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Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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Monthly Law Journal Article: Avoiding Liability for Antibiotic Resistant Infections in Prisoners, 2011 (3) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
The City of New
York reached a $2.25 million settlement with the family of a homeless veteran
mentally ill man arrested on charges of trespassing in a public housing
building. He died in what was described as a "searing hot cell"
at the jail complex on Rikers Island. The temperature in the cell in the
jail's mental health unit allegedly exceeded 100 degrees, and the heating
equipment there on the date of his death in February was broken, excessively
heating the cell. The detainee was allegedly unattended for around four
hours in the cell. The death was alleged a result of hypothermia caused
by exposure to the heat and its adverse interaction with antipsychotic
medication the detainee was taking for schizoaffective disorder. Murdough
v. City of New York, settlement reached before a planned lawsuit could
be filed, reported in the New York Times, Oct. 31, 2014.
An inmate at a county detention facility was found dead in his cell from a methadone overdose. A lawsuit by his estate claimed that his serious medical needs had been deliberately disregarded in violation of the Eighth Amendment. A federal appeals court affirmed a grant of summary judgment to the defendants, finding that there was no evidence that the defendants knew that the decedent was suffering serious side effects from methadone but deliberately ignored the problem. There was also no evidence that a supervisor had failed to train a detention deputy. Laganiere v. The County of Olmsted, #14-1088, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 22136 (8th Cir.).
A pretrial detainee was in jail waiting for a probable cause determination. He was rapidly tapered off of psychotropic medication by the jail's medical staff, and complained of seizure-like symptoms, but was placed in an isolated cell for seven hours, after which he was found dead. A lawsuit was filed against the county and a jail nurse. During summary judgment proceedings in the case, an appeal, and post-remand pretrial preparations, both sides used a deliberate indifference legal standard, but six weeks before trial, the plaintiff's counsel argued for the first time that the correct legal standard for the jury instructions was objective reasonableness rather than deliberate indifference. The trial court abused its discretion in granting the nurse's motion to bar the plaintiff arguing this legal standard and in trying the case under the deliberate indifference standard. While the plaintiff's long, unexplained delay in asserting the correct standard was "puzzling," there was not a sufficient explanation in the trial court's ruling as to how the defendant nurse would suffer prejudice as a result of the delay. The judgment in favor of the county was upheld, however, as the shift in the legal standard would not have any impact on the ruling as to it liability. King v. Kramer, #13-2379, 763 F.3d 635 (7th Cir. 2014).
A state law wrongful death claim against both government officials and private medical contractors rising out of the death of a pretrial detainee from diabetic ketoacidosis was properly dismissed for failure to comply with affidavit and report requirements of a state statute. But the failure to allow the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to attempt to comply with those requirements was an abuse of discretion, particularly when the trial court did not make any factual determinations to base that refusal on. Claims against the sheriff were properly dismissed as the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that the sheriff had any knowledge about a problem with diabetic detainees refusing to participation in their medical treatment, causing serious adverse effects. Hahn v. Walsh, #13-1766, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 15401 (7th Cir.).
A detainee in custody awaiting a probable cause determination was rapidly tapered off his psychotropic medication at a jail. He complained of seizure-like symptoms and was placed in an isolated cell for seven hours, after which he was found dead. The plaintiff's lawyer argued, correctly, that the correct standard for jury instructions in the lawsuit was objective reasonableness not the deliberate indifference standard that had been used by both parties in the case pleadings, summary judgment briefing, subsequent appeal, and remand pretrial preparations. The trial court barred the plaintiff's attorney from arguing this because of tardiness in raising the issue. The federal appeals court reversed, stating that the delay in asserting the correct standard was "puzzling," but that the trial court had failed to show how the defendants would suffer any prejudice because of the delay. King v. Kramer, #13-2379, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 13252 (7th Cir.).
The widow of a detainee at a county jail claimed that officers used excessive force while extracting him from his cell, which resulted in his asphyxiation and death, and that some defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs during the incident. The appeals court, overturning summary judgment for the defendants, found that there were genuine issues of material fact from which a jury could conclude that excessive force was used. Further proceedings were needed to consider whether individual defendants should face trial on either direct liability for use of force or on a bystander liability theory. The appeals court upheld summary judgment for the individual defendants on the claim concerning deliberate indifference to serious medical needs and for the municipality on an inadequate training claim. Kitchen v. Dallas County Texas, #13-10545 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 13699 (5th Cir.).
A man arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a drug charge died in custody during booking. A number of officers restrained him when he allegedly acted in an insubordinate manner, pinning him face-down to the ground while one put him in a carotid restraint and another used a Taser on him in the stun mode on his leg for eight seconds after he was handcuffed. The appeals court upheld the trial court's denial of the defendants' motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity on both excessive force and denial of medical care claims. There was evidence that, viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, showed that the officers used various types of force on the arrestee while he was handcuffed, not resisting, and on his stomach. Estate of Booker v. Gomez, #12-1496, 745 F.3d 405 (10th Cir. 2014).
A prisoner sued over conditions in a facility, claiming that a shower floor was unsafe and slippery, that he had fallen three times and suffered a fractured hip, and that he had received inadequate medical care for his injuries. Prisoner slip and fall claims, the appeals court held, almost never serve as the basis for constitutional violations as a matter of law. Claims against two defendants who allegedly ignored the plaintiff's complaints and pleas for help, however, should not have been dismissed. The allegation that a hearing officer ignored the prisoner's complaint about his back pain during a hearing on an entirely different matter did not state an Eighth Amendment claim. Coleman v. Sweetin, #12-40012, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 4644 (5th Cir.).
A detainee at a county jail died as a result of a perforated duodenal ulcer, succumbing to sepsis. He had allegedly complained about stomach pain prior to his death, displayed signs of agitation, and acted in a bizarre manner indicating mental health problems. His estate claimed that medical staff members were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, and could have saved his life if they had given him prompt medical attention in the 36 hours before his death. Expert witnesses stated that he received substandard care. Summary judgment for the defendants was upheld as it could not be concluded that the medical staff deliberately failed to provide appropriate treatment after becoming aware of his serious medical needs. They had mistakenly interpreted his symptoms as indicating a different medical condition, for which they provided appropriate care. Claims against the private corporation providing medical care for inadequate training and supervision were properly rejected, and the trial court appropriately decided not to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims. Rouster v. Saginaw Cnty., #13-1673, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 6491, 2014 Fed App. 0069P (6th Cir.).
After a woman's son died at a county jail from multiple drug intoxication, she sued two correctional officers for failing to prevent the death. One officer was entitled to qualified immunity as he did not have any subjective knowledge of the fact that the prisoner needed medical attention, and therefore could not have acted with deliberate indifference. A second officer, however, under the alleged circumstances he confronted, should have realized that a constitutional violation would occur if he deliberately ignored the need for medical attention, so he was not entitled to qualified immunity. Thompson v. King, #12-3450, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 19363 (8th Cir.).
An arrestee who appeared intoxicated actively resisted officers both during the process of being arrested and when taken into jail. He was handcuffed and pepper sprayed. Then, at the jail, when he continued to resist, he was held down and a Taser was applied to him three times in the stun mode. He was held face down, ceased breathing, and was taken to a hospital where he died. A medical expert for the plaintiff expressed the opinion that his cause of death was traumatic asphyxia due to compression of his neck and back while being restrained. A federal appeals court ruled that the defendant officers were entitled to qualified immunity when there was insufficient evidence to support the strangulation theory, since only the expert's conclusory opinion supported it. That opinion was contradicted by other evidence, including the testimony of all the officers and two EMTs. Burdine v. Sandusky County, Ohio, #12-3672, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 7691, 2013 Fed. App. 376N, 2013 WL 1606906 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A 23-year-old prisoner, with no known life-threatening conditions, was transferred to a new facility. Under the care of employees of a private medical provider that had a contract to provide care to prisoners, he was treated for moderate depression and prescribed medications. A month later, he was found dead in his cell and an autopsy showed that he died of an epileptic seizure disorder. He had been given both Amitriptyline and Trazodone the previous three days. In a lawsuit by his estate a forensic pathologist for the plaintiff reported that the death was likely caused by a fatal drug interaction. A federal appeals court rejected a motion for qualified immunity by the defendant psychiatrist, as a fact finder could find that he had been deliberately indifferent to a serious risk of harm from the drug interaction. Quigley v. Thai, #11-2014, 707 F.3d 675 (6th Cir. 2013).
A prison rejected the "incessant" requests by a prisoner suffering from scoliosis for a back brace, orthopedic shoes, a medical mattress and a lower bunk. A federal appeals court ound that there was "overwhelming" evidence that the plaintiff had no medical need for any of the requested items, with the exception maybe of a lower bunk. Based on the prisoner's claim that he had suffered injuries while trying to climb into a higher bunk after he was refused a request to sleep in a health care unit, the court ordered further proceedings on that claim alone. Withers v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., #10-3012, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 4002 (7th Cir.).
A prisoner serving a sentence at a county jail in Mississippi suffered injuries while on a work detail in a county work program under the supervision of the sheriff's office. The county and the medical corporation that provided him with services for his injuries sought to collect reimbursement for medical expenses from a state public entity Workers' Compensation Trust that provides workers' compensation for the county. A federal appeals court found that the prisoner was not covered under workers' compensation as the county did not have an enforceable contract to hire the prisoner which was a precondition for coverage. Vuncannon v. United States, #12-60435, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 5284 (5th Cir.).
A doctor had no liability for the death of a pretrial detainee at the county jail from a massive gastrointestinal hemorrhage when he had no knowledge of the detainee's medical problems before he died. A nurse had moved the detainee to medical solitary after he vomited blood, but believed that his condition could be handled by the use of the standing medication orders without hospitalizing him. Since there was nothing in the record to indicate past incidents in which detainees were harmed by improper nursing assessments or treatment based on the jail's standing orders, there was no proof of deliberate indifference by the county. Brown v. Bolin, #11-10511, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 25433 (5th Cir.).
The highest court in New York overturned the quashing of a subpoena duces tecum that the N.Y. State Commission of Corrections issued to a hospital demanding that it produce its medical records regarding the care and treatment of an inmate in the custody of New York City who subsequently died. An exception to doctor-patient privilege was necessary for the Commission to carry out its legislated responsibilities and powers to investigate inmate deaths through its Medical Review Board. The disclosure of the records was also not barred by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rules. Matter of New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., #64, 19 N.Y.3d 239, 969 N.E.2d 765 (2012).
The state of Nevada has reached a $450,000 settlement with the mother of an inmate who died in state prison. The board that approved the award was told by the state that he died from an adverse reaction to an administered anti-psychotic drug, even though his death certificate labeled his death a homicide. The plaintiff's attorney claimed that the prisoner "literally was strangled to death by the correctional officers" who were holding him down to administer the medication. Johnson v. Palmer, #2:11-cv-01604, U.S. District Court (D. Nev. Aug. 2012).
A correctional officer applied a "sleeper hold" to a pre-trial detainee, restrained in handcuffs and shackles, who continued to resist. The officer allegedly rendered the detainee unconscious using the hold and failed to tell a nurse at the jail that he was "gurgling," and then lying silent and motionless, and needed medical attention. The officer was convicted of depriving the detainee of his rights and of obstructing a federal investigation into the detainee's subsequent death by falsifying documents. The evidence was sufficient to prove that the officer used force to put the detainee into a position requiring medical attention, and then acted with deliberate indifference towards his serious medical needs. United States v. Gray, #11-3143, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 18528, 2012 Fed App. 0297P (6th Cir.).
