AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
Back to list of subjects Back to Legal Publications Menu
Monthly Law Journal Article: Civil Liability for Prisoner Suicide, 2007 (2) AELE Mo. L.J. 301. [Feb. 2007].
During his intake
at a facility, a pretrial detainee said that he had no prior suicide attempts,
no thoughts of killing or injuring himself, and no major medical problems.
A number of weeks later, after he reported suicidal thoughts, he was placed
on a 15-minute suicide watch, but subsequently denied that such thoughts
continued, while complaining about health issues and acting out in an attempt
to be housed outside lockdown. On a night that he was seen crying in his
cell, he attempted to hang himself in his cell. He suffered severe brain
damage and disability from the unsuccessful suicide attempt. The federal
appeals court reversed summary judgment as to two defendants, finding that
there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether they had been
deliberately indifferent to the detainee's risk of suicide when he allegedly
asked to see a crisis intervention person. If true, there was an obligation
to refer the detainee to the person charged, under prison procedures, with
making the definitive assessment of his psychological condition. Additionally,
the county might have vicarious liability for state law claims arising
out of the actions of these defendants. There was no support, however,
for the claim that a doctor and a nurse acted with deliberate indifference.
Pittman v. Cnty. of Madison, #12-3233, 2014 U.S. App. Lexis 4444 (7th Cir.).
A pre-trial detainee at a county jail was deemed a suicide risk after she said her "life was over." She was required to remove her clothing and don a suicide prevention suit. Two female deputies accompanied her to a cell to carry out the clothing change. They said she was noncompliant, so two male deputies were summoned to assist. She was ultimately pinned down on the floor and told that if she continued to resist the changing of her clothing, a Taser would be used. After a Taser was used in the stun mode for 5 seconds, she straightened her arms so her clothing could be removed. The excessive force claim was analyzed under a Fourteenth Amendment due process "shocks the conscience" standard. There were disputed facts mandating that the defendants not be granted summary judgment as, despite their testimony that she was flailing and actively resisting, a video of the incident did not appear to show that and did not contradict her statement that she was compliant and did not push anyone's hands away. At the time the Taser was used, she was largely blocked from view by one of the deputies while lying on the floor, so that it was impossible from the video to determine whether she actively resisted efforts to remove her clothing before the Taser was applied to her shoulder. "Viewing these facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, she was perhaps uncooperative but not dangerous or threatening, and a question of fact therefore remains as to whether the use of the Taser was excessive." Smith v. County of Isabella, #2:12-cv-11333, 2013 U.S. Dist. Lexis 122419 (E.D. Mich.).
An immigration detainee housed in a county jail under a contract with the federal government used her socks to strangle herself to death in her cell after eight days of incarceration. A federal appeals court found that there was evidence that could show that one employee of a private firm providing medical services at the jail had been aware of the detainee's depressed condition and suicidal thoughts, but failed to take any steps to prevent her from killing herself. The summary judgment on claims against the county, the sheriff, the jail's director, and two other employees of the medical firm was upheld. Belbachir v. McHenry Cnty., #13-1002, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 16665 (7th Cir.).
The claim that all floor officers were absent in the building near the prisoner's cell prior to his suicide due to a staff meeting that resulted in the absence of supervision for three hours presented a triable issue of fact as to whether certain defendant acted with deliberate indifference to inmate safety and created a substantial risk of serious harm. Two officers were improperly granted summary judgment because there were disputed issues of fact as to whether they failed to adequately respond to his suicide by administering CPR. Lemire v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, #11-15475, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis 16317 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner's mother and estate sued correctional personnel who were working at the county jail at the time he successfully committed suicide by using a bed sheet to hang himself, as well as various county entities. The lawsuit claimed that, despite knowledge of the prisoner's mental illness, the defendants failed to take appropriate precautions such as removing the bedding from his cell or making sure that he took his medications after a prior unsuccessful suicide attempt. The defendants filed an appeal challenging the denial of Alabama's state immunity under a section of a state statute concerning a state law wrongful death claim. The federal appeals court certified to the Alabama Supreme Court two unresolved questions of state law: 1. whether the immunity granted to sheriffs' jailers under the statute applied to conduct before the statute's effective date, but the lawsuit was filed after that date, and 2. whether the statute's requirement that jailers act "in accordance with the law" in order to receive immunity was intended to encompass only violations of the state criminal code or all violations of state law. Johnson v. Conner, #12-15228, 203 U.S. App. Lexis 13831 (11th Cir.).
A 16-year-old in an Illinois juvenile detention facility had a history of mental illness and three known prior in custody suicide attempts. The record of his latest intake assessment indicated that he suffered from major depression, psychosis, bipolar disorder, anger, behavior disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He had also previously gone through drug abuse counseling. He had a history of setting fires, cruelty to animals, threatening to kill teachers, alcohol and cannabis use, gang affiliation, and putting a gun to a cousin's head. Despite all this, the juvenile stated that he was not having depressive or manic symptoms and had not recently had suicidal thoughts. Prozac and lithium was prescribed for him and he was evaluated for suicide risk from time to time. Subsequently, he successfully hung himself in his cell. Even assuming that the plaintiff had shown that the defendants were aware of the suicide risk of using metal bunk beds in rooms for mentally disturbed detainees, and that alternative arrangements were feasible, the law was not clearly established enough to defeat the defendant supervisors' defense of qualified immunity. A defendant doctor was not sufficiently enough involved with the decedent to be liable for his death. Miller v. Harbaugh, #11-3418, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 21855 (7th Cir.).
A pre-trial detainee in a county facility had a history of depression but had exhibited no signs of suicidal tendencies. A social worker decided not to forward his request to see a prison psychiatrist to ask for anti-depressant medication. After the detainee hung himself and died, a lawsuit was filed for deliberate indifference against the psychiatrist, who was an employee of a private nonprofit organization which furnishes medical services to the facility. The psychiatrist could not seek qualified immunity from federal civil rights liability as a private doctor working part-time for a government entity, as there was no history of such immunity for such doctors at the time the federal civil rights statute was enacted. McCullum v. Tepe, #11-3424, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 18171, 2012 Fed. App. 0287P (6th Cir.).
A prisoner who had a long history of suicide attempts successfully hung himself to death. A federal appeals court ruled that the defendants, including an intake nurse, a psychology associate, and a number of guards were properly denied summary judgment in a lawsuit over the death, given that there were allegations that could support a finding of deliberate indifference. The nurse allegedly reviewed his file and failed to include his history of suicide from his transfer form. The psychology associate allegedly approved his placement in a special management unit, which the plaintiffs claimed did not provide adequate care. The guards were accused of not promptly summoning medical help when they found the prisoner hanging in his cell, with no pulse or breath. Estate of Miller v. Tobiasz, #11-3233, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 10465 (7th Cir.).
A pretrial detainee who complained about a sheriff and a jail superintendent confining him to segregation on "suicide watch" for over two years did not show a violation of his due process rights. He failed to prove that the defendants intentionally disregarded a substantial risk of harm to him when what they did was follow a psychologist's recommendations. Miller v. Hertz, #10-1127, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 10202 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
A private company that contracted with a county to provide medical services at a jail was found liable for failing to prevent the suicide of a detainee. The defendant was aware of the risk that he might commit suicide when he answered "yes" to ten questions on a suicide screening form at intake. The jury awarded $750,000 in damages, and the court also awarded the plaintiffs $234,320 in attorneys' fees, and $11,302.20 in costs. The court also reduced the damage award against the defendant company to $257,000 to reflect the amount paid by other defendant parties who settled before trial. The jury had found the private company 35% at fault for the death, while assessing 65% of the blame against the county and its employees. A federal appeals court upheld this result. Sinkov v. Americor, Inc., #10-0309, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 7667 (Unpub. 2nd Cir.).
