior, and the inmate stated an Eighth Amendment claim against the employees. The employees allegedly hugged and kissed the inmate during the examination, and conducted an unauthorized internal examination. The incident allegedly caused the inmate light bleeding, caused her blood pressure to rise, and caused her to go into labor four weeke early. (Baylor Women's Correctional Facility, Delaware)

U.S. District Court

SUICIDE

Holland v. City of Atmore, 168 F.Supp.2d 1303 (S.D.Ala. 2001). Survivors of an inmate who committed suicide during his period of pretrial confinement filed a [section] 1983 action. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court held that jail staff did not have a duty to take any precautions to prevent his suicide, where the inmate had not shown a strong likelihood of taking his life. The inmate had been admitted to the city jail after being arrested for driving under the influence and other offenses. He was booked into the facility and locked down. Within thirty minutes he was found dead or dying in his cell, having used his shoelaces to hang himself. The plaintiffs had argued that the inmate had previously attempted to take his own life and that city police knew about these attempts. (Atmore City Jail, Alabama)

U.S. Appeals Court

RIOT

Jeffers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895 (9th Cir. 2001). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against prison officials after being shot during a prison riot The district court denied the officials' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds and they appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that the officials were qualifiedly immune from civil rights liability and were not deliberately indifferent. The court noted that prison officials had investigated rumors of impending inmate violence before the riot and there was no evidence that they should have done anything differently once the threat materialized. According to the court, a prison warden complied with a statewide housing practice and he had no affirmative duty to change the policy. The inmate bad been shot in the neck during the disturbance. (California State Prison, Sacramento)

U.S. Appeals Court

PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Marsh v. Butler County. Ala., 268 F.3d 1014 (11th Cir. 2001). Former county jail inmates brought a [section] 1983 action against a county and sheriff to recover for injuries they sustained when they were beaten by other prisoners. The district court dismissed the action and the inmates appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part' reversed in part, and remanded the case. The appeals court held that allegations that the county failed to maintain the jail constituted deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmates, sufficient to survive the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court found that the sheriff did not have a qualified immunity defense available to her because preexisting case law established at the time that the conditions of confinement alleged by the plaintiffs did pose a risk of harm to the inmates. The court held that allegations that the county received many reports of the jail's deteriorated conditions but took no remedial measures were sufficient to allege deliberat e indifference to the substantial risk of serious harm faced by inmates in the jail. According to the court, allegations that jail conditions such as a lack of locks on cell doors resulted in the plaintiffs being assaulted by their fellow prisoners, stated a claim for an Eighth Amendment violation. The court found that the inmates also stated Eighth Amendment violations by alleging that there was no segregation of nonviolent inmates from violent inmates, pretrial detainees from convicted criminals, juveniles from adults, and inmates with mental disorders from those without. Claims were also stated by allegations that the jail was sometimes overcrowded and understaffed, that inmates could make weapons from materials torn from the jail's dilapidated structure, that cells were not visually inspected, that no lock down of prisoners in their cells occurred, and that inmates were not disciplined when they attempted to escape, threatened jailers, destroyed property, or assaulted other inmates. (Butler County Jail, A labama)

U.S. District Court

SUICIDE

Naumoff v. Old, 167 F. Supp.2d 1250 (D.Kan. 2001). A mother whose son had committed suicide while confined in a jail brought a [section] 1983 action against a county sheriff The sheriff moved for summary judgment and the court granted the motion, finding that the mother failed to allege an injury to her own constitutional rights. The court held that the mother lacked standing to bring the [section] 1983 action because she brought the action in her individual capacity rather than as representative of her son's estate. The mother did not make a claim for deprivation of familial association or otherwise allege injury to her own constitutional rights. (Wabaunsee County Jail, Kansas)