The widow of a pretrial detainee at a county jail claimed that his death was due to the company with the contract for medical services there weaning him off alprazolam which he took for anxiety, in favor of other medication in its standard formulary. A federal appeals court held that the county might be liable for restricting physician access to him after he clearly was in distress, having drug withdrawal symptoms, having a seizure, and having his face turn blue. A site director nurse at the jail might also be liable for allegedly ignoring his medical needs, and moving him to an isolated padded cell, where he died. King v. Kramer, #11-2204, 680 F.3d 1013 (7th Cir. 2012).
Three nurses who allegedly received but ignored medical requests concerning a prisoner from corrections officers and other inmates could be liable for his death from TB. They allegedly stated that the request for treatment had to be from the prisoner himself, but did nothing else until he had to be treated by a doctor on an emergency basis when he was "near death." Two other nurses, one whose only contact with the prisoner was at intake, and the other who misread his TB test, could not be held liable, nor could facility administrators or the county. McCaster v. Clausen, #11-2612, 684 F.3d 740 (8th Cir. 2012).
An inmate was thrown from his seat and injured while being transported to a medical facility in shackles on a bus that was not equipped with seat belts. The failure to provide such seat belts, standing alone, does not violate the Eighth or Fourteenth Amendments. Providing such seat belts in vehicles transporting prisoners could involve security and safety concerns, even if it is reasonable to provide them in vehicles transporting the general public. A correctional facility could withhold providing seatbelts for legitimate penological reasons without an intent to punish. The plaintiff also failed to show that the defendants knew of, yet disregarded, an excessive risk to prisoner safety. Jabbar v. Fischer, #11–3765, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 12747 (2nd Cir.).
A schizophrenic man arrested for an attempted bank robbery often refused to take his medication, bathe or eat while in a county jail. He was transported back and forth between a number of mental health facilities and the jail on a number of occasions. While at the jail pending a transfer to a state psychiatric institution, he died from excessively drinking water ("psychogenic polydipsia."). While his estate could pursue claims concerning the sanitary condition of his cell (despite the fact that he may have helped cause the conditions, based on his mental incompetence, there was no basis that any of the defendants were liable for his death, absent any evidence that they were on notice that he might compulsively engage in water drinking to the extent that it would put his life in danger. Estate of Rice v. Correctional Medical Services, #09–2804, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 5728 (7th Cir.),
A mentally disturbed man arrested for assaulting an officer was forcibly dressed in pink underwear at the county jail, and yelled out that he was being "raped" (which was not the case). Following his release on bail, and hearing that there was a warrant for his arrest for spitting on an officer during the dress out, he ran away from his home, fearing another arrest. Running four or five miles, he died the next day from acute cardiac arrhythmia. A federal appeals court found that his estate validly stated a federal civil rights claim, and that testimony was properly offered to show that the decedent experienced a "sense of humiliation at being forced to wear pink." With no explanation or defense offered for the practice of dressing detainees in pink, the practice "appears to be punishment without legal justification." The trial court acted properly, however, in excluding testimony by the plaintiff's expert that the dress-out procedure was "probably" the cause of his death. That testimony failed to take into account "generally accepted facts" that cardiac arrhythmia occurred at a generally higher rate among schizophrenics, and explain how that and the fact that stress could render the condition fatal were enough to pinpoint the specific incident that caused the death. Family members should not have been barred from testifying about what the decedent told them about his experiences, for the purpose of showing his state of mind in reaction to it. Wagner v. County of Maricopa, #10-15501, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 4721 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner was assisting law enforcement in an investigation into drug trafficking within a county prison. While in protective custody for his own safety, he was found dead in his cell. While prison authorities maintained that he committed suicide, the executors of his estate filed a lawsuit claiming that he had been killed by prison guards because of his cooperation with the investigation. A federal appeals court ruled that, regardless of whether that was true, the plaintiffs could not establish supervisory liability on the part of defendant prison officials, since they had not alleged that they had any personal knowledge of threats to the prisoner and acted with deliberate indifference to those threats. Dock v. Rush, #10-4458, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 12877 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
New York City has reached a $2 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that an intoxicated postal worker, detained after a dispute in which he was barred from his apartment, died in custody from the untreated effect of severe alcohol withdrawal. The decedent had reportedly told jail medical personnel that he had been drinking two or three pints of rum a day, and he appeared agitated and disoriented. The defendants subsequently allegedly failed to follow a written protocol on treatment of severe alcohol withdrawal, which includes hospitalization. Instead, he was kept in the jail's general population, and died approximately 28 hours after his arrival there. Livermore v. City of New York, $1:08-CV-04442, (S.D.N.Y. May 23, 2011).
A corrections officer was not entitled to qualified immunity in a lawsuit over the death of a pretrial detainee from a drug overdose. Evidence that showed that the detainee was intoxicated and that the officer subsequently altered jail medical records concerning the detainee indicated that the officer may have acted with deliberate indifference to the detainee's risk of death. Border v. Trumbull County Bd. of Comm'rs, #10-3167, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 5649 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A federal judge has denied a county's motion to dismiss a federal civil rights lawsuit by a pretrial detainee at its jail seeking damages for injuries he suffered when a rat allegedly came out of a hole in his mattress and bit his penis, causing him sexual dysfunction and emotional distress. The plaintiff argued that the county acted with "deliberate indifference to his health and safety in failing to adequately protect him from rodents." There were allegedly eleven prisoner complaints about rodents in the two years prior to the incident, as well as 50 prisoners signing a petition requesting action against the presence of rodents, and the plaintiff claimed that adequate corrective measures were not taken. The trial judge agreed that the allegations were sufficient to survive summary judgment. Solomon v. Nassau County, #08-CV-703, U.S. Dist. Ct. (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 7, 2011).
A pretrial detainee in a county jail contracted Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”), a staph infection resistant to usual penicillin-type antibiotics. A jury awarded him damages. Upholding this result and a finding of county liability, a federal appeals court found that there was evidence that the county knew of the presence of a staph infection in the jail, including an infection rate as high as 20%, yet failed to adopt known measures that would have combated it, such as installing hand washing and disinfecting stations and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and continued to house detainees in conditions leading to infection. Duvall v. Dallas Cty., #09-10660, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 660 (5th Cir.).
After being arrested on a DUI, a Pennsylvania man agreed to voluntary participation in a community service disposition program involving manual labor. He was assigned to do construction work, which he said he preferred to picking up trash. He did not indicate that he suffered from any medical condition or restriction, and, if he had, he would have been required to submit medical documentation to make sure his job assignment was appropriate. The 59-year-old man reported for work in hot weather. He was taking cardiac medication to lower his blood pressure and control his cholesterol. On the second day, he collapsed and died from a heart attack that occurred as a consequence of arteriosclerotic coronary artery disease, with a history of hypertension, in association with exertion. A federal civil rights lawsuit against the county by his wife claimed that it violated his rights by failing to properly medically screen him for his work assignment, among other things. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the county, rejecting liability on a state-created danger theory, particularly as the county had no reason to know of the decedent's medical condition. There was no conduct that shocked the conscience, and no policy or custom of the county that caused the death. Marvel v. County of Delaware, #09-2838, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21234 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner sued food service employees, the warden, and the assistant warden, claiming that they failed to screen inmates' food for foreign objects, resulting in him biting down on a metal nut found in cornbread served to him, leading to "excruciating pain" and a broken tooth. A federal appeals court ruled that the trial court acted erroneously in dismissing the lawsuit for failure to state a non-frivolous claim without allowing the prisoner the opportunity to develop further the facts of his claim. "A single incident of food poisoning or finding a foreign object in food does not constitute a violation of the constitutional rights of the prisoner affected. Evidence of frequent or regular injurious incidents of foreign objects in food, on the other hand, raises what otherwise might be merely isolated negligent behavior to the level of a constitutional violation." The prisoner alleged that similar incidents had happened before, and that one defendant had been aware of it. Green v. Atkinson, #09-11050, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21373 (5th Cir.).
A pretrial detainee failed to show that his supposedly adverse reaction to HDQ Neutral, a cleaning product used at the county jail, involved a serious medical need for purposes of trying to establish that the defendants acted with deliberate indifference in violation of his constitutional rights. The prisoner, who was taking medication for asthma, alleged that exposure to the cleaning product caused him to "cough up blood." The record indicated that a reasonable jury could find that the prisoner did not show that a physician or other medical personnel had diagnosed him with a medical condition that required treatment while he was detained. An examination of the prisoner revealed only some nasal drainage, and otherwise found him in normal condition, with an instruction that he should move away from where the cleaning products were being used. While one doctor later stated an opinion that chemicals used at the jail caused medical problems for the prisoner, a competing expert rejected the diagnosis of asthma, and found no evidence of pulmonary fibrosis in a CT scan. The jury thus reasonably determined that the prisoner failed to establish a serious medical need while incarcerated. Christian v. Wagner, #09-2417, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 21609(8th Cir.).
A 17-year-old detainee at a state-operated juvenile detention center suffered a spinal cord injury while trying to make a tackle during a "pick-up" football game there. His mother sued the agency running the facility, as well as several staff members. Claims against the center and its staff in their official capacities were barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity, as the center was an arm of the state. A summary judgment was also granted to individual defendants on Eighth Amendment claims, as the plaintiff failed to show a substantial risk of serious harm that "violates contemporary standards of decency." or deliberate indifference to the youth's safety. Betts v. New Castle Youth Dev. Ctr., #09-3753, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 19052 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner suffered a head injury when a showerhead broke. He claimed that a maintenance worker, a nurse, and a number of supervisory personnel, violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The prisoner failed to show how the maintenance worker acted with deliberate indifference towards the risk that he might be injured by the showerhead. The nurse cleaned and dressed his wound, provided him with pain medication, and encouraged him to rest, which did not amount to deliberate indifference to his medical needs, Finally, the supervisory personnel were not shown to have been personally involved in anything that could result in their liability for the prisoner's injury. Sanaah v. Howell, #10-1000,2010 U.S. App. Lexis 13038 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A prisoner suffered a head injury when a showerhead broke. He claimed that a maintenance worker, a nurse, and a number of supervisory personnel, violated his Eighth Amendment rights. The prisoner failed to show how the maintenance worker acted with deliberate indifference towards the risk that he might be injured by the showerhead. The nurse cleaned and dressed his wound, provided him with pain medication, and encouraged him to rest, which did not amount to deliberate indifference to his medical needs, Finally, the supervisory personnel were not shown to have been personally involved in anything that could result in their liability for the prisoner's injury. Sanaah v. Howell, #10-1000,2010 U.S. App. Lexis 13038 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
An inmate who uses crutches because he is an amputee was assigned to a third story cell and fell while coming down some stairs. He sued prison officers for alleged deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Officers who made the cell assignment were entitled to rely on medical restrictions designated by medical personnel. There was some evidence to support a jury verdict for the remaining defendants, and the verdict was upheld on appeal. Bell v. Herod, #08-40682, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 4641 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
A Michigan woman was booked into a county jail on a parole detainer, and started to show signs of delirium tremens ("DT"s), a life threatening condition caused by acute alcohol withdrawal. Jail officials recognized these symptoms and implemented precautions for her safety, including placing her in an observation cell and consulting a physician. Her condition worsened, however, and she started beating on the door, screaming, and hitting the walls and was moved to a padded cell. In the morning, a parole agent arrived at the jail to serve her with a notice of parole violation charges. Observing her condition as being incoherent and unaware of her identity, he decided that she was unable to be transported to another facility, or served, and he left. A videotape indicated that her last movements occurred at the time that the parole agent observed her, and when jail officials later checked on her, she was unresponsive and taken to a hospital, where she died shortly thereafter. The parole agent was entitled to summary judgment in a lawsuit over her death, as nothing that he did proximately caused her death. Smith v. County of Lenawee, #09-1703, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 7526 (6th Cir.).