A prisoner who claimed that a psychologist improperly ordered him placed on suicide watch instead of medicating him failed to establish a claim for deliberate indifference. There was nothing to show that the defendant's actions were inconsistent with his duties as a medical professional. The prisoner had a history of substance abuse and expressed a desire to be medicated with Zoloft, which the psychologist did not believe he needed. Walker v. Eyke, #09-1695, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 6512 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A pretrial detainee committed suicide on the third day of his confinement, and his estate sued the county and various jail and health care personnel and entities for failure to prevent the suicide. The county, jail warden, and correctional officers moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion as to all defendants, erroneously also including the independent private contractor providing medical services at the jail and its defendant employees, despite the fact that they had not joined in the summary judgment motion. When informed of this, the trial judge nevertheless upheld the summary judgment for these defendants, ruling that as private parties they did not act under color of state law as required for federal civil rights claims, and declining to exercise jurisdiction over state law claims against them. A federal appeals court held that the trial judge should have given the plaintiff notice and an opportunity to be heard before ruling that the private defendants did not act under color of state law. The plaintiff could have argued that the private defendants acted under color of state law, and acted with deliberate indifference to a known risk of suicide. Further proceedings were therefore required. It is well settled, the appeals court noted, that private persons and entities sometimes act under color of state law. Donnell v. Correctional Health Services, Inc., #10-1211, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 25815 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner suffering from bipolar disorder hung himself to death in his cell in a Texas prison. His mother sued, claiming that prison authorities had been deliberately indifferent to her son's condition, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. She also asserted a disability discrimination claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She argued that he had been denied treatment for his condition, that he was denied medication or it was confiscated, causing manic episodes, and that he was sometimes denied Lamictal, fish oil supplements, and vitamin E, which had been effective in treating his bipolar disorder, and instead provided with ineffective medications with extreme side effects. She also contended that prison employees missed clear signs that his mental health was deteriorating and that he was a suicide risk.At the time of his death, he was being housed in isolation, which was allegedly a violation of the standards issued by National Commission on Correctional Health Care ("NCCHC"), which direct that suicidal prisoners not be housed in isolation, unless under constant supervision. He was allegedly not closely monitored, and his mother argued that log entries showing the contrary had been fabricated. The federal appeals court upheld a determination that the lawsuit's federal civil rights clams against the state Department of Criminal Justice and prison officials in their official capacity were barred by sovereign immunity, while all other federal civil rights and ADA claims were time-barred as they involved conduct that had occurred over two years ago. Brockman v. Tex. Dept. of Criminal Justice, #09-40940, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 20349 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
A prisoner sued a prison psychiatrist who treated him for various psychological disorders, asserting that the doctor prescribed anti-psychotic medications in order to cause him to commit suicide. The evidence, however, indicated that the inmate, who stated that he had lost trust in the doctor, exhibited paranoid thoughts, stopped taking his medication, and threatened suicide, and that the doctor had him placed under observation. There was no evidence of deliberate indifference to the prisoner's medical needs, much less an intent to harm him. There was also no evidence of the inmate's contention that the anti-psychotic medication prescribed interacted with other medication he was taking to cause suicidal tendencies. Thomas v. Beard, #10-1375, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 16390 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A juvenile pretrial detainee segregated from adult prisoners committed suicide in jail. A federal appeals court held that a jail nurse was entitled to summary judgment, as there was no evidence that she had acted with deliberate indifference to a known risk that the youth was "in a substantial danger" of killing himself. Similarly, there was no evidence that a correctional officer knew that the detainee was suicidal, so that his failure to check his cell every 15 minutes or to search it did not constitute deliberate indifference. Claims against supervisors and the county were also rejected as to the suicide, as there was no showing of an underlying constitutional violation. Simmons v. Navajo County, #08-15522, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 12858 (9th Cir.).
A prisoner whose wife killed herself after she was released from jail sued the sheriff's department, the jail, and a number of jailers, claiming that their deliberate indifference caused her death. Reversing the dismissal of the lawsuit, the federal appeals court ruled that the trial court should have "liberally construed" the complaint as setting forth a theory that could proceed--specifically that the defendants failed to provide the decedent with adequate medical care and were deliberately indifferent to her needs, especially when she was in a mental hospital while in state custody. The husband allegedly tried to get guards to investigate his wife's suicide threats, but that instead of doing so, they mocked him and ignored his requests. Garrett v. Belmont County Sheriff's Dept., #08-3978, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 6770 (Unpub. 6th Cir.).
Officers transporting a woman to a jail for civil protective custody witnessed her attempting to choke herself by wrapping a seatbelt around her neck, screaming that they should kill her or she would take her own life. They failed to either take her to a hospital or report the incident to jail personnel. She was released and then detained again. During the second detention, which was less than 48 hours after the suicide threat, she hung herself in her cell. A reasonable jury could find that the officers acted with deliberate indifference to the decedent's serious medical needs so that they were not entitled to qualified immunity. The city could also potentially be liable for failing to adequately train the officers on suicide prevention and reporting, but claims relating to alleged failure to discipline the individual officers were properly rejected. Conn v. City of Reno, #07-15572, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 729 (9th Cir.).
A mental health patient at a state hospital was on leave from the hospital to attend a family funeral, and was arrested for theft and battery after getting separated from his mother. During booking at the jail, it was noticed that he had laceration scars on his neck and wrist, and he admitted having attempted suicide during the previous month. Jail personnel arranged for him to continue receiving medication he was taking to inhibit suicidal thoughts. He was placed on suicide watch for a time, but taken off it after he allegedly denied having suicidal thoughts. He was again placed on suicide watch after refusing his medication, and after a blade was found missing from his razor. When he was later again taken off suicide watch, he used a bed sheet to hang himself from the bars on his cell window. Summary judgment was upheld for defendant jail officials in a lawsuit over his death, as the evidence presented was insufficient to meet the "high hurdle" of deliberate indifference to the risk of suicide required for liability. A settlement of $75,000 was reached on official capacity claims against the sheriff. Minix v. Canareccii, #09-2001, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 4025 (7th Cir.).
After a pretrial detainee successfully committed suicide, his parents sued the county, two deputies, and a mental health specialist for failing to prevent his death. While the other defendants were not shown to have known that the detainee was suicidal or to have deliberately ignored a risk that he might take his own life, the mental health specialist was not entitled to summary judgment. His expressed understanding that the detainee was "not out of the woods yet" could be used to show that a reasonable mental health professional would not have acted to remove suicide prevention measures previously imposed on the detainee by another employee. Clouthier v. Contra Costa, #07-16703, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 884 (9th Cir.).