U.S. District Court

OFFICER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Piedra v. True. 169 F.Supp.2d 1239 (D.Kan. 2001). A federal prisoner brought an action alleging that assaults by prison officers violated his constitutional rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officers, finding that they were entitled to qualified immunity for beating the prisoner while he was handcuffed. According to the court, it was not clearly established at the time that guards could not use force on a combative prisoner who was handcuffed. The court noted that medical records did not support the prisoner's claim that he was repeatedly beaten. According to the court, the prisoner swung a telephone, kicked, spat and verbally assaulted the officers. (United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas)

U.S. District Court

PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Rodriguez v. Connecticut 169 F.Supp.2d 39 (D.Conn. 2001). The mother of an inmate who had been killed by his cellmate brought an action seeking damages. The district court found that the commissioner of corrections and a facility warden were personally involved in the placement of the inmate in a cell with a rival gang member, even though they were not personally responsible for cell assignment. The court also held that issues of material fact precluded summary judgment for correctional officers. The officers were allegedly watching television at the time of the attack and could not hear any fights, leaving inmates unsupervised, and allegedly delayed calling for medical attention so they could put the television away. (Garner Correctional Institution, Connecticut)

U.S. Appeals Court

SUICIDE

Sanville v. McCaughtry, 266 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2001). The mother of a mentally ill inmate who committed suicide while incarcerated in a state prison brought an action against prison physicians, wardens and officers. The district court dismissed the case and the appeals court affirmed in part, and reversed and remanded in part. The appeals court held that the allegations stated a claim that the officers were aware of a substantial risk of harm that the inmate would commit suicide and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the inmate's suicide. According to the appeals court, the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on the [section] 1983 individual liability claims. The mother alleged that the inmate had recently lost nearly one-third of his body weight, had written letters to her contemplating his death, had written a last will and testament, had told officers that he planned to commit suicide, and had covered his cell openings with toilet paper so that it was difficult to see inside. The mothe r also alleged that the inmate was last seen alive by officers at 10:00 a.m. and that in the following five hours before his suicide was discovered his cell window was covered with toilet paper, there was no apparent attempt to determine if the inmate was stable. (Waupun Correctional Institution, Wisconsin)

U.S. Appeals Court

PRISONER ON PRISONER ASSAULT

Skrtich v. Thornton, 267 F.3d 1251 (11th Cir. 2001). A prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against corrections officers, alleging he was subjected to excessive and unjustified use of force while incarcerated. The court denied summary judgment for the defendants. The court held that the officers' alleged beating of the prisoner during a cell extraction, after he had been incapacitated by a shock from an electronic shield, violated the prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights. The court found that if proven, the alleged actions violated clearly established constitutional law and the officers would not be protected by qualified immunity. According to the court, the prisoner's injuries did not result from a de minimis use of force, where the injuries included multiple rib fractures, lacerations to the scalp' and abdominal injuries requiring hospitalization for nine days and months of rehabilitation. (Florida State Prison)

U.S. Appeals Court

PROTECTION FROM HARM

Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, 273 F.3d 682 (6th Cir. 2001). The personal representative of the estate of a prisoner who died in jail custody, after denying that he had ingested cocaine and refusing medical treatment, brought a federal civil rights suit against a city, county and various officials and employees. The district court entered summary judgment for the defendants and the appeals court affirmed. The appeals court held that the arresting officers and jail personnel were not deliberately indifferent to the detainee's rights in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that the detainee was not punished in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The court found that the city and county could not be held liable for failure to train, in the absence of a constitutional violation by individual defendants. According to the court, jail personnel were not deliberately indifferent to the medical needs of the detainee even though he exhibited some behavioral symptoms at the time of intake, where the personnel aske d the detainee whether he had swallowed drugs, stated that they would get him medical help if he had and that he would not face additional charges, and generally kept him under observation even though one officer failed to do so. The court noted that detainee repeatedly denied ingesting drugs, refused medical treatment, and offered an alternative explanation for his symptoms. (Battle Creek Police Department and Calhoun County Jail, Michigan)
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Publication:Corrections Caselaw Quarterly
Geographic Code:1U9OR
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:3030
Previous Article:Ex-offenders.
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