An Ohio inmate injured during falls from an upper bunk bed claimed that his injuries were due to the fact that his handcuffs were not removed for six hours. The court found that, as to the first fall, correctional employees knew or should have known of the prisoner's medical restrictions, mandating that he sleep on a lower bunk bed, and their failure to honor this restriction proximately caused his injuries. As to the second fall, however, the prisoner himself failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent further injuries. He had been allowed to sleep on the floor, but chose instead to move to an upper bunk bed, and hid his hands and handcuffs from the view of staff members on purpose. He was therefore responsible himself for his additional injuries. Whitmore v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, #2008-10366, 2010 Ohio Misc. Lexis 24 (Ct. of Claims).
A jail received a pretrial detainee who was known to be diabetic and a schizophrenic. After his arrival, he ate little, felt ill, had high blood sugar, had rapid breathing, was unsteady on his feet, and had a fever. He was transferred to a hospital after thirteen days, and doctors there found that he had pneumonia and improperly functioning kidneys. Five days later, he died. In a lawsuit by his estate against a hospital, jail officers, licensed practical nurses, and a nurse practitioner, the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity, as there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether they were deliberately indifferent towards the detainee's health. A reasonable jury could find that the jail officers should have realized that he needed immediate medical care, and that medical personnel gave him "blatantly inappropriate" treatment. Estate of Gee v. Johnson, #09-1895, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 3115 (Unpub. 7th Cir.),
A prisoner claimed that a facility maintenance supervisor and three correction officers acted maliciously and willfully in exposing him to ultraviolet radiation, which caused him physical injuries. The defendant officers were not entitled to qualified immunity when they attempted to rely on their own, conflicting version of events to demonstrate that they had not acted for retaliatory or malicious reasons. The prisoner, however, alleged nothing more than negligence on the part of the maintenance supervisor, which was insufficient for a federal civil rights claim. Williams v. Jackson, #09-1843, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 6172 (8th Cir.).
A trial court ruled that a reasonable jury might be able to find that a sergeant had knowingly disregarded a light duty restriction on an inmate in ordering him to unload a truck despite his possible carpal tunnel syndrome. Despite this, the defendant sergeant was entitled to summary judgment because of the lack of evidence that unloading the truck actually caused the inmate harm or future aggravation of his condition. The inmate, to prevail, needed medical evidence concerning what the impact of lifting over twenty pounds was, and his own unqualified opinion, and the mere statement that his hands were more painful after doing the lifting was insufficient. Hoeft v. Harrop, #09-3488, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 4627 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A prisoner sought damages against the State of New York for injuries he allegedly suffered while working at a prison laundry. He claimed that a machine was malfunctioning and that maintenance people showed him and other inmates working there how to start the machine from the inside of its top lid, pushing a toggle switch or maneuvering wires inside the top of the machine. When he took laundry out of the machine, he was allegedly electrocuted. The court ruled that there was evidence that the State had known that the machine had not been working properly for months before the incident, but had done nothing to remedy the problem. The State's negligence was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries, but the prisoner did have some responsibility for his injuries. He was placed in the "untenable position" of having to obey direct orders to remove the laundry, and face the possibility of being injured. The inmate was 15% liable, and the State was 85% liable. A trial will determine the amount of damages to be awarded. Giles v. New York, #110952, 2009 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 3600 (Ct. of Claims).
A federal prisoner sought damages for injuries allegedly stemming from exposure to asbestos while working as an electrician for the prison's custodial maintenance services during his incarceration at Leavenworth. He claimed that proper protective measures were not taken. Claims against individual defendants under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671 et seq., (FTCA), were properly dismissed, as only the U.S. government can be a defendant under that statute. The defendant government argued, however, that the plaintiff's exclusive remedy for work related injuries were under the Inmate Accident Compensation Act. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 4126. Under that statute, federal prisoners who suffer a work-related injury and who still suffer a residual physical impairment as a result, can submit a claim for compensation within 45 days of his release date. If he has fully recovered at that time, however, he can make no such claim. The statute also allows for claims for wages actually lost by the prisoner while prevented from doing his work assignment due to his injury. Because of this statute, the appeals court concluded, FTCA claims against the federal government were also properly dismissed. The fact that the inmate had a lengthy sentence, and might die before he is within 45 days of his release date did not alter the result. The Inmate Accident Compensation Act, however, does not preclude the prisoner from bringing individual capacity federal civil rights claims against federal prison employees for alleged deliberate indifference to a serious risk of harm from exposure to asbestos or other work-relat6ed injuries, so those claims were reinstated. Smith v. U.S., #07-3242, 561 F.3d 1090 (10th Cir. 2009).
After a bench trial, a judge entered a judgment in favor of the U.S. government on claims by a federal prisoner that a corrections officer acted negligently while escorting him to a cell, causing him to fall and suffer injuries. The trial court did not act erroneously in allowing cross-examination on deposition testimony indicating that a letter from the plaintiff prisoner was part of a scheme to obtain money, which had a bearing on his believability. The verdict was upheld on appeal. Bacon v. U.S., #08-0194, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 26962 (Unpub. 2nd Cir.).
Correctional officers were not liable for allegedly forcing a prisoner to work despite a prior shoulder injury when there was an absence of evidence that they had knowledge of the prisoner's prior injury before he reinjured his shoulder. The evidence also showed that the officers then adequately responded to the prisoner's injury and enforced needed safety measures at the work site. Knight v. Wiseman, #09-1435, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 28195 (7th Cir.).
A woman died after being placed in four-point restraints and put into a vehicle face down for transport to jail. Upholding summary judgment for the defendant deputies and county in a federal civil rights lawsuit, the court, assuming the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, assumed that the decedent died from positional asphyxia. The plaintiffs, however, failed to show that the use of the restraints was unnecessary, or excessively disproportionate to the resistance the deputies faced from the prisoner, so that no reasonable jury could have found that the deputies used excessive force to subdue her. The plaintiff also failed to sufficiently prove a claim for alleged inadequate monitoring of the prisoner during transport. Loggins v. Carroll County, Mississippi, #08-60516, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 23730 (5th Cir.).
A federal prisoner asserted Eighth Amendment constitutional claims based on his slip and fall in the prison warehouse where he worked and the alleged failure to provide him with adequate medical care for resulting injuries. The trial court ruled that the exclusive remedy for the prisoner's on the job injuries were provided by the Inmate Accident Compensation Act (IACA), 18 U.S.C.S. § 4126(c)(4), so that his constitutional claim should be dismissed. The appeals court found that this basis for dismissing the injury claim could not be upheld, as a constitutional claim is different than a negligence injury claim, but thought that the claim should still be dismissed as the facts alleged by the plaintiff were inadequate to constitute an Eighth Amendment violation. The appeals court, however, remanded to the trial court instead for further initial consideration of the prisoner's constitutional claims. Harper v. Urbano, #08-1342, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 18464 (Unpub. 10th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed to have suffered injuries from falling on a broken grate cover while working in a prison kitchen. He claimed that prison officials wrongfully refused to fix the grate cover, refused to bring his meals to his cells to accommodate him after he was injured, and interfered with his right of access to the courts when they refused to prepare a written report concerning the incident. He also claimed that his medication was improperly delayed. A federal appeals court upheld summary judgment for the defendants, finding that the claim about the grate was a claim for negligence that could not support a federal civil rights claim, that the refusal to bring the prisoner's meals to his cell was consistent with his doctor's recommendations, that he failed to show how the absence of a written incident report prevented him from litigating over what happened, and that any claim concerning his medical treated merely showed disagreement over the proper course of treatment to be followed, rather than showing deliberate indifference. Gause v. Diguglielmo, #09-1454, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15743 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
An inmate transported by a private company from Illinois to Florida pursuant to extradition alleged that he suffered injuries during the transport because he was placed in a cage smaller than a dog crate, he was handcuffed, chained at the waist, and shackled on his legs, and the van had inadequate ventilation and no seat belts. He also stated that the officer driving the vehicle drove recklessly, that there was a smoky smell inside, and that he was prevented from using an asthma inhaler. The court found that the prisoner failed, in his federal civil rights lawsuit, to meet the physical injury requirement of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(e), as his complaints of back pain, headache, and temporary chest pain were minimal. The court ruled that the statute applied because the prisoner was in custody even though the injuries took place outside the prison. The statute would not bar a claim for injunctive relief, but the plaintiff prisoner could not show that he would again be a passenger in a vehicle operated by the defendant company. Quinlan v. Personal Transport Services Co., #08-14121, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 12224 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
A prisoner employed in a facility's kitchen claimed that he scalded his hand while performing cleaning duties. Even if, as he alleged, his injury occurred because the kitchen manager raised the water temperature unexpectedly to prepare for a state inspection, his claim, at most, amounted to one of negligence, which was insufficient to support an award of damages for violation of his federal civil rights. Caldwell v. Beard, #08-3286, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 9029 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner who was taken to a medical center for an appointment was injured as she stepped on a stepstool to exit from a transport van after having been restrained during the transport process with leg shackles and belly chains. She was thrown forward while exiting and landed on her face on the ground. Damages of $62,125 were awarded for a shoulder surgery, physical therapy, future lost wages, a permanent scar, and pain and suffering. Stewart v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, #2005-05591, 2009 Ohio Misc. Lexis 21 (Ohio Ct. of Claims).
Prisoner injured when two bolts holding an exercise machine in place broke, flinging him backwards, failed to show that his injuries were a violation of his Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The prisoner himself was not prevented from examining the equipment to discover what he now claimed was an apparent defect. Gradual deterioration of such equipment in a voluntary prison exercise facility was insufficient to amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Fitzgerald v. Corrections Corporation of America, #08-cv-01189, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 20259 (D. Colo.).
Wheelchair-bound paraplegic prisoner failed to show that he was excluded from participation in the correctional department's "medical services" program because of his disability. The prisoner claimed that he received a "defective assistive device," a pressurized mattress that was five inches wider than his bed frame, causing him to fall and be injured while transferring to his wheelchair. This did not show discriminatory intent, as required for liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but, at most, negligence, which was insufficient for an ADA claim. Additionally, the ADA claim could only be brought against the agency, and not against individual officers. Ellis v. Hager, #C07-00665, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 14835 (N.D. Ca.).
The possibility of claims for medical negligence under 42 U.S.C. Sec 233(a) of the Federal Tort Claims Act does not bar the pursuing of federal civil rights claims for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners, so that such a claim against employees and officers of the Public Health Service arising out of the death of a prisoner from allegedly repeatedly untreated penile cancer should not be dismissed. Castaneda v. Henneford, No. 08-55684, 546 F.3d 682 (9th. Cir. 2008).
Even though the treatment provided to a female inmate concluded with her death, there was no indication of deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs. She was seen in the infirmary numerous times, provided with various prescription medications, and examined by medical professionals, as well as being given a special diet, being excused from working, and told to stay in bed. While it may have constituted poor medical judgment not to have conducted additional medical tests on her, there was no evidence that there was a known excessive risk to her health that was ignored. Bennett v. State of Louisiana, No. 07-31189, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 853 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
There was no evidence that deliberate indifference by three jail officers was the cause of a pretrial detainee's death from a beating by his cellmate. While the claim was governed by the Fourteenth Amendment rather than the Eighth Amendment because the decedent was a pretrial detainee, the legal standard for liability was still deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious injury. There was no indication that the officers believed that such a risk existed. Further, they were all off-duty when the beating actually took place, after the cellmate returned from a court appearance. Their placement of the cellmate in the cell did not cause the detainee's death. Jenkins v. DeKalb County, Georgia, No. 07-15820, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 657 (11th Cir.).