Evidence in a lawsuit did not show that a private company that managed a county jail or its employees had knowledge making a detainee's suicide foreseeable. No behavior was witnessed indicating mental issues or suicidal tendencies on the part of the detainee. During the morning of the suicide, employees violated the company's own policies of making rounds by performing checks only hourly and omitting the decedent's location during one such check, but this did not suffice to impose liability in the absence of foreseeability of the suicide attempt. Timson v. Juvenile and Jail Facility Management Services, Inc., #09-12351, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 26120 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
An arrestee taken to a county prison told officers that he had swallowed 10 to 12 oxycontin pills, resulting in him being placed under close observation. His privileges were gradually restored, but he committed suicide in his cell. His grandmother sued the county and prison employees, claiming deficient suicide prevention policies or practices led to his death and that there had been deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The plaintiff failed to show that the decedent had a particular vulnerability to suicide, according to the appeals court. The court believed that taking the drugs, cutting open a mattress, and putting a staple into or near his eye did not show such vulnerability, and that even his family and friends did not notice any change in his behavior that would appear to make him more likely to try to take his own life. Wargo v. Schuylkill County, #08-4802, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 22279 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
An arrestee placed in a county jail had problems with both anxiety and asthma. He was placed in a holding cell so that corrections officers could check on him from time to time. He hanged himself in his cell. It was subsequently learned that one officer had filled in the welfare check log after the fact, even though he lacked personal knowledge of when other officers had checked on the prisoner. A federal lawsuit over the prisoner's death resulted in summary judgment for the defendants. The administrator of the decedent's estate then filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Ohio state court. An Ohio appeals court ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the officers acted recklessly and were aware that their conduct would probably result in the suicide, so that summary judgment was granted for them The court also rejected a claim for spoilation of evidence against the officer who filled out the welfare check log after the fact, noting that he did not destroy physical evidence or otherwise disrupt the lawsuit. Hope v. Lake County Board of Commissioners, #2008-L-173, 2009 Ohio App. Lexis 4982 (11th Dist.).
An officer did not use excessive force in employing pepper spray to control an unruly inmate and compel him to comply with her orders. After he was pepper sprayed, he was examined by psychiatric staff members, who concluded that he should be placed on suicide watch, after which he was transferred to a floor where such prisoners were housed. The detainee had no due process right to a hearing prior to his transfer there. Sanchez v. McCray, #08-13503, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 22800 (Unpub. 11th Cir.).
In a lawsuit filed by the sister of a detainee who successfully committed suicide, a federal appeals court upheld a finding of no liability on civil rights claims against the county, but reversed summary judgment for a psychiatrist under contract with the jail on a medical malpractice claim. The psychiatrist, who was consulted by jail personnel on the detainee's prescriptions, tried to meet with him for a psychiatric examination, but the detainee became "highly agitated" and refused to speak with him in front of a jail officer. The psychiatrist believed that this was a manic episode and discontinued an antidepressant medication to attempt to deal with it. For purposes of the medical malpractice claim, this was a treatment decision, resulting in a duty of care. Whether the psychiatrist violated the applicable standard of care and whether this proximately caused the detainee's death required further proceedings to determine. While it was clear that the jail's express policy required the presence of a jail officer during the interview with the psychiatrist, this was not a violation of the detainee's constitutional rights. Hunter v. Amin, #08-3719, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 21731 (7th Cir.).
The temporary placement of the plaintiff prisoner in an observation cell because it was believed he might be suicidal did not violate the Eighth Amendment. The court also rejected claims based on the alleged failure to provide promised ambulatory aids and dietary supplements if the prisoner would end his hunger strike. The prisoner could proceed, however, on his claim that he was not provided with advance notice of a claimed disciplinary violation. Cox v. Clark, #07-16812, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 7526 (Unpub. 9th Cir.).
Two police officers transporting a detainee to civil protective custody experienced her wrapping a seatbelt around her neck in an attempt to choke herself, followed by her screaming that they should kill her or else she would kill herself. They allegedly failed to report this to jail personnel or to take her to a hospital, and she was released from custody a few hours later. The following day, based on a misdemeanor charge, she was detained again, and subsequently, less than forty-eight hours after her initial suicide threats, she hung herself in her cell and died. Overturning summary judgment for the defendant police officers in a federal civil rights lawsuit over the suicide, a federal appeals court found that a reasonable jury could have decided that their failure to report the suicide attempt and threats rendered subsequent medical evaluation at the facility ineffective, and that the suicide might have been prevented by effective medical intervention, had these facts been known. Conn v. City of Reno, #07-15572, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 16348 (9th Cir.).
An inmate on suicide watch at a county detention facility, having previously attempted suicide, killed himself by hanging himself in his cell with a blanket given to him by a guard after he complained of being cold. The trial court properly dismissed claims against various "John Doe" defendants when the plaintiff failed, after ten months of extensive discovery, to identify these individuals. The appeals court also ruled that the guard's action did not show that the facility engaged in deliberately indifferent training or supervision. Blakeslee v. Clinton County, #08-4313, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 15483 (Unpub. 3rd Cir.).
A prisoner who suffered self-inflicted serious injuries from several suicide attempts was entitled to the appointment of counsel in pursuing his lawsuit asserting that his injuries were the result of untreated mental illness. Prison medical records appeared to support his claim that he suffered from serious mental illness, a learning disability, and functioned on a "borderline intellectual level." In denying the appointment of counsel, the trial court abused its discretion by failing to examine the prisoner's competency to litigate his case. Matz v. Frank, #08-3388, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 16585 (Unpub. 7th Cir.).
After an 18-year-old female detainee at a Wisconsin prison for women managed to commit suicide despite being placed on 24-hour-a-day suicide watch, her estate and minor sisters sued a number of correctional employees for failure to prevent the death, seeking a total of $10 million in damages. After years of litigation, the plaintiffs accepted a settlement offer of $635,000, not including attorneys' fees. The plaintiffs then sought $328,740.42 in attorneys' fees. The trial judge reduced the request, awarding $100,000 in attorneys' fees, stating that he was doing so because the plaintiffs recovered only a "small fraction" of the damages they originally sought. The appeals court found that this was an improper approach, and stated that the fact that the plaintiffs initially requested an "absurd" amount of damages should not be held against them to reduce the attorneys' fee award, since they did obtain a "significant" recovery. Further proceedings were ordered on the right amount of attorneys' fees to award. Estate of Enoch v. Tienor, #08-4103, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 13920 (7th Cir.).
A medical service that provided care to prisoners failed to show that it was an arm of the state of Delaware for purposes of asserting Eleventh Amendment immunity from a lawsuit for damages arising out of the successful suicide of a prisoner with psychiatric problems after he was removed from suicide watch and placed on a less restrictive watch status. The medical service was a corporate entity, was not exempt from state taxation, and there was no showing that a judgment against it would be paid out of state funds. The defendant also failed to show that it was entitled to state law tort immunity. Lamb v. Taylor, #08-324, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 26853 (D. Del.).
A prisoner who claimed that he asked for help for his suicidal condition stated a viable Eighth Amendment claim. He asserted that he asked to be placed on observation status because of suicidal thoughts, that an officer gave him a razor after he expressed these thoughts, and that medical treatment was not provided until a week after he cut himself 133 times with the razor. He also claimed that "cries for help" were not responded to until he actually tried to hang himself. If true, the actions of a crisis intervention worker, a nurse, and the corrections officer who allegedly gave the prisoner the razor could be found to constitute deliberate indifference to the risk of suicide. Vann v. Vandenbrook, 09-cv-007, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 10195 (W.D. Wis.).
There were genuine issues of fact as to whether prison staff members acted with deliberate indifference to the risk that an inmate would hurt himself, resulting in his death in his cell from asphyxia from hanging himself while trying to feign suicide. Wilson v. Taylor, Civ. No. 05-821, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 11104 (D. Del.).
Detention center personnel were entitled to qualified immunity in a lawsuit concerning the death of a woman brought there following a minor auto collision who then used a television cable to hang herself after she was then arrested on an outstanding warrant. Prior to her death, the detainee had not exhibited any suicidal tendencies to put the defendants on notice that she might harm herself. Prestenbach v. LaFourche Parish Detention Center, 08-4109, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 14784 (E.D. La.).
Police officers were aware that a pretrial detainee was suicidal, and, although the actions they took proved insufficient to prevent his death, there was no reasonable basis to determine, on the basis of the evidence presented, that they acted with deliberate indifference to the risk of his suicide. The officers did take dangerous items, including a razor blade, from the detainee, handcuffed him behind his back, and sought help from a special unit to assist with the emotionally disturbed arrestee. As they waited for assistance, they cornered the detainee against a wall, and chased him when escaped and ran up stairs to a roof from which he jumped to his death. Kelsey v. City of New York, 07-0290-cv, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 840 (2nd Cir.).
Family of prisoner who died after hanging himself in a county jail failed to show that sheriff should be held liable on the alleged basis of failure to establish adequate policies on providing medical care or failure to adequately supervise personnel, or that the county should be held liable on the basis of deliberate indifference or inadequate policies. Brumfield v. Hollins, No. 07-61023, (5th Cir.). [Note: the citation to this case, decided Dec. 2nd, is not yet available at Lexisone, for some reason. Will keep looking for it].
Correctional officer could not be held liable for pre-trial detainee's death from suicide when there was no indication that the officer was aware of the allegedly suicidal behavior observed by his cellmates, or that the inmate's behavior was otherwise unusual. It could not be inferred that a decision to move the detainee to a particular cell indicated knowledge of a risk that he would commit suicide, since that cell was not only used for prisoners on suicide watch. Gaston v. Ploeger, No. 08-3028, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 22197 (10th Cir.).
Prison psychiatrist was not entitled to qualified immunity in a suicidal prisoner's lawsuit claiming that she acted with deliberate indifference to his serious injuries. Her action in ordering his transport 150 miles away for medical treatment while he was in a comatose condition hours after a suicide attempt, instead of attempting to provide immediate medical care, could be found to be conduct which would result in a "significant delay" or even complete denial of medical care. The exceptional circumstances of the prisoner's comatose condition, the court found, "obviously" required immediate medical care, so that the trial court did not err in finding that she was liable for the prisoner's injuries. The trial court awarded the prisoner $103,800 in compensatory damages, as well as attorneys' fees. Bias v. Woods, No. 05-10890, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 16299 (Unpub. 5th Cir.).
The use of male officers to remove a suicidal prisoner from her cell and remove her clothing was based on staffing exigencies. The clothing was removed so that it could not be used by the inmate to injure herself. The court granted all defendants summary judgment, also ruling that the prisoner's removal from her cell and placement in administrative segregation did not violate her rights, since her past suicidal threats and current conduct justified these actions. Graham v. Van Dycke, No. 05-3397, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 53253 (D. Kan.).
When a detainee responded negatively, during jail intake, to questions about whether he had ever attempted suicide or was suicidal, but affirmatively to a question about whether he recently suffered the loss of a loved one, a reasonable jury could not conclude that the risk that he would commit suicide was obvious. Accordingly, even if suicide prevention training had not been provided for jail personnel, the county was not liable for failure to prevent the detainee's suicide seven hours later. Whitt v. Stephens County, No. 07-10729, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 10881 (5th Cir.).
The fact that officers transporting prisoners had different duties than arresting officers, or that jail clerks did not receive training on the watching of monitors and had too much work to do to adequately watch them was insufficient to impose liability on the city for an alleged practice or custom of failing to provide adequate suicide prevention training to jail personnel. City and officers were not liable for detainee's suicide in city jail. Coleman v. City of Pagedale, No. 4:06CV-01376, 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6781 (E.D. Mo.).
No evidence was presented from which a jury could reasonably find that jail officials acted with deliberate indifference to the risk that a detainee would commit suicide. While jail personnel knew that the detainee had "emotional issues," they acted reasonably in placing him in administrative segregation in order to better monitor him, in arranging for him to meet with a counselor with training in suicide risk assessment, and in relying on the counselor's determination that, while he may have been having "passive suicidal thoughts," it was not necessary to place him on suicide watch. Kulp v. Veruete, No. 06-4790, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 4205 (3rd Cir.).
Nurse was not entitled to summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity in a lawsuit accusing her of deliberate indifference to risk of suicide of detainee at youth correctional facility. The deceased youth's parents claimed that the nurse was aware that their son had a history of suicide attempts and bipolar disorder, but failed to put him on suicide watch or to complete a form that would have notified other facility staff that he was a suicide risk, resulting in him committing suicide hours later. The nurse claimed that the youth appeared "happy" during the intake process. Matis v. Johnson, No. 07-30104, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 2086 (5th Cir.).
City and its personnel were not liable for suicide of a man arrested for intoxicated driving and detained in a cell for intoxicated and combative prisoners. There was no evidence that officers had any actual knowledge that the detainee posed a substantial risk of suicide. The fact that he had fought with officers and made certain "off-hand, cavalier" comments did not establish that he was suicidal. Branton v. City of Moss Point, No. 07-60653, 2008 U.S. App. Lexis 76 (5th Cir.).
Mother of detainee who committed suicide in jail failed to show that the jailers knew or reasonably should have known of his suicidal tendencies or contributed in any way to his death by an unjustified delay in providing him with medical assistance. Estate of Justus v. County of Buchanan, No. 1:06CV00117, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 75238 (W.D. Va.).
The mother of a detainee who committed suicide in a county jail failed to show that the jailers knew, or reasonably should have known, of his suicidal tendencies or that any delay in providing medical assistance contributed to his death. The court also found that even if the county sheriff was deliberately indifferent in failing to maintain a surveillance system in good operating order, there was no showing that existing law would have clearly established that the absence of an operating surveillance system would violate a detainee's constitutional rights. Justus v. County of Buchanan, No.1:06CV00117, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 75238 (W.D. Va.).
Family of arrestee who committed suicide by hanging himself with trousers supplied by the sheriff's department failed to show that the jail's training policies on suicide prevention were inadequate and caused the arrestee's death. Appeals court also rejects state law claim under Texas Tort Claims Act. There was no waiver of sovereign immunity under that statute for issuing "non-defective" trousers to the arrestee. Forgan v. Howard County, No. 06-10472, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 17903 (5th Cir.).
While a detainee who attempted suicide by hanging himself was young, intoxicated, and acting irrationally, these facts did not necessarily establish that he had a strong likelihood of inflicting harm upon himself. Neither his behavior nor scars on his arms were sufficient to put an officer on notice that he could harm himself. No liability existed, therefore, for the permanent brain damage he suffered from his suicide attempt. Joines v. Township of Ridley, No. 06-2518, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 15859 (3rd Cir.).
Use of restraints on prisoner at county jail after she stated that she was having suicidal thoughts and wanted to try to make herself bleed to death did not shock the conscience or violate her due process rights. Norris v. Engles, No. 06-3394, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 18838 (8th Cir.).
County officials were not shown to have had actual knowledge that a pre-trial detainee was a suicide risk, and therefore were not liable for his suicide approximately five hours after he was brought to a jail. No "troubling behavior" was observed prior to his death, and any failure to assess and monitor the detainee was, at most, negligence, which was insufficient for a federal civil rights claim. The defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Whitt v. Stephens County, No. 06-11215, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 12550 (5th Cir.).
In a lawsuit arising out of the death of a county inmate who hung himself, the plaintiff failed to show that the actions of county employees violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq., since there was no showing that the decedent had been denied access to programs or services because of a disability. Claims for alleged medical malpractice under state law, and that the county had policies, practices, and procedures depriving the decedent of his Eighth Amendment rights, however, were viable on the basis of disputed facts concerning his treatment. Herman v. County of York, No. 1:05-CV-2501, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 28824 (M.D. Pa.).
In the absence of any evidence that a correctional officer considered an inmate to be suicidal or that he was aware of the "strange behavior" observed by the inmate's cellmates, he could not be liable for the prisoner's suicide in a county jail, and was entitled to qualified immunity. A sheriff, who was, at most, negligent, was also entitled to qualified immunity on a federal civil rights claim. Gaston v. Ploeger, No. 05-3461, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 8572 (10th Cir.).