A Colorado prisoner sought damages for injuries he allegedly suffered when a showerhead, newly replaced by other inmates, allegedly broke off, hitting him in the head in a manner that rendered him unconscious. He also complained that prison staff members failed to check the showerhead after its installation, and that he received inadequate medical care for his injuries. The court ordered that the lawsuit be dismissed if the prisoner failed to specify more particularly what he claimed each defendant did or failed to do. Sanaah v. Arrellano, Civil Action No. 08-cv-02117, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 91327 (D. Co.).
Estate of deceased prisoner and his heirs could not pursue, in federal civil rights lawsuit, claims arising from the death of the prisoner, allegedly shot in the head with a plastic bullet by a prison employee, and pepper sprayed by other prison employees who allegedly then placed a plastic bag over his head to increase the harm suffered from the burning effect of the pepper spray. The plaintiffs, in alleging only negligence by the defendants in causing the death failed to show that the defendant supervisory personnel did anything that they should have known would cause prison employees to take actions that would violate constitutional rights. State law claims were time barred, based on the plaintiffs' prior filing of a state court lawsuit that they voluntarily dismissed before attempting to raise such claims in the federal court proceeding. Provencio v. Vazquez, 1:07-CV-0069, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 73255 (E.D. Cal.).
In a case where a detainee allegedly died at a jail following a beating, his parents failed to show that officers who sent him to the jail rather than to a hospital were aware that his mental disorder, if not immediately treated, would create a serious risk of harm. Evidence indicated that the detainee behaved in a manner that was calm and that seemed to indicate that he was "aware" of his surroundings, giving no indication of urgently requiring medical treatment. The officers were also entitled to qualified immunity, since they had both a duty to respond to the detainee's medical needs and to honor a right to decline medical treatment. King v. County of Gloucester, No. 07-3954, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 24833 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
When prisoners were injured in a vehicle accident while on the bus being transported to a work assignment, claims for their injuries were work-related, had to be filed against the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the Inmate Accident Compensation Act, 18 U.S.C.S. § 4126, so that claims the prisoners filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act were properly dismissed. Baynes v. U.S.A., No. 07-6352, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 21775 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
The merits of a former inmate's claim that he had suffered an injury from stepping in a pothole or the uneven playing surface of a prison's basketball court was "questionable" when he had first stated that his injury resulted from a collision with another player. An intermediate appellate court upheld a decision by the New York Court of Claims denying the prisoner's motion to bring a late notice of claim. Magee v. New York, No. 504087, 2008 N.Y. App. Div. Lexis 6754 (A.D. 3rd Dept.).
Federal civil rights lawsuit for death of prisoner was rejected because it only alleged negligence by prison employees in causing the death. The prisoner was struck in the head by a plastic bullet fired by a prison employee, and other prison employees subjected him to pepper spray and placed a plastic bag over his head to increase the burning effect. Supervisory employees, the court found, were not alleged to have set into motion actions that they reasonably should have known would cause other employees to violate the prisoner's constitutional rights. State law claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Provencio v. Vazquez, No. 1:07-CV-0069, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 73255 (E.D. Cal.).
Prisoner classified by Social Security as suffering from mental disorders failed to show that alleged delays in medical care for a leg injury was disability discrimination by correctional authorities. The Texas correctional authority was not responsible for his medical care, as independent contractors provided it. The prisoner also failed to show that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice failed to adequately maintain a basketball court where he may have suffered his leg injury, for the purpose of discriminating against disabled inmates, or that he was retaliated against by forcing him to use traffic paths that were difficult to use with crutches. Norman v. Tex. Dept. of Criminal Justice, No. 07-41090, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 19914 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
Evidence in a lawsuit claiming that jail personnel used excessive force against a prisoner and denied medical care to him, resulting in him dying in his cell supported a jury's verdict rejecting claims for violations of the decedent's rights. The detainee had been involved in two separate auto accidents just prior to his arrest, one of them serious, and an autopsy concluded that he died of natural causes, specifically a heart attack. Moore v. Tuleja, No. 07-3137, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 20997 (7th Cir.).
While a prisoner claimed that prison officials had known about a loose shower seat for some time before it fell and cut his foot, he failed to show that it posed a risk of serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment, even though it did pose "some" danger. The resulting injury, a gash lasting two weeks, only required a bandage and a tetanus booster, and did not create a substantial risk of serious harm to the prisoner's future health, as required for a deliberate indifference claim. Gray v. McCormick, No. 07-3429, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 12620 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A Pennsylvania inmate claimed that his Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection was developed while he was working in a prison's laundry, and he sued for allegedly unconstitutional working conditions. An expert witness offered by the prisoner who was an environmental scientist and not a medical doctor could not testify on the cause and nature of the prisoner's skin rashes, or that he suffered from a MRSA infection, and further proceedings would determine whether he could testify on the conditions present in the prison's laundry. While the prisoner's medical records could be used to establish that he had a MRSA infection, expert witness medical testimony was needed to establish that this condition was caused by prison laundry working conditions. Wolfgang v. Smithers, Civil No. 4:CV-03-167, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28597 (M.D. Pa.).
A psychiatrist's deliberate indifference caused a mentally ill prisoner's death from severe dehydration he experienced after he was kept in a 90 to 100 degree observation room for several days. A jury awarded $2 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. The compensatory damage award was reduced to $1.5 million. A federal appeals court rejected arguments that the remaining damage awards were excessive, and found that there was sufficient evidence for the deliberate indifference finding, as well as a medical malpractice claim. Further proceedings were ordered on the trial court's reasons for allocating the compensatory damage award between the federal deliberate indifference claim and a state law medical malpractice claim, which was subject to a cap on non-economic damages. Gibson v. Moskowitz, No. 07-1074, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 9233 (6th Cir.).
Claim that the lack of a county correctional policy concerning drug overdoses caused a detainee's death in custody from a drug overdose was properly rejected. The evidence showed, in fact, that the facility's staff violated a written policy in responding to the detainee's medical complaints by failing to call for emergency medical care after he was found to have a heart rate above 100 as well as chest pain. Additionally, the detainee's estate failed to offer any evidence of how alleged inadequate medical training rendered staff members unable to adequately respond to the situation. Powers v. County of Lorain, Ohio, No. 06-4515, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 1129 (6th Cir.).
Relatives of prisoner who died from a drug overdose failed to provide any evidence to support their argument that the drugs had been administered to him by other inmates forcing him to take them, or that his death resulted from prison officials failure to provide adequate personnel to supervise inmates to avoid such incidents. The plaintiffs could proceed, however, on their claim that certain defendants acted with deliberate indifference by eliminating in-house emergency medical facilities despite the common occurrence of drug overdoses among the inmate population. Rivera-Quinones v. Rivera-Gonzalez, Civil No. 03-2326, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 81258 (D. Puerto Rico).
Prior to trying to get a court-ordered blood sample from a detainee at a county jail, employees there placed him in a three-point restraint, and a blanket was allegedly placed against his head. The prisoner then allegedly stopped breathing and, while CPR was attempted, he was subsequently pronounced dead at a hospital. Upholding summary judgment for defendant correctional officers and county, as well as the county sheriff, a federal appeals court noted that the detainee had resisted arrest, was "aggressive" at the time of the incident, and that it took several officers to restrain him. The officers were then faced with the need to make a quick decision about how to control him, and the court found that they did not apply excessive force in doing so. Burkett v. Alachua County, No. 06-14777, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 24172 (11th Cir.).
Federal appeals court upholds award of $200,000 in compensatory and $797,160 in punitive damages to parent whose son was murdered in a residential program for juvenile delinquents. By the end of 1999, four youths had been murdered while in the same juvenile facility, provided by a private company for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff's son became the fifth in 2000. The plaintiff had argued that the company that operated the facility acted in a reckless manner in failing to protect the decedent against a foreseeable risk of harm, and violated his constitutional rights, and the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff on both claims. Muldrow v. Re-Direct, Inc., No. 05-7169, 2007 U.S. App. Lexus 15814 (D.C. Cir.).
Federal appeals court disagrees with trial court's conclusion that a reasonable jury could not find, based on a layman's opinion, including the prisoner's opinion, that experienced work supervisors at his prison job responded unreasonably to a known excessive risk to his health and safety. The evidence could support a conclusion, the appeals court found, that the supervisors knew that the prisoner was suffering from serious respiratory distress from his job in a poorly ventilated and enclosed room, and that the prisoner could not avoid instances where a razor blade would catch and then slip loose uncontrollably, using the tools made available to him. Blay v. Reilly, No. 04-1347, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 17603 (10th Cir.).
Prisoner could not pursue federal civil rights claim against sheriff and county for his injury in a prison shower exit based on alleged negligence in failing to provide a shower mat, since negligence is insufficient for such a claim. The prisoner also failed to show, for purposes of an Eighth Amendment civil rights claim, that there was an official county policy or custom which results in the absence of non-slip shower exits. Smith v. Leonard, No. 06-41123, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 14003 (5th Cir.).
Federal court dismisses inmate's claim for violation of his federal civil rights stemming from injuries he suffered when the top bunk of a bunk bed in his cell collapsed on top of him, because the evidence showed, at most, that the jail and its officials may have been negligent in failing to repair the bunk bed, not that they acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's health and safety. McKnight v. McDuffie, No. CV405-183, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 26131 (S.D. Ga.).
Prisoner's claim that he slipped, fell, and was injured because of prison officials' failure to provide non-slip mats on the floor near a prison shower was based on negligence, at most, and was insufficient to be the basis for a violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, which requires a showing of deliberate indifference. Graham v. Poole, No. 06-CV-6271L, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 17916 (W.D.N.Y.).
Prisoner could not pursue claim for violation of his federal civil rights based on his slip and fall at a county jail which failed to allege anything more than mere negligence on the part of jail officials. Heredia v. Doe, 05 Civ. 5777, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 9105 (S.D.N.Y.).