When no previous suicide had occurred at a city jail, and there was no evidence of a city policy which was deliberately indifferent to prisoner suicide, the city could not be held liable for the death of a prisoner placed on suicide watch (after he asked a detective, during his booking, to please give him a gun so that he could shoot himself), but who hung himself with two blankets torn into strips. Bradley v. City of Fendale, No. 02-73001, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 26270 (E.D. Mich.).
City and police officer were not entitled to summary judgment in lawsuit concerning prisoner's successful suicide. Judge at arraignment had ordered that the prisoner be placed on suicide watch, and officer had been present at the hearing, but allegedly failed to notify anyone concerning the suicide watch, resulting in the prisoner hanging himself when he was left alone in his cell for an hour. Cooper v. County of Washtenaw, No. 06-1013, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 3630 (6th Cir.). [N/R]
Officers who placed prisoner in restraints during suicide watch did not use excessive force or place him there with the intent of harming him. Additionally, verbal insults by two officers after his suicide attempt did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Martinez v. Zadroga, No. 06-1410, 2007 U.S. App. Lexis 1769 (10th Cir.). [N/R]
Estate of pretrial detainee who committed suicide in county jail could pursue federal civil rights claims against jail's mental health services contractor based on alleged failure to train personnel, resulting in detainee, after being on suicide watch, being released back into the general population prematurely. Factual issue existed as to whether contractor's employees knew of the substantial risk of suicide based on contact with the detainee's family and friends. Claims were also validly asserted against the sheriff on the basis of prior suicides at the facility, and policies and customs that allegedly caused them, but court dismisses state law claims against the sheriff based on alleged overcrowding. The decision as to whether or not to build a new jail to address overcrowding was one for which the sheriff was entitled to sovereign immunity as a "planning decision" under Florida law. Smith v. Brevard County, No.6:06-cv-715-Orl-31, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 79506 (M.D. Fla.). [N/R]
Despite prior suicide attempt by detainee, jail caseworker/counselor was not liable for 18-year-old's subsequent successful suicide when she returned him to a single person cell in the general population of the jail. She was entitled to qualified immunity, as there was no clearly established law indicating that her actions would violate his constitutional rights, even if she arguably acted with poor judgment. Perez v. Oakland County, No. 05-1583, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 25754 (6th Cir.). [2006 JB Dec]
Correctional officer to whom prisoner indicated suicidal feelings did not act with deliberate indifference when he immediately passed on the prisoner's request to see a counselor and returned to the cell several times to see if he was ok. Other officers, who knew of the request to see a counselor, but did not know the reason for the request, could not be found to have acted with deliberate indifference to a suicide threat they did not know about. Collins v. Seeman, No. 05-1309, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 23092 (7th Cir.). [2006 JB Nov]
Estate of pre-trial detainee who committed suicide failed to show that jail nurse, social worker, psychologist, medical services contractor, or director of correctional services for jail acted with deliberate indifference in failure to prevent his death, but there were genuine issues of fact barring summary judgment for a jail classification officer and a supervisory correctional officer in the lawsuit. It was disputed whether these latter defendants were aware of the decedent's prior suicide attempts and suicide threats, and acted with deliberate indifference to these problems. Linden v. Washtenaw County, No. 04-1964, 167 Fed. Appx. 410 (6th Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Sheriff and arresting officer were not liable for death of detainee who died from self-mutilation in county jail after an arrest for intoxicated driving. Jailers were also entitled to qualified immunity for their decision to admit the detainee to the jail rather than sending him to a hospital, as he appeared calm and they did not know the amount of drugs he had ingested or that he had a need for immediate medical treatment. They were not entitled, however, to qualified immunity on the claim that they failed to adequately monitor him following his intake. Grayson v. Ross, No. 04-3577, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 18061 (8th Cir.). [2006 JB Sep]
The alleged absence of any mental illness in a pre-trial detainee who killed himself in a county jail did not bar a federal civil rights claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, but neither the county nor an officer were deliberately indifferent, as they had no awareness of any major risk that the detainee would commit suicide. Taylor v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance Company, No. 04-C-1203, 423 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. Wis. 2006). [N/R]
Dismissal of lawsuit over suicide of pretrial detainee was improper when the decedent's parents claimed that prison employees either knew or reasonably should have known that they should keep him under observation to prevent his suicide but did not do so, and also did not remove from his possession items which he could use to kill himself, such as the shoelace that he used to hang himself. Kulp v. Veruette, No. 04-3139, 167 Fed. Appx. 911 (3rd Cir. 2006). [N/R]
Correctional officers were not liable for failing to prevent pre-trial detainee's suicide. They had no reason to know that she was likely to kill herself, since she had not previously threatened or attempted to do so, and the mere fact of her intoxication, standing alone, was insufficient to put them on notice of the risk of suicide, particularly when she had been detained on previous occasions for public intoxication without incident. Cruise v. Marino, No. 3:01-2310, 404 F. Supp. 2d 656 (M.D. Pa. 2005). [N/R]
County sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity from personal liability for failing to prevent pretrial detainee suicides at the jail, given that there was no evidence indicating that he was personally aware that detainees previously had considered suicide, and there was also no evidence that he personally directed any actions concerning the detainees during their detention. Mann v. Lopez, No. Civ.A. SA05CA0527, 404 F. Supp. 2d 932 (W.D. Tex. 2005). [N/R]
County and sheriff were not liable for detainee's suicide when the jail had procedures in place to screen detainees for suicidal tendencies and the detainee showed no signs of any suicidal intentions during three weeks of detention prior to killing himself. Keehner v. Dunn, No. 05-2136, 409 F. Supp. 2d 1266 (D. Kan. 2005). [N/R]
Jailers did not act with deliberate indifference in failing to prevent detainee's suicide attempt when they based their actions on the opinion of a psychiatric doctor that the prisoner, in previously stabbing himself in the wrist and drinking cleaning solution, was not suicidal, but merely "acting out" and "malingering." Drake v. Koss, No. 05-1464, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 5396 (8th Cir.). [2006 JB Apr]
Deputies who placed an intoxicated detainee who had made suicidal threats in a cell under video surveillance were not liable for his subsequent successful suicide despite failure to remove the shoelaces he used to hang himself. Short v. Smoot, No. 05-1284, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 2564 (4th Cir.). County sheriff was not entitled to summary judgment on claims that he was individually liable for a jail detainee's suicide on the basis of failure to train personnel on the risk of detainee suicide. Gaston v. Ploeger, No. 04-2368, 399 F. Supp. 2d 1211 (D. Kan. 2005). [2006 JB Mar]
Facts alleged were sufficient to create a genuine issue as to whether an officer was deliberately indifferent to a "strong likelihood" that a DUI arrestee would commit suicide while in the city jail. Snow v. City of Citronelle, No. 04-14409, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 17243 (11th Cir.). [2005 JB Oct]
Allegedly suicide-prone prisoner failed to show a causal connection between the pending execution of another inmate and the alleged increased risk that he and other suicide-prone prisoners might attempt to harm themselves. Trial court properly dismissed his lawsuit, which he sought to bring as a class action on behalf of suicide-prone prisoners, seeking to bar the execution. Ziemba v. Rell, No. 05-8903, 409 F.3d 553 (2nd Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Prison officials did not show deliberate indifference to the serious needs of a mentally ill and suicidal prisoner by failing to provide requested therapeutic art supplies, when they did provide a medical examination and anti-psychotic medications. Scarver v. Litscher, No.01C497, 371 S. Supp. 2d 986 (W.D. Wis. 2005). [N/R]