In prisoner's lawsuit for injuries he allegedly suffered when the van he was traveling in was rear-ended by a vehicle driven by a correctional officer, even if the officer had been speeding, that only constituted, at most, negligence, which could not be the basis for a federal civil rights lawsuit. Further, the alleged failure to have seat belts installed in the van was not a violation of the prisoner's constitutional rights. Further proceedings allowed, however, as to whether officers acted with deliberate indifference after the accident, based on such factors as how long the inmate was detained at a facility after the accident, and whether the prisoner suffered injuries on the basis of an alleged delay in his treatment following the accident. Oliver v. Brooks, No. 5:06-cv-320, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 90676 (M.D. Ga.). [N/R]
Unresolved factual issues concerning whether there was still a "storm in progress" while the State of New York allegedly attempted to remove snow from prison premises, and whether the prisoner should have not been allowed, during the storm, to travel from the dormitory to the schoolhouse, allegedly falling on the way and suffering injuries, barred summary judgment for the state and required a trial on the prisoner's personal injury claim. The state had argued that it could not be held liable for the prisoner's injury under the "storm in progress" doctrine, allowing landowners a reasonable period of time after a storm ends to engage in snow removal efforts. DeGregorio v. State of New York, No. 109305, 2006 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 2820 (Ct. Claims). [N/R]
The fact that a prisoner was forced to remain covered in raw sewage for some time after being required to clean up a sewage water back up in a prison was sufficient, by itself, to show that he suffered an injury as required for liability under Ohio state law. Additionally, there was evidence that he needed numerous treatments for a skin rash. The parties in his lawsuit stipulated that inmates in the clean-up detail were not provided with adequate protective gear and were not allowed to shower until the next day. O'Banion v. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, No. 2005-0579, 2006 Ohio Misc. Lexis 159 (Ohio Ct. of Claims). [N/R]
Ordering a prisoner to continue working with a defective printing press, which subsequently tore off his thumb could be a violation of the Eighth Amendment, despite the fact that the prisoner originally obtained the specific prison work assignment by voluntarily applying for it. Morgan v. Morgensen, No. 04-35608, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 25028 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB Nov]
In Alabama prisoner's lawsuit seeking back pay and damages and challenging the power of correctional officials to force prisoners to perform work on a private contract job with an outside vendor of sports equipment, the state agencies and Department of Corrections, and prison warden were all entitled to sovereign immunity under state law. Latham v. Department of Corrections, No. 1031810, 927 So. 2d 815 (Ala. 2005). [N/R]
County jail was not liable for inmate's burn injuries suffered during kitchen work assignment. While the prisoner claimed that the jail failed to provide him with reasonably safe equipment and adequate training for the job, the prisoner admitted that he failed to use a funnel, gloves, and other equipment provided for him to perform the task of transferring boiling water from one container to another. He also admitted that the task was "pretty basic" and that he had successfully completed the job previously, refuting the argument that further training was required. Spiratos v. County of Chenago, 815 N.Y.S. 2d 288 (A.D. 3rd Dept. 2006). [N/R]
Sheriff and parish government were entitled, under Louisiana statute, to immunity from liability for alleged negligence of deputy in driving vehicle in which a prisoner was a passenger while being transported to work assignment as part of litter abatement program. The fact that the injured prisoner had been released from custody after the injury occurred did not alter the immunity under the statute, which was based on his status as a prisoner at the time of the accident. Ceasar v. Herbert, No. 05-1195, 926 So. 2d 139 (La. App. 2006). [N/R]
The waiver of sovereign immunity by Pennsylvania under state law for dangerous conditions on governmental property did not apply to a Pennsylvania prisoner's lawsuit against the state in federal court asserting a state law negligence claim for injuries he allegedly suffered when his Achilles tendon was torn by a pipe protruding from his cell floor. The statute containing the waiver itself said that it did not waive the state's Eleventh Amendment immunity, preventing it from being sued for damages in federal court. Prisoner also failed to show that prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs following his injuries, as required for a federal civil rights claim. Brooks v. Beard, No. 05-3196, 167 Fed. Appx. 923 (3rd Cir. 2006). [N/R]
A Mississippi county's purchase of liability insurance did not constitute a waiver of the governmental immunity the county was entitled to under state law in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of an inmate who died when he fell off of the back of a county garbage truck after he volunteered to help with a garbage collection detail. Supreme Court of Mississippi upholds summary judgment for county. Powell v. Clay County Bard of Supervisors, No. 2005-CA-00018-SCT, 924 So. 2d 523 (Miss. 2006). [N/R]
North Carolina appeals court upholds rejection of state agency's motion to dismiss claims for liability for the death of four inmates and serious injuries to another in a fire at a county jail. State agency had a specific responsibility, under state law, with respect to fire safety inspections at local detention facilities, and the"public duty doctrine," the basis of the agency's motion to dismiss, had no applicability to claims that the agency's inspector was negligent and that the agency was also negligent in training the inspector. Multiple Claimants v. N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, No. COA04-808, 626 S.E.2d 666 (N.C. App. 2006). [N/R]
Inmate suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from dust and smoke accompanying his work as a welder failed to show that he had informed the supervisor of the prison unit overseeing prison jobs of the risk to him allegedly posed by his working conditions. Since the supervisor was not shown to have known of and disregarded the risk to him, he could not be held liable for injuries allegedly suffered by the prisoner. Additionally, the prisoner failed to file grievances concerning the work conditions and also refused to wear a dust mask he was given. Flanyak v. Hopta, No. 3:04-1634, 410 F. Supp. 2d 394 (M.D. Pa. 2006). [N/R]
Federal appeals court finds a triable issue of fact on whether a county had inadequate policies regarding the training of jail medical personnel as to how to respond to the fall of a medically unstable prisoner, a prisoner's refusal of needed medical treatment, or the need to conduct a prompt assessment on whether such a prisoner should be transferred to another facility with more medical resources. Civil rights claim against county reinstated in lawsuit over death of 71-year-old prisoner from cardiac arrest. Long v. County of Los Angeles, No. 04-55463, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 7552 (9th Cir.). [2006 JB May]
A federal prisoner's lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. Secs. 1346(b), 2671-80, alleging that he was injured as a result of a negligent failure to train him to use machinery safely during his prison employment was barred by the provisions of the Federal Prison Industries' Inmate Accident Compensation (IAC) system under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 4126. Cordoba v. Morrison, No. 04-3642, 155 Fed. Appx. 933 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
In lawsuit over prisoner's death from dehydration in his cell, where water was frequently turned off during a "heat alert," eleven prison employees were not entitled to qualified immunity, since there was evidence from which it could be found that they knew of his need for water and psychological treatment, but did little or nothing to assist him. Appeals court also finds that four other defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Clark-Murphy v. Foreback, No. 05-1323, 05-1394, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 2817 (6th Cir.) [2006 JB Apr]
State of New York had no duty to provide an inmate with instructions on the use of or warnings concerning the dangerous of using an angle grinder in his work assignment, and therefore was not liable for injuries he suffered when he set the grinder down on a workbench while it was still operating. Coming into contact with the spinning disk of the grinder was an "obvious danger" and the prisoner, who had worked in the construction industry for twenty years, was familiar with power tools and angle grinders in particular. Manganaro v. State of New York, 805 N.Y.S.2d 710 (A.D. 3rd Dept. 2005). [N/R]
Prison rules prohibiting inmates from calling drug testing lab technicians as witnesses at disciplinary hearings were not a violation of procedural due process. Federal appeals court upholds constitutionality of Nebraska prison's urine sample collection and testing procedures. Louis v. Dep't of Corr. Servs. of Nebraska, No. 05-1211, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 2648 (8th Cir.). [2006 JB Apr]
Mother of youth murdered while in the custody of a contractors for the District of Columbia Youth Services Administration, was awarded $997,161 in compensatory and punitive damages on civil rights and negligence claims. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant's failure to monitor the youth's medication and whereabouts, to connect him with court ordered mental health and substance abuse services, or to properly care for him caused his death. Court rules that plaintiff was also entitled to an award of $398,490.75 in attorneys' fees and $22,528.30 in costs. Court rejected argument that it was unreasonable to spend 96 hours preparing opposition to the defendant's motion for summary judgment, but did rule that a 25% reduction in requested hourly rates was justified when the same evidence was presented on both the civil rights and negligence claims and the requested attorneys' fee award would otherwise have amounted to almost 54% of the damage award. Muldrow v. Re-Direct, Inc., No. CIV. A. 01-2537, 397 F. Supp. 2d 1 (D.D.C. 2005). [N/R]
Correctional officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on claim that they continued to use force against detainee after they had subdued him, resulting in his death from positional asphyxia. They were also not entitled to qualified immunity on the claim that they waited fourteen minutes after he became unconscious and stopped breathing, to summon medical assistance. Bozeman v. Orum, No. 04-11073, 422 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir. 2005). [2006 JB Feb]
Genuine issues existed as to whether warden was deliberately indifferent to alleged widespread abuse of prisoners by officers, making him liable for a prisoner's death after an alleged beating of officers. Warden was not entitled to qualified immunity against supervisory liability claim by prisoner's estate. Valdes v. Crosby, No. 301CV799, 390 F. Supp. 2d 1084 (M.D. Fla. 2005). [N/R]
Prison job counselor who did not know of a substantial risk of harm to a prisoner who was shocked by a buffing machine during work assignment because the machine did not have a ground-prong in its plug could not be held liable for his injuries. While the prisoner's allegations stated a claim against the prison safety manager and electrical shop foreman for deliberate indifference, they were entitled to qualified immunity because it was not clearly established at the time of the incident that failure to repair or remove the machine because of a missing ground-prong would violate the Eighth Amendment. Littlejohn v. Moody, No. 2:04CV330, 381 F. Supp. 2d 507 (E.D. Va. 2005). [N/R]
Correctional officer was not shown to have acted with deliberate indifference when he allegedly backed a van in which a prisoner was being transported into another vehicle, injuring him. The officer had to act quickly to react to unforeseen traffic circumstance and decide how best to move the van away from oncoming traffic. Alexander v. Perrenoud, No. 04-3846, 134 Fed. Appx. 938 (7th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
New York Court of Claims upholds award of $350,000 for conscious pain and suffering to estate of deceased inmate who died of a prescription drug overdose in case where prison officials were found to have been negligent in allowing him to have more than one pill at a time in his cell. Prisoner's death after overdose took thirteen days to occur, and he underwent numerous invasive medical procedures during that interval. Court also upholds, however, the failure to award any economic damages, when the decedent had a "limited work history," and had never earned enough money in any year to require him to file a tax return. $25,000 also awarded to inmate's mother for her suffering based on correctional officials' failure to notify her, as the inmate's chosen relative, when her son was admitted to a hospital outside of the prison during a weekend, as required by the correctional department's policy. Arias v. State of New York, No. 97942, 795 N.Y.S.2d 855 (Ct. Cl. 2005). [N/R]
No federal law provides for a privilege of confidentiality of a "peer review" of the medical facts concerning the death of a prisoner, so that a trial court properly compelled the production of the mortality review conducted by correctional health officials in a lawsuit over the death. Agster v. Maricopa County, No. 04-15466, 406 F.3d 1091 (9th Cir. 2005) [2005 JB Aug]
Federal appeals court upholds $72,000 award against District of Columbia in lawsuit over murder of juvenile delinquent in juvenile detention "independent living" apartment by unknown assassin with a silencer-equipped gun. Evidence showed that the District adopted no standards whatsoever for selection of a private contractor to run the program, and had no standards for monitoring the program's performance. Security at the apartments was allegedly inadequate and no additional security measures were allegedly taken after another youth living there was mugged and robbed by an armed assailant in his apartment. Smith v. District of Columbia, No. 03-7143, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 13288 (D.C. Cir.). [2005 JB Aug]
Connecticut prisoner could not pursue a civil rights lawsuit against a correctional official in the absence of any evidence that he had any personal or direct involvement in the purported violation of the prisoner's rights which resulted in him suffering injuries in a fall from a "make-shift" ladder following which his thigh was impaled on an exposed water valve. Prisoner would be allowed, however, to amend his complaint to attempt to state a claim against a supervisor who allegedly had knowledge of the lack of proper equipment to perform the required task. Moriarty v. Brooks, 111 Fed. Appx. 30 (2nd Cir. 2004). [N/R]
A non-attorney administrator of the estate of a inmate who died from cancer while incarcerated could not pursue a pro se wrongful death and federal civil rights claim against correctional medical personnel when his action constituted the unauthorized practice of law under Arkansas statutes. The court noted that the administrator was not the only beneficiary or creditor of the estate, and his pursuit of the claim therefore constituted the practice of law in the course of representing the interest of others. Jones v. Corr. Med. Serv., No. 04-1985, 401 F.3d 950 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Amendments to Louisiana state statutes, creating administrative remedies which prisoners must exhaust prior to pursuing lawsuits against prison officials did not apply retroactively to lawsuits pending at the time they were enacted. Prisoner could, therefore, continue to pursue his negligence claim for damages against prison officials for injuries suffered from falling off of a trailer-mounted water tank during a prison work assignment. Dailey v. Travis, No. 2004-CC-0744, 892 So. 2d 17 (La. 2005). [N/R]
Federal appeals court orders additional proceedings on whether family members of deceased inmate suffered severe emotional distress, under Oklahoma law, following his death, in a case where family members were awarded $1.1 million in damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act based on alleged outrageous conduct in failing to disclose the battered condition of his body before shipping it to them for burial. Trentadue v. Lee, No. 01-6444, 397 F.3d 840 (10th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Apr]
Correctional officer was unaware of a prisoner's alleged medical condition creating a "substantial risk" of harm if he were assigned to a top bunk, and therefore could not be held liable for the prisoner's subsequent injury on the basis of "deliberate indifference." Pennington v. Taylor, No. 2:02-CV-604, 343 F. Supp. 2d 508 (E.D. Va. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's failure to claim personal involvement of the sheriff in connection with his slip and fall on wet floor outside shower area in county correctional facility barred a federal civil rights claim against him. Sheriff was not involved in the incident itself and the prisoner failed to allege any conduct in the sheriff's supervisory role which would have imposed liability. Davis v. Reilly, No. 03-CV-3954, 324 F. Supp. 2d 361 (E.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court reverses $1.1 million in emotional distress damages against U.S. government by family of prisoner who died in federal detention center, based on trial court's failure to make explicit findings concerning the severity of the family's emotional distress. Trentadue v. U.S., No. 01-6444, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 22156(10th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Dec] Jail personnel were not deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of injury or death for pretrial detainee subsequently found dead in her cell either from self-hanging or from strangulation by another person. There were no prior signs that the detainee, arrested for allegedly operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs, was suicidal and there was no information from which they would have known that she was at risk of harm by someone else, and no evidence that the jailers themselves murdered her. Stiltner v. Crouse, No. 1:03 CV 00078, 327 F. Supp. 2d 667 (W.D.Va. 2004). [N/R]
Failure to warn prisoner about alleged defect on prison softball field which allegedly resulted in injury to his eye from bouncing ball did not constitute the "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" required to assert an Eighth Amendment claim. Christopher v. Buss, No. 02-4044, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 20497 (7th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Nov]
Failure to provide prisoner with a seatbelt while transporting him, while handcuffed, in bus, did not violate his constitutional rights. Additionally, claims that he was injured through negligent or reckless operation of the bus by the driver could not be pursued as federal civil rights claims. Prisoner could proceed, however, on his claims that prison medical personnel were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs caused by his injuries in the accident. Carrasquillo v. City of New York, 324 F. Supp. 2d 428 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner who was injured while doing electrical work as part of prison work assignment was entitled to reversal of summary judgment for defendants in his Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against supervisors. There was sufficient evidence to raise a factual issue as to whether the defendants knew of the risks the prisoner would face from the work he was being assigned to do. Hall v. Bennett, No. 02-2683, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 16609 (7th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Oct]
Evidence sufficiently established that prisoner's injury in a slip and fall while exiting a prison shower was not caused by any negligence on the part of prison officials. Wigfall v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, No. 01-02-01264-CV, 137 S.W.3d 268 (Tex. App. 1st Dist. 2004). [N/R]
Ohio prisoner failed to prove that failure to grant his request for a bottom bunk assignment was the cause of the injuries he suffered when he fell and struck his head while attempting to climb into his top bunch, and therefore was not entitled to damages. Medical personnel at the facility had no indication that the prisoner had a need for a bottom bunk assignment because of a prior foot injury. Bell v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correct., No. 2002-06391-AD, 810 N.E.2d 467 (Ohio Ct. Cl. 2004). [N/R]
State of Texas was entitled to sovereign immunity against prisoner's claim for personal injury resulting from contact with a razor-wire fence surrounding a prison recreation yard. The presence of the razor wire there did not constitute either an "ordinary premises defect," or a "special defect" enumerated as an exception to sovereign immunity in the state's Tort Claims Act, V.T.C.A., Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Sec. 101.022. Retzlaff v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice, No. 01-02-00437-CV, 135 S.W.3d 731 (Tex. App. 1st Dist. 2003), rehearing denied March 4, 2004. [N/R]
In a lawsuit by a New York prisoner seeking damages for injuries he suffered while operating router equipment in a prison work assignment, the court ruled that the "drastic remedy" of striking the State's answer to the prisoner's complaint was not justified by the State's failure to produce, in discovery, its accident report and the maintenance records for the router, but found that this was sufficient to support an inference that, if these records had been produced, they would have been unfavorable to the State. Gentle v. State of New York, No. 96927, 778 N.Y.S.2d 660 (Ct. Cl. 2004). [N/R]
Alleged failure of city to alleviate overcrowding in jail, resulting in unsanitary conditions, could possibly be a basis for liability for prisoner's death from bacterial meningitis. Doctor's failure to treat prisoner for this condition, however, did not show deliberate indifference, when he testing the prisoner for meningitis and concluded that he did not have that condition. Brown v. Mitchell, 308 F. Supp. 2d 682 (E.D. Va. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's claim that he was subjected to "standing water" in a prison shower area resulting in a fall was insufficient to establish a claim for cruel and unusual conditions of confinement posing a substantial risk of serious harm to his health or safety. Despite the fact that prisoner was on crutches, the danger of falling on a slippery floor was no greater than the daily hazards faced by the general public. Reynolds v. Powell, #03-4156, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 10838 (10th Cir.).[2004 JB Jul]
Prisoner who claimed that he slipped and fell on a wet floor in a Pennsylvania state prison, injuring himself, could not collect damages. State correctional department was entitled to summary judgment because a wet or waxed floor was not a "dangerous condition" sufficient to come within an exception to sovereign immunity under state law for defects in real property. Raker v. Pa. Dept. of Corrections, 844 A.2d 659 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2004). [N/R]
Federal prison officials were not liable for the death of a prisoner beaten to death by two fellow inmates with a fire extinguisher. Their decisions regarding where to house the prisoner and how to protect his safety fell within the "discretionary function" exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act, as those decisions were discretionary and "grounded in policy," since there was no mandatory course of conduct for officials to follow. Montez v. U.S., No. 02-6303, 359 F.3d 392 (6th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Jun]
Federal appeals court reinstates prisoner's claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act for negligently caused injuries resulting from him falling from his top bunk after he was given a medical pass entitling him to a bottom bunk. Bultema v. U.S., No. 02-3490, 359 F.3d 379 (6th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB May]
Prisoner stated a claim for deliberate indifference to his safety, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, by alleging that correctional officers transporting him refused to fasten his seatbelt while he was unable to do so because of shackles. Prisoner could pursue claims both for injuries in subsequent vehicle accident and for alleged inadequate medical care following accident. Brown v. Missouri Department of Corrections, #03-2193, 353 F.3d 1038 (8th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Apr]
Privately owned and run correctional facility and its corrections officer acted "under color of state law" for purposes of a federal civil rights claim. Federal appeals court reinstates lawsuit by prisoner claiming that officer subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment by slamming a door on his fingers, severing two fingertips. Rosborough v. Management & Training Corporation, #03-40493, 2003 U.S. App. Lexis 22864 (5th Cir.). [2004 JB Jan]
County correctional officers were grossly negligent in the manner of monitoring a detainee suffering from alcohol withdrawal and were not informed of the serious nature of his condition by jail physician, making county liable for $80,000 for detainee's death. Jinks v. Richland County, No. 25690, 585 S.E.2d 281 (S.C. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
A reasonable jury could only conclude that the plaintiff prisoner's throat or lung cancers were caused by his cigarette smoking, when the offered opinion of his expert witness that they were caused by exposure to thoriated tungsten welding rods during his prison work assignment as a welder was not reliable or relevant. Expert's testimony was excluded and summary judgment granted for defendant prison officials. Burleson v. Glass, 268 F. Supp. 2d 699 (W.D. Tex. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner injured from a slip and fall on a wet floor in county jail failed to show that correctional officers actually knew that there was water on the floor, or that the water had remained there for any substantial period of time, as required for him to recover damages for his resulting injuries. Heliodore v. State of New York, 759 N.Y.S.2d 554 (A.D. 3d Dept. 2003). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rules that correctional officers' use of force in restraining detainee, which resulted in his death from a compression injury to his neck, was not excessive. The detainee was an "exceptionally large and strong" man and evidence showed that he became violent in his cell and after he was let out of his cell. Further, there was no evidence that the officers intentionally attempted to choke the prisoner. Walters v. County of Charleston, No. 02-1297, 63 Fed. Appx. 116 (4th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Prisoner who claimed he was injured while opening a freezer door failed to provide county with notice of his claim within 6 months of the accident as required by the Texas Tort Claims Act, V.T.C.A. Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sec. 101.101(a, c). His claim against the county was therefore properly dismissed. Crane County v. Saults, No. 08-02-00207-CV, 101 S.W.3d 764 (Tex. App. -- El Paso 2003). [N/R]
Kansas prisoner could pursue claim against state for personal injuries he suffered while operating a road grader at a correctional institution and was not required under state law to exhaust his administrative remedies before filing suit, under applicable state regulation. K.A.R. 44-16-104. Bates v. State of Kansas, No. 88,757, 67 P.2d 168 (Kan. App. 2003). [N/R]
Federal appeals court rules that prisoner satisfied the "exhaustion of available administrative remedies" requirement sufficiently by alleging that he was unable to timely file an initial grievance because of his broken hand. Appeals court vacates dismissal of prisoner's civil rights lawsuit for damages, based on his broken hand from slip and fall in prison dining area. Days v. Johnson, #02-10064, 322 F.3d. 863 (5th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
Prisoners' claims that they had been injured by exposure to lead and asbestos while on a prison work detail involved a "continuing" harm, and the prisoners adequately complied with a state law notice of claim requirement when they provided notice within six months of the date that they discovered their exposure to the hazard, even if it first took place years earlier. City of Forsyth v. Bell, No. A02A2069, 574 S.E.2d 331 (Ga. App. 2002). [N/R]
Prisoner who claimed that a correction officer kicked the bottom of his chair, causing him to fall and be injured did not succeed in showing negligence required to establish liability, especially since prisoner was leaning back in the chair with the front legs 16-18 inches off the ground before he fell. Sturgill v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, #2001-08595, 782 N.E.2d 169 (Ohio Ct. Claims 2002). [N/R]
Utah inmate's slip and fall on a soapy shower floor in county jail, resulting in injuries, did not demonstrate the kind of excessive risk or substantial deprivation of the minimum civilized measure of life's necessities so as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Flandro v. Salt Lake County Jail, #01-4168, 53 Fed. Appx. 499 (10th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
County was not liable for prisoner's death on the basis of alleged negligence in forcing the decedent to sleep near an inmate who was infected with tuberculosis, which was alleged to have caused his fatal pulmonary problems. County was entitled to immunity under Texas Torts Claim Act, V.T.C.A. Civil Practice & Remedies Code Sec. 101.001 et seq. Dismissal of claims against the county, however, did not bar deceased prisoner's wife from proceeding with her claim against a jail employee individually. Sykes v. Harris County, #01-00-01162-CV, 89 S.W.3d 661 (Tex. App. -- Houston [1st Dist] 2002). [N/R]
Washington state statutes which barred the payment of permanent partial disability benefits for workplace injuries to prisoners who had no family beneficiaries and were "unlikely" to be released from prison found to violate their due process and equal protection rights by state supreme court. Willougby v. Dept. of Labor and Industries of the State of Washington, No. 71950-1, 57 P.3d 611 (Wash. 2002). [2003 JB Feb.]