If officers waited ten minutes to summon medical assistance after discovering that arrestee had hung himself in his cell, this could be found to be deliberate indifference, serving as a basis for liability for his death. Bradich v. City of Chicago, No. 04-3626, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 13131(7th Cir.). [2005 JB Aug]
Sheriff and jail administrator could not be held liable for detainee's suicide in the absence of any evidence that either of them was aware of a conversation the detainee's spouse had with a correctional officer concerning the risk that he might attempt suicide or another officer's report that the detainee may have been trying to accumulate some of his medications to use at a later time. Court also finds that jail's suicide prevention policy was reasonable and that the county was not deliberately indifferent to training its employees in the prevention of suicide. The fact that the policy had not been "updated" recently, and that jail was not accredited by the American Correctional Association (ACA), did not alter the result when the policy contained a detailed listing of factors for the identification of possibly suicidal prisoners, procedures for screening inmates, and required that personnel receive on-going training in suicide prevention and intervention. Harvey v. County of Ward, No. A1-03-135, 352 F. Supp. 2d 1003 (D.N.D. 2005). [N/R]
Federal trial court properly granted judgment as a matter of law on federal civil rights claims and negligent training and supervision claims against Florida sheriff arising out of detainee's suicide after his requests to see a psychiatrist failed to be granted. Appeals court finds, however, that the trial court erred in also granting judgment for the sheriff on a state law vicarious liability negligence claim. Trial court acted within its discretion in excluding evidence of other suicides at detention facility, and testimony of plaintiff's suicide expert witness. Cook v. Sheriff of Monroe County, No. 03-14784, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 4014 (11th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB May]
Alleged county jail policy of keeping all pretrial detainees housed in administrative segregation completely naked violated their due process and Fourth Amendment rights, and was not justified by concerns about suicide and guard safety. Federal court was also troubled by the use of guards of the opposite gender to remove clothing from such detainees. Sheriff was, however, entitled to qualified immunity from liability, as the law on the subject was not clearly established at the time the alleged policy was implemented. Rose v. Saginaw County, #01-10337, 353 F. Supp. 2d 900 (E.D. Mich. 2005). [2005 JB May]
City and police officer were not liable for suicide of pre-trial detainee in his cell when officer did not know that the detainee was suicidal and the city had constitutionally adequate suicide prevention policies. Gray v. City of Detroit, No. 03-2515, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 3419 (6th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Apr]
Police officer working as jailer in city jail was not entitled to peace-officer immunity under Alabama State law on a claim against him by the sister of an inmate who committed suicide there. The officer allegedly failed to follow mandatory rules and procedures requiring him to check on the prisoner twice an hour, and therefore was not exercising discretion when he engaged in the conduct that allegedly led to the inmate's death. Court rejects, however, claims against police chief based on training, implementing and enforcing procedures concerning the identification and handling of potentially suicidal prisoners. Howard v. City of Atmore, No. 1021312, 887 So.2d 201 (Ala. 2003), as modified on denial of rehearing (2004). [N/R]
County, warden, and jail personnel had no liability for pre-trial detainee's suicide when there was nothing which would have put them on notice that he was particularly susceptible to suicide attempts. Woloszyn v. Lawrence, No. 03-2390, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 1417 (3d Cir.). [2005 JB Mar]
Juvenile pre-trial detainee's rights were not violated by his incarceration in adult county jail when it was done in compliance with Michigan state law and he was kept segregated from adult prisoners. Conditions he faced in lock-down were not punitive but were justified by a legitimate interest in preventing his possible suicide. Federal appeals court further finds that his due process rights were not violated by his loss of credit in alternative education program following his arrest and detention or by the program's refusal to re-enroll him after his release. Daniels v. Woodside, No. 03-2053, 2005 U.S. App. Lexis 1127 (6th Cir.). [2005 JB Mar]
Sheriff was not entitled to qualified immunity to claim that he was deliberately indifferent in his training and supervision of personnel in dealing with the risk of suicide in a county jail where two prior suicides had occurred. Detainee who threatened suicide was allegedly placed in an isolation cell and given a blanket with which he hung himself a half hour after making the threat. Wever v. Lincoln County, No. 03-3633, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 22974 (8th 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]
Deliberate indifference to the risk that a detainee in a county jail would commit suicide was not shown where the jailer removed shoes and socks from the detainee's cell, had him placed in a padded "lunacy cell," and instructed personnel to place him on a suicide watch. Additionally, when the detainee was subsequently observed in the cell without clothes and in a "frog-like" position, a nurse was instructed to observe the detainee to assist in determining whether the cell should be entered, and it was concluded that the detainee was merely sleeping at the time. The fact that this conclusion was incorrect might show negligence, but not the deliberate indifference required for a civil rights claim. Gray v. Tunica County, Mississippi, #03-60761, 100 Fed. Appx. 281 (5th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court reinstates claim against county sheriff for failing to protect detainee against risk of suicide after he learned that he had just made a suicide attempt at another jail from which he had been transferred. Sheriff allegedly failed to inquire into the details of this prior attempt and placed the prisoner in a cell with a bedsheet with which the prisoner successfully killed himself. The prior suicide attempt days before had also involved the use of a bedsheet. Turney v. Waterbury, No. 03-2375, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 14811 (8th Cir). [2004 JB Sep]
Prison psychiatrist and mental health worker did not act with deliberate indifference in returning prisoner, formerly found to be suicidal, to the general prison population, after which he successfully killed himself. The prisoner, at the time, appeared to have responded positively to the medication provided, and signed a contract in which he agreed not to hurt himself or others. The court finds that there was nothing from which the defendants could have inferred a strong likelihood that he would commit suicide at that time. Soles v. Ingham County, 316 F. Supp. 2d 536 (W.D. Mich. 2004). [N/R]
Alleged failure of correctional employees to attempt to resuscitate an inmate found hanging in his cell did not violate any clearly established constitutional right in the absence of any evidence that the inmate had a pulse or was breathing at the time a corrections officer arrived at the cell. Dipace v. Goord, 308 F. Supp. 2d 274 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Federal appeals court upholds wrongful death jury award of $1.75 million in Illinois detainee suicide case based on alleged custom of failing to follow proper procedures with mentally ill inmates. Woodward v. Corr. Med. Services of Illinois, #03-3147, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 9537 (7th Cir.). [2004 JB Jul]
Pre-trial detainee's prior placement on suicide watch, and other prior incidents, including him cutting himself, did not suffice to show that jail officials were deliberately indifferent to the possibility of his attempting suicide by placing him in the general population, when a medical judgment had been made that this was now appropriate. There was nothing to show that jail officials were subjectively aware of a substantial risk that the detainee would imminently attempt suicide. Detainee therefore could not seek damages for injuries suffered in unsuccessful suicide attempt. Strickler v. McCord, 306 F. Supp. 2d 818 (N.D. Ind. 2004). [N/R]