A city jail was a "public building" for purposes of a public building exception to governmental immunity under Michigan state law, but an individual detained in the jail was an "inmate" of the jail and therefore not entitled to recover under that exception to the city's statutory immunity from liability. See M.C.L.A. Sec. 691.1406. Additionally, the prisoner's claims that the city jail was "not clean," did not have a place to sit (resulting in her back hurting), and that a telephone was not readily available were not the kind of "structural conditions" required to claim liability under the public building exception. Bobbitt v. The Detroit Edison Company, 216 F. Supp. 2d 669 (E.D. Mich. 2002).[N/R]
New York State could not be held liable for a prisoner's injuries while using an allegedly defective exercise machine at a correctional facility in the absence of any proof that there was actual or constructive knowledge of the defect which would have provided an opportunity to repair it. Valentine v. State of New York, Claim No. 98679, 747 N.Y.S.2d 282 (N.Y. Ct. Cl. 2002). [2003 JB Jan]
Federal trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over prisoner's state law negligence claim against Illinois state prison officials seeking to recover for his injuries from being shocked by allegedly exposed electrical wires in showers. Defendants were entitled to sovereign immunity under Eleventh Amendment which state had asserted by barring such claims except in the Illinois Court of Claims. Federal civil rights claim also failed, as prisoner failed to show that defendants knew about the wires but were deliberately indifferent to their exposed presence. Turner v. Miller, #01-3413, 301 F.3d 599 (7th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Mississippi prisoner could not recover damages from county under state law for her injuries from falling from top bunk bed in county jail. County was immune, under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA), A.M.C. Sec. 11-46-9(1)(c, m), from all claims by inmate. Exception in statute for "reckless disregard" in relation to police protection of a person not engaged in criminal activity at the time of the injury did not apply to prisoner's claim that the jailer's conduct of not placing her in the "drunk tank" was "reckless disregard" for her safety and well being. Liggans v. Coahoma County Sheriff's Department, No. 2001-CA-00860-SCT, 823 So. 2d 1152 (Miss. 2002). [N/R]
Indiana federal court jury awards $56.5 million to family of DUI arrestee who died in jail "drunk tank" following alleged assault by deputy, including choking and use of pepper spray. Moreland v. Dieter, No. 3:99CV0607, U.S. District Court (N.D. Ind. May 9, 2002), reported in The National Law Journal p. B1, May 20, 2002. [2002 JB Jul] While there was insufficient evidence to hold county liable for alleged beating death of detainee at the hands of prison guards, individual officers were not entitled to qualified immunity from liability. A claim that "low-level" county officials falsified reports after prisoner's death did not show a "well-settled" county custom of excessive force, but there was a genuine issue of whether guards participating in beating acted maliciously and sadistically. Gailor v. Armstrong, 187 F. Supp. 2d 729 (W.D. Ken. 2001). [2002 JB Jun]
Prisoner who claimed he was injured while working at penitentiary laundry was entitled to a new hearing on his workers' compensation claim because the hearing examiner's findings in denying claim were contradicted by the "vast weight" of the evidence presented. Sweets v. Workers' Safety & Compensation Division, #01-75, 42 P.3d 461 (Wyo. 2002). [N/R]
Jail officials were not liable for pretrial detainee's death from ingestion of cocaine when he denied that he had done so and refused medical attention. Arresting officers and intake personnel at the jail all offered to get him medical assistance if he required it and all asked him whether he had swallowed drugs. Watkins v. City of Battle Creek, No. 00-1502, 273 F.3d 682 (6th Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Mar]
Officer's claimed negligence in closing a door on an inmate at county jail could not be the basis of a federal civil rights lawsuit. Breakiron v. Neal, No. 3:00-CV-2155-H, 166 F. Supp. 2d 1110 (N.D. Tex. 2001). [N/R]
Federal prisoner awarded $900 in damages for injuries suffered in vehicle accident while being transported to a new facility. Chong-Won Tai v. U.S., 155 F. Supp. 2d 856 (N.D. Ill. 2001). [2002 JB Jan]
299:171 New York high court rules that state statute did not preclude a county from seeking a jury instruction that damages be apportioned between itself and the actual assailant in a lawsuit brought by a prisoner against the county for alleged negligence in failing to prevent another prisoner's attack on him. Rangolan v. County of Nassau, 96 N.Y.2d 42, 725 N.Y.S.2d 611, 749 N.E.2d 178 (2001).
299:170 Prisoner could recover damages for negligent supervision by correctional officer during touch football game during which he was allegedly assaulted by another prisoner. Schindler v. State of New York, Claim No. 96692 (N.Y. Ct. of Claims, Rochester, N.Y.), reported in The National Law Journal, p. B4 (Aug. 13, 2001).
299:169 Prisoner who was allegedly exposed to raw sewage in the course of her work assignment failed to show that correctional officials acted with deliberate indifference; even if she was correct that protective clothing issued was inadequate, nothing showed that defendants knew that before she complained. Shannon v. Graves, No. 00- 3029, 257 F.3d 1164 (10th Cir. 2001).
298:148 State of New York was not liable for prisoner's injury in prison yard from stray bullet fired by teenagers in nearby woods where hunting took place. Melendez v. State of New York, 725 N.Y.S.2d 113 (A.D. 2001).
297:134 Specific statute giving a prisoner in Missouri only one year to sue the corrections department for any injuries barred suit for injuries inmate suffered when van she was being transported in overturned; more general five- year statute which would have applied if injured party was not a prisoner had no bearing on the case. Kinder v. Missouri Dept. of Corrections, #WD 58592, 43 S.W.3d 369 (Mo. App. 2001).
297:134 Correctional officers were not liable for prisoner's death from heat exhaustion while working outdoors; his collapse in 72-degree weather, without prior complaints or symptoms, was simply not foreseeable. Mays v. Rhodes, #00-1822, 255 F.3d 644 (8th Cir. 2001).
295:105 Kentucky county had sovereign immunity against negligence claim by inmate injured while performing work assignment for county road department; statute providing a mechanism for negligence claims against the state did not apply to counties in the state. Board of Claims of Kentucky v. Banks, No. 1999-CA-001001-MR, 31 S.W.3d 436 (Ky. App. 2000).
295:105 Correctional officers were entitled to summary judgment on prisoner's claim that they "covered up" an accident in which he was struck by a van driven by a correctional employee, when prisoner failed to present any evidence to oppose evidence they submitted; claims against them in an official capacity were claims against the state, barred by absolute immunity under the Alabama state constitution. Evans v. Cotton, #2981428, 770 So. 2d 620 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
279:41 Jury awards $2 million to prisoner blinded while operating trash compactor during prison work assignment; suit claimed a delay in medical treatment contributed to blindness. Williams v. Patel, No. 96-1369, U.S. Dist. Ct (C.D. Ill.), reported in The National Law Journal, p. A12 (Feb. 21, 2000). Subsequent decision denying new trial at: 104 F. Supp. 2d 984 (C.D. Ill. 2000).
285:134 Owners and operators of gas pipeline near Texas correctional facility could not be sued for alleged Eighth Amendment violation based on leak which subjected 1,000 prisoners and correctional employees to exposure to gas when they were unable to be evacuated; defendants were not acting under color of law and did not act with deliberate indifference to plaintiffs' constitutional rights. Abarca v. Chevron, U.S.A., Inc., 75 F. Supp. 2d 566 (E.D. Tex. 1999).
[N/R] Correctional officials were not liable for inmate injury which occurred during prison work assignment even if they were negligent in improperly storing a table top which fell on inmate's head; officials were entitled to statutory immunity from suit under Tennessee state law. Luther v. Compton, 5 S.W.2d 635 (Tenn. 1999).
280:55 Prisoner who suffered from varicose veins awarded $12,500 for increased pain and suffering based on prison conditions that allegedly caused the deterioration of his condition. Mihileas v. State of New York, 697 N.Y.S.2d 891 (A.D. 1999).
281:74 Jail employees and officials were not liable for mentally ill detainee's death from asphyxiation which was either suicide or an accidental death caused by his illness; while jail personnel may have been negligent in how they treated this detainee, their conduct did not rise to the level of "deliberate indifference" required for federal civil rights liability. Thornton v. City of Montgomery, 78 F. Supp. 2d 1218 (M.D. Ala. 1999).
282:85 Correctional officials with no personal involvement in prisoner's alleged exposure to dangerous chemicals in prison metal shop could not be held liable for future harm to him, when there was no claim they failed to remedy it after learning of it, or created a policy that allowed it to happen or continue; prisoner could pursue claim against other correctional employees based on alleged failure to provide him with safety equipment. Crawford v. Coughlin, 43 F. Supp. 2d 319 (W.D.N.Y. 1999).
284:118 Prisoner failed to show that his injuries were the result of sodomy and assault by other inmates rather than a seizure as the state contended. Zi Guang v. State of New York, 695 N.Y.S.2d 142 (A.D. 1999).
277:6 Sheriff and deputies were not liable for arrestee's bizarre action of blinding himself by plucking out his eyes; while prisoner's behavior was "increasingly erratic," there was nothing which informed the defendants that he had an intent to harm himself; defendants attempted to care for prisoner and did not act with deliberate indifference. Sibley v. LeMaire, #98-30301, 184 F.3d 481 (5th Cir. 1999).
277:8 Prisoner who slipped and fell down stairs while being escorted to a gymnasium in full restraints did not state claim for cruel and unusual punishment. Pendergrass v. Hodge, 53 F. Supp. 2d 838 (E.D. Va. 1999).
271:106 Jail superintendent was not liable for pre- trial detainee's slip and fall in jail shower; claim that superintendent ignored complaint of standing water in shower at most stated negligence, not federal civil rights liability; evidence was sufficient, however, for jury to be able to determine that other personnel may have been deliberately indifferent. Davis v. Dorsey, #97-3636, 167 F.3d 411 (8th Cir. 1999).
269;78 Town and its employee acted as agents of the state of Alabama while transporting inmate to his work release job and was therefore entitled to sovereign immunity from liability for injuries prisoner suffered when he fell off of back of truck; employee, however, was not entitled to immunity individually for driving truck to avoid potholes. Loxley, Town of v. Coleman, 720 So. 2d 907 (Ala. 1998).
272:126 Oklahoma prisons were entitled to sovereign immunity under state law for injuries which inmate suffered while operating saw in prison furniture factory. Gaines v. State Ex Rel., Dept. of Corr., 973 P.2d 905 (Okla Civ. App. 1998).
258:89 Prisoner severely injured in fall down concrete stairs awarded $2.36 million in damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys' fees against department of corrections in lawsuit claiming that stair landing was in violation of state building code. Johnson v. State, Alaska, 3d Jud. Dist. Super. Ct., No. 3AN-96-173, Civil, Oct. 24, 1997, reported in 41 ATLA L. Rep. 95 (April 1998).
[N/R] Inmate stated claim for negligence based on correctional officer's rear-ending of another motorist's vehicle while transporting inmate to work site; prison superintendent was not vicariously liable for officer's alleged negligence. Davis- Bey v. Missouri Dept. of Correction, 944 S.W.2d 294 (Mo. App. 1997).
249:139 Mere alleged negligence resulting in water on floor of bathroom was insufficient basis for prisoner's federal civil rights lawsuit for his slip-and-fall; trial judge properly dismissed suit as frivolous. Walker v. Reed, 104 F.3d 156 (8th Cir. 1997).
242:25 Louisiana detainee who gouged out his own eyes while in jail awarded $1.05 million by jury on claim that law enforcement officials failed to adequately protect him against the risk of self-mutilation following his earlier "crazy and bizarre" behavior. Sibley v. Lemaire, 90-2573 (U.S. Dist. Ct., W.D. La.) (Sept. 26, 1996), reported in The National Law Journal, p. A11 (Oct. 28, 1996).