Claim that jail personnel who came into contact with a pre-trial detainee "should have" known that she was suicidal was not sufficient to state a claim for "deliberate indifference" to a known substantial risk of suicide as required for federal civil rights liability. House v. County of Macomb, 303 F. Supp. 2d 850 (E.D. Mich. 2004). [N/R]
Jailer who decided to finish feeding other inmates rather than immediately checking on pretrial detainee he observed lying nude and apparently sleeping in a "peculiar" position was entitled to qualified immunity from liability for prisoner's successful suicide. The detainee's use of his jail jumpsuit to strangle himself was not foreseeable and the cell was padded, lacking fixtures that could be used by a prisoner seeking to hang himself. Gray v. Tunica County, Mississippi, 279 F. Supp. 2d 789 (N.D. Miss. 2003). [N/R]
Detainee's action of hanging himself to death with shoelace in his holding cell less than two hours after being placed there on DUI charges did not subject facility to liability under Pennsylvania state law for negligence. Neither "personal property" nor "real estate" exceptions to sovereign immunity under state law applied. Pennsylvania State Police v. Klimek, 839 A.2d 1173 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003). [2004 JB Apr]
Private psychiatric hospital and not-for-profit company which owned it were not immune under Tennessee law for potential liability for county jail inmate's suicide on the basis of their employee's alleged action in telling county jail that suicide protocol precautions were not necessary for this prisoner. Employee also qualified as a "state employee" because of his service in screening prisoners to determine if hospitalization was appropriate, and as a state employee, he was entitled to statutory immunity, but this did not alter the result as to the hospital or its owner. Shelburne v. Frontier Health, 126 S.W.3d 838 (Tenn. 2003). [N/R]
Georgia county correctional facility personnel took steps to monitor prisoner known to be a suicide risk after he previously attempted to harm himself and were not liable for his successful suicide in his cell which he accomplished by "unique methods," fashioning a tourniquet from a bed sheet and a crutch he had in his cell which he needed to walk after he broke his leg. Middlebrooks v. Bibb County, 582 S.E.2d 539 (Ga. App. 2003). [2004 JB Mar]
Federal trial judge upholds jury's finding that jail officials were negligent under Kansas state law, but not deliberately indifferent, as required for a federal civil rights claim, in failing to prevent the successful suicide of a inmate who used an electrical switchplate in his cell as a suicide aid. Jury's award of $10,002,000 in damages is reduced to $252,000 because of state statutory limit on wrongful death damage awards. Estate of Sisk v. Manzanares, 270 F. Supp. 2d 1265 (D. Kan. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Correctional officer could be found to have acted with deliberate indifference to an inmate's suicide threat if he actually, as alleged, responded to the threat by encouraging him to go ahead, leaving the area for a time, and refusing to return when other inmates tried to inform him of the inmate's hanging himself. Olson v. Bloomberg, No. 02-1874, 339 F.3d 730 (8th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Nov]
Jail's failure to provide a second nighttime jailer, even if it violated the provisions of an earlier consent decree concerning jail conditions did not establish a violation of the rights of a pretrial detainee who committed suicide during night hours when only one jailer was on duty. Sole jailer did not act with deliberate indifference to the needs of the detainee, who had allegedly expressly threatened suicide, by waiting for approximately one hour and 46 minutes between conducting checks of the prisoner's cells. Cagle v. Sutherland, No. 02-13131, 334 F.3d 980 (11th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Nov]
Prisoner's failure to object, in the trial court, to a magistrate's report and recommendations resulting in the dismissal of his claims that correctional officials were deliberately indifferent to his suicide attempts by allowing him to possess and swallow razor blades, barred his arguing any of his claims on appeal. Bacon v. McGarry, No. 02-4194, 71 Fed. Appx. 19 (10th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
Manufacturer of paper gown allegedly marketed for use with suicidal prisoners could be held liable when it failed to tear away when detainee hanged himself with it. Claims for products liability, negligence, and breach of warranty could proceed, along with due process claims against city for alleged reckless failure to provide proper medical care for suicidal prisoner. Court dismisses Eighth Amendment claim as inapplicable for the death of a pretrial detainee, as opposed to a convicted prisoner. Reed v. City of Chicago, No. 01C7865, 263 F. Supp. 2d 1123 (N.D. Ill. 2002). [2003 JB Oct]
County and county sheriff reach $300,000 settlement with family of jail inmate on their claim that his needs for psychiatric counseling were ignored, leading to his successful suicide. Lawsuit contended that the jail staff had knowledge that the prisoner had suicidal tendencies and had been diagnosed as a manic-depressive schizophrenic, but failed to make arrangements to provide mental health care. Estate of Price v. Black Hawk County, No. 00-CV-2008 (N.D. Iowa March 21, 2003), reported in The National Law Journal, p. B2 (April 7, 2003). [N/R]
Jail inmate's suicide was an unforeseen incident which could not be shown to have taken place because of the failure of officers to regularly conduct surveillance of his cell, when he acted "calm and controlled" before he took his own life, and his behavior did not show that he might be a danger to himself. Harvey v. Nichols, No. A03A0568, 581 S.E.2d 272 (Ga. App. 2003). [2003 JB Sep]
Montana Supreme Court finds that prison's practice of subjecting certain inmates to behavior modification plans, along with the living conditions in the areas where such inmates were housed, violated the state constitutional right to "human dignity" of mentally ill prisoner and represented cruel and unusual punishment, especially when used as a substitute for medical treatment for disruptive and suicidal prisoner. Walker v. State of Montana, #01-528, 68 P.3d 872 (Mont. 2003). [2003 JB Aug]
Parents of Mississippi inmate who committed suicide while incarcerated in county detention facility could not, under state law, pursue wrongful death lawsuit against defendant correctional officials when they were acting within the scope of their authority. State statute, A.M.C. Sec. 11-46-9(1)(m) prohibits inmate's negligence lawsuits against governmental entities and government employees acting within the scope of their authority, and the prisoner's parents "stood in the position" of the inmate in attempting to pursue a claim for wrongful death. Webb v. Desoto County, #2002-CA-00005-SCT, 843 So. 2d 682 (Miss. 2003). [N/R]
Estate of prisoner who died from a prescription drug overdose state a possible claim for negligence by alleging that prison personnel violated policies requiring controlled substance medication to be administered by licensed personnel, and by failing to complete a timely "unusual incident report" (UIR) concerning the prisoner's suicide attempt. Arias v. State of New York, Claim No. 97942, 755 N.Y.S.2d 223 (Ct. Cl. 2003). [N/R]
Correctional officials' interest in preventing suicide and preserving life, as well as maintaining order and discipline, outweighed a hunger-striking prisoner's right to privacy, resulting in a right to force-feed the prisoner. People ex. Rel. Department of Corrections v. Millard, Nos. 4-01-0857, 782 N.E.2d 966 (Ill. App. 2003). [2003 JB May]
Estate of manic-depressive schizophrenic prisoner with prior suicidal tendencies who committed suicide in his cell when left unattended reaches $300,000 settlement on federal civil rights lawsuit against sheriff and county. The plaintiff claimed that the decedent's need for psychiatric treatment or counseling was ignored, while the defendants argued that the decedent did not indicate a need for such care, but instead misled jail personnel about his medical history. Estate of Price v. Black Hawk County, No. 00-CV-2008 (March 21, 2003, N.D. Iowa), reported in The National Law Journal, p. B2 (April 7, 2003). [N/R]
Federal jury awards $1.75 million to the family of county jail detainee who hung himself after telling jail medical workers that he was suicidal. Jury award imposes liability on company that contracted with county to provide medical services at facility, as well as against social worker. County settled claims against it for $60,000 prior to trial. Woodward v. Correctional Medical Services, No. 00C6010, U.S. District Ct. N.D. Ill., Feb. 24, 2003, reported in Chicago Tribune, Sec. 2, page 3 (Feb. 25, 2003) and Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 3 (Feb. 25, 2003). [2003 JB Apr]