243:37 Prison officials could have reasonably believed that it did not violate the Eighth Amendment to fail to repair a defective oven door; defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity in suit brought by prisoner burned when door fell off. Osolinski v. Kane, 92 F.3d 934 (9th Cir. 1996).
243:42 Inmate's own recklessness, not any breach of duty by State employees, caused his injuries from touching live electrical wire while making assigned electrical repairs; his prior training and experience as an electrician showed that he was aware of the danger involved. Martinez v. State of N.Y., 639 N.Y.S.2d 145 (A.D. 1996).
244:56 Michigan correctional officials were not liable for injuries to inmate who set a fire in his cell; failure to have individual in-cell smoke detectors did not suffice to invoke an exception to governmental immunity for dangerous building conditions. Carlton v. Dept. of Corrections, 546 N.W.2d 671 (Mich. App. 1996). 244:62 Sheriff was not liable for injuries prisoner suffered in hobby shop while operating table saw without safety guard; prisoner's injuries were negligently self-inflicted and there was no duty to provide him with training in a field he was voluntarily pursuing. Mosley v. Law Enforcement Dist. of Avoyelles Parish, 670 So.2d 745 (La. App. 1996).
245:74 Pennsylvania prisoner could not recover from prison officials for injuries caused by his slip and fall on ice on sidewalk at prison; no recovery under state law for injuries caused by "natural accumulation of ice," since it did not constitute a defective "artificial condition" in the land. Hill v. Dragovich, 679 A.2d 1382 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996).
248:122 Alabama county had no duty to keep bathroom floor in jail free of water or foreign substances, and therefore was not liable for prisoner's slip and fall there; county's responsibility for jail was limited to funding it and providing facilities to house it, and sheriff was responsible for its operation and cleaning. Stark v. Madison Co., 678 So.2d 787 (Ala. Civ. App. 1996).
249:140 Federal prison employee's alleged action of pulling chair out from under prisoner, causing him to fall and suffer minor injuries, was not sufficient to state a claim for violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. Barber v. Grow, 929 F.Supp. 820 (E.D. Pa. 1996).
251:166 Correctional officials entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuit brought by prison librarian based on inmate's kidnapping and sexually assaulting her when no officer was present in the library. Liebson v. New Mexico Corrections Dept., 73 F.3d 274 (10th Cir. 1996).
251:174 State of Oklahoma was immune from liability for injuries prisoner suffered while fighting fire during participation in work release program. Horton v. State of Oklahoma, 915 P.2d 352 (Okl. 1996).
221:73 City, incarceration center, and center supervisor liable for a total of $1.02 million for drowning death of detainee while swimming in city reservoir during detainee group trip there; suit claimed failure to provide lifeguard or post "No Swimming" sign was negligent. Salaman v. City of Waterbury, Conn., Waterbury Super. Ct., No. CV 92 113165S, Oct. 21, 1994, 38 ATLA L. Rep. 20 (Feb. 1995).
227:171 City liable for $1.2 million to prisoner injured when ceiling of holding cell fell on him, and further injured when he fell from wheelchair supplied to him. Smith v. New York, No. 13223/91 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Kings Co., N.Y.), June 21, 1995, reported in The National Law Journal, p.5, Aug. 21, 1995.
224:122 Inmate attacked by boar hog while working at prison hog farm could not recover damages against warden or farm supervisor for constitutional violations in absence of a showing of deliberate indifference to alleged unsafe working conditions. Lee v. Sikes, 870 F.Supp. 1096 (S.D. Ga. 1994).
218:27 Co. was not liable for injuries prisoner suffered when falling while trying to climb into top bunk in his cell; county had no duty to provide prisoner, who had pre-existing back condition, with a bottom bunk. Weatherholt v. Spencer Co., 639 N.E.2d 354 (Ind. App. 1994). 219:40 Prison was not liable for injuries prisoner suffered when he slipped and fell on floor being mopped by other inmates; prisoner was aware floor was being cleaned and knowingly went on wet surface to retrieve ping-pong ball. Perry v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction, 65 Ohio Misc. 2d 27, 640 N.E.2d 912 (Ohio Ct. Cl. 1994).
221:72 Prisoner injured while playing basketball in jail recreation yard because of hole in yard could not sue jail officials for violation of civil rights based on mere negligence in jail yard maintenance. Burrell v. Griffith, 158 F.R.D. 104 (E.D. Tex. 1994).
Ohio prison not liable for injuries to prisoner caused by falling glass from skylight which shattered when another prisoner working on the roof slipped and fell. Moore v. Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation & Correction, 89 Ohio App. 3d 107, 623 N.E.2d 1214 (1993).
Alabama Supreme court rules that sheriff was immune from suit over prisoner getting electric shock in jail while attempting to rescue cellmate being electrocuted while standing on metal toilet while changing a lightbulb; county, however, was not immune and had a statutory duty to keep county jail in "a state of repair." King v. Colbert Co., 620 So.2d 623 (Ala. 1993).
Prisoner who lost a hand when machine he was cleaning unexpectedly started awarded $2.66 million against state of New York for negligence; prisoner's wife awarded $35,000 for loss of consortium. Brown v. State of N.Y., Syracuse Co. Ct. Cl., No. 73718, Dec. 13, 1991, reported in 35 ATLA L. Rep. 262 (Sept. 1992).
Prisoner's slip and fall on grease on prison floor could not be the basis, under Michigan law, for a suit against the Department of Corrections; a temporary condition which caused an accident did not fit into the "public building" exception to government immunity. Wade v. Dept. of Corrections, 439 Mich. 158, 483 N.W.2d 26 (1992).
Jail officials not liable for prisoner's death from choking on a bar of soap she tried to swallow. Hardin v. Hayes, 957 F.2d 845 (11th Cir. 1992).
Co. liable for $24,780 to woman prisoner whose request for footwear was denied and who subsequently slipped and fell on wet floor in cell bathroom while getting off of toilet. Moralli v. Lake Co., 839 P.2d 1287 (Mont. 1992).
New York court awards $1.3 million to inmates injured or killed in Attica riot. Al-Jundi v. Estate of Rockefeller, 885 F.2d 1060 (2nd Cir. 1989).
Prisoner's covenant not to sue, signed after his injury in jail fire he was accused of starting, was enforceable; $200,000 award reversed. Berry v. Peterson, 887 F.2d 635 (5th Cir. 1989).
Award of $1,800 for pain and suffering, and future impairment, to prisoner injured while trying out for baseball team, was inadequate. Hill v. Com., Bureau of Corrections, 555 A 2d 1362 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1989).
Trial court's finding that state was not liable for inmate's injury when he fell on debris in corridor was not supported by the evidence. Emmi v. State, 533 N.Y.S.2d 406 (A.D. 1988). Inmate's mother could sue federal government for inmate's death from application of elastic bandage and duct tape over most of his face. Harris v. United States, 677 F.Supp. 403 (W.D.N.C. 1988).
State department of correction immune from prisoner's lawsuit for severed finger. Gallagher v. Bureau of Correction, 545 A.2d 981 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1988).
Prison negligent in failing to provide seat belt on tractor from which prisoner fell, but prisoner also partly at fault. State Dept. of Corrections v. Romero, 524 So.2d 1032 (Fla. App. 1988).
Sheriff liable for inmate's injury by tractor driven by another inmate. Duhon v. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, 517 So.2d 1016 (La. App. 1987).
Prison was negligent in failing to provide safety device on saw that amputated inmate's fingers, but inmate could not recover because of his own negligence. Perro v. State, 517 So.2d 258 (La. App. 1987).
Correctional department liable for inmate employee's negligently injuring fellow inmate during job performance. Baker v. North Carolina Dept. of Correction, 354 S.E.2d 733 (N.C. App. 1987).
No liability for unsafe cell when inmate was negligent and injured himself by climbing; testimony calling for constant supervision of intoxicated arrestees rejected. Hille v. Wright Co., 400 N.W.2d 744 (Minn. App. 1987).
U.S. Supreme Court rules injured inmates have no constitutional right to sue. Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, S.Ct. 662 and Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344, 106 S.Ct. 668 (1986).
One year statute of limitation period applies to cell injury. Kingston v. Braun, 504 N.Y.S.2d 916 (A.D. Dept. 1986).
Over $650,000 awarded for woman's cell death; former police chief accused of running the jail "from a tavern." Information was obtained from the San Francisco Chronicle. 10/4/86.
Medical benefits to be included under worker's compensation to former inmate. Davis v. S.C. Dept. of Corrections, 345 S.E.2d 245 (S.C. 1986).
Family must allege officials intended to interfere with familial association rights regarding son's jail death. Trujillo v. Board of Co. Commissioners of the Co. of Santa Fe, No. 83-2320, 768 F.2d 1186 (10th Cir. 1985).
Bus fire incident not a constitutional violation; state claims to proceed. Duckworth v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645 (7th Cir. 1985).
Officials not responsible for inmate's death from heat stroke. Willis v. Barksdale, 625 F.Supp. 411 (W.D. Tenn. 1985).
No liability for injuries during riot. Chambers v. Koehler, 635 F.Supp. 884 (W.D. Mich. 1984).
Damages for work-related injuries limited due to evidence discrepancies. Georgiadis v. State, 483 N.Y.S.2d 753 (A.D. 3 Dept. 1984).
Superintendent not liable for injury to inmate in cell where commode broke. Inmate has no right to appointed counsel to file his lawsuit. Emory v. Duckworth, 555 F.Supp. 985 (N.D. Ind. 1983).
No liability to county regarding youth's drowning at correctional facility. May v. Co. of Monterey, 189 Cal.Rptr. 63 (App. 1983).
Prisoner's suit alleging injury from slipping on butter must be sought in state court. Mitchell v. State of W. Va., 554 F.Supp. 1215 (N.D. W. Va. 1983).
State liable when workplace shearing machine injures inmates. Bridgewater v. State, Through Dept. of Corr., 434 So.2d 383 (La. 1983).
No liability for facilities design which enabled inmate to secure poison and drink it. Hinds v. Mich. Dept. of Corr., 337 N.W.2d 1 (Mich. App. 1983).
No liability to sheriff for inmate's "slip and fall" after showering. Williams v. Foti, 433 So.2d 406 (La. App. 1983).
No Section 1983 liability for prisoner's injury caused by prison machinery. Thaxton v. Rose, 563 F.Supp. 1361 (M.D. Tenn. 1983).
State not liable to inmate who was injured by machete during work project on prison grounds. Gould v. State Through LA Dept. of Corrs., 435 So.2d 540 (La. App. 1983).
Ninth Circuit holds that three-day delay in treating injured inmate was not constitutionally violative. May v. Enomoto, 633 F.2d 164 (9th Cir. 1980).
Fifth Circuit holds that sole remedy for inmate's work- related injury is prison compensation law, not the federal tort claims act. Ashton v. United States, 625 F.2d 1210 (5th Cir. 1980).
Court dismisses action for negligence against prison officials by a man who fell in shower. Beshaw v. Fields, 484 F.Supp. 1391 (W.D. Wis. 1980).
Wisconsin judge dismisses suit for negligence by inmate in wheelchair who slipped and fell. Williams v. Wolke, 83 F.R.D. 435 (E.D. Wis. 1979).
Negligent disposal of bat which caused inmate to be treated for rabies is not grounds for suit. Ronnei v. Butler, 597 F.2d 564 (8th Cir. 1979).
Virginia Court rules inmate injured in slip and fall from leaky dishwasher not entitled to damages under Civil Rights Act. Snyder v. Blankenship, 473 F.Supp. 1208 (W.D. Va. 1979).
Slip and fall claim cannot be brought under Civil Rights Act. Tunstall v. Rowe, 478 F.Supp. 87 (N.D. Ill. 1979).
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