The fact that a city's policy on monitoring suicidal pre-trial detainees allowed the clerk doing so to perform other duties at the same time did not, by itself, demonstrate deliberate indifference to the risk of harm, nor did the fact that the video equipment used for monitoring in this particular instance turned out to be defective. Serafin v. City of Johnstown, #02-1281, 53 Fed. Appx. 211 (3rd Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Apr]
Lawsuit for wrongful death based on prisoner's suicide which named health care provider as a defendant did not have to comply with medical malpractice lawsuit requirement of submission of an expert affidavit of merit. Correctional officers who allegedly failed to follow jail policies for monitoring and inspecting the prisoner's cell were not protected by qualified immunity from wrongful death action, as their duty of inspecting the cells on a schedule was "clear and certain," rather than requiring the exercise of personal judgment. Clark v. Prison Health Services, Inc., #A02A1014, 372 S.E.2d 342 (Ga. App. 2002). [N/R]
Dismissal in federal court of wrongful death lawsuit brought over detainee's action of hanging himself in county jail barred relitigation of the estate's wrongful death and negligence claims in state court. Quinn v. Estate of Jones, No. 2000-CA-00977-SCT, 818 So. 2d 1148 (Miss. 2002). [N/R]
Prison medical personnel were not deliberately indifferent to the needs of an inmate who committed suicide, when prisoner's condition was changeable and he sometimes appeared able to interact appropriately with others. Pelletier v. Magnusson, 201 F. Supp. 2d 148 (D. Maine 2002). [2002 JB Oct]
Federal civil rights lawsuit brought by inmate's estate more than two years after his suicide in a county jail was time-barred by a Kansas two year statute of limitations. The time period began to run after the sheriff showed the administrators an air vent similar to that from which the inmate hanged himself and told them that two other similar deaths had occurred, which had led him to consider placing covers over the vents, which he did not do. The court rejected the argument that the grief of the inmate's parents over his death tolled (extended) the two year time limit. Hanchett v. Saline County Board of Commissioners, 194 F. Supp. 2d 1150 (D. Kan. 2001). [N/R]
County was not liable to detainee's suicide in jail on the basis of alleged inadequately staffing when it had an effective policy of checking on suicidal inmates every fifteen minutes and an officer saw and spoke to the detainee 15 to 20 minutes prior to the time he was found hanging in his cell. Rapier v. Kankakee County, Illinois, 203 F. Supp. 2d 978 (C.D. Ill. 2002). [2002 JB Sep]
Jailer's alleged awareness of detainee's prior suicide attempt seven months before was not sufficient, standing alone, to impose liability for detainee's successful suicide, in the absence of any indication that there was a strong likelihood that the detainee would commit suicide when he did. Holland v. City of Atmore, 168 F. Supp. 2d 1303 (S.D. Ala. 2001). [N/R]
Prisoner's estate had a possible claim against prison psychologist for failing to take action to prevent prisoner's suicide when psychologist himself had previously decided that the prisoner was suicidal "enough" to be placed under close observation. Prisoner's own assertion that he was "not suicidal" when released from suicide watch after a day was insufficient to change the result. Comstock v. McCrary, #99-2448, 273 F.3d 693 (6th Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Apr]
Prison medical personnel could not be held liable for failure to prevent a mentally ill prisoner's suicide, but federal appeals court finds that a claim was adequately stated against correctional officers to whom the prisoner purportedly made statements about killing himself and who allegedly did not look inside his cell for five hours on the night he did so, despite his cell window being covered by toilet paper. Sanville v. McCaughtry, #00-2933, 266 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Apr]
Kentucky county was entitled to sovereign immunity against claims for negligent operation of jail arising from prisoner's suicide in which he hung himself with a belt from the showerhead in his cell. State Board of Claims accordingly had no jurisdiction over claims brought by prisoner's estate against jailer and deputy jailers. Commonwealth v. Harris, No. 2000-SC-0409-TG, 59 S.W.2d 896 (Ky. 2001). [N/R]
Texas county juvenile detention facility reaches $100,000 settlement in lawsuit brought by family of 15-year-old who hung himself in his cell with a sheet. Creel v. Denton County, Denton Co., Texas, Cir. Ct., October 5, 2001, reported in The National Law Journal, p. B5 (Jan. 7, 2002). [N/R]
County sheriff's statement to the media that a jailor was watching a tv monitor and saw a pretrial detainee put a sheet around his neck was not admissible evidence in a lawsuit over the detainee's suicide. The statement did not come under a public records and reports exception to the hearsay rule, since it was not the result of the jail's investigation.. Ellis v. Jamerson, 174 F. Supp. 2d 747 (E.D. Tenn. 2001). [N/R]
Police dispatcher/jailer on duty when arrestee committed suicide was not liable, in the absence of subjective knowledge that there was a strong likelihood that arrestee would make the attempt at that time. Arrestee's prior alleged history of suicide attempts, drug abuse and mental problems did not, by themselves, show such knowledge when she did not exhibit suicidal threats or actions on the day of her most recent incarceration. Bowens v. City of Atmore, 171 F. Supp. 2d 1244 (S.D. Ala. 2001). [N/R]
Sheriff was entitled to summary judgment in federal civil rights lawsuit brought by prisoner's mother after he committed suicide in jail. Naumoff v. Old, #99-2574, 167 F. Supp. 2d 1250 (D. Kan. 2001). [N/R]
Estate of 17-year-old male pretrial detainee who committed suicide in N.Y. county jail did not show that jail officials were "subjectively aware" that he posed a suicide risk, so no federal civil rights claim could be pursued for failure to prevent the death. Plaintiff could, however, pursue state law wrongful death/negligence claim. Rivera v. County of Westchester, 729 N.Y.S.2d 836 (Sup. 2001). [2002 JB Jan]
County jail had no duty to obtain medical records of detainee from county hospital which would have revealed that he was a suicide risk and had previously attempted to kill himself. In the absence of an awareness of this risk, officer's failure to conduct required half-hour cell checks did not constitute deliberate indifference to the risk of the detainee committing suicide, but a state law negligence claim based on this can be pursued. Hott v. Hennepin County, #00-3595, 260 F.3d 901 (8th Cir. 2001). [2002 JB Jan]
Jail officials were not deliberately indifferent to the risk of prisoner suicide simply because they failed to remove a coat hook from jail cells after a prior suicide at the jail took place by a prisoner hanging himself from a protruding light fixture. Pretrial detainee could not recover damages for brain injuries he received during his suicide attempt. Hofer v. City of Auburn, Alabama, 155 F. Supp. 2d 1308 (M.D. Ala. 2001). [N/R]
299:173 Supreme Court of Alaska rejects trial court jury instructions that state could not be held liable for prisoner's death if it was caused by his intentional suicide. Joseph v. State, No. S-8518, 26 P.3d 459 (Alaska 2001).
298:158 Nebraska state statute mandating parental notification of juvenile detention did not impose liability on county and sheriff's deputies, based on failure to do so, for juvenile's subsequent suicide after his release from custody. Claypool v. Hibberd, #S-99-1223, 626 N.W.2d 539 (Neb. 2001).
298:155 Trial judge's award of $1.8 million in damages for suicide of pre-trial detainee in federal jail overturned; suicide after six months of incarceration was not foreseeable when prisoner had no known prior history of suicide attempts or thoughts; award of $1.6 million for pain and suffering while hanging to death was excessive when no reasoning for the award was offered by the court. Jutzi- Johnson v. United States, #00-2411, 263 F.3d 753 (7th Cir. 2001).
294:90 Constant video surveillance of suicidal prisoner's cell was not "deliberate indifference" to the risk of him taking his life; correctional officials not liable for prisoner hanging himself with his shoelaces; no liability, under Virginia state law, for suicide in the absence of a showing that prisoner was of "unsound mind" when he took his own life. Brown v. Harris, No. 00-1127, 240 F.3d 383 (4th Cir. 2001).
295:108 Michigan city reaches $31,500 settlement with three detainees jailed completely naked for a number of hours as a suicide prevention measure; prior court ruling found that removal of their underwear and possible viewing of their bodies by female officers was not adequately justified by suicide prevention concerns, and could violate privacy and due process rights. Wilson v. City of Kalamazoo,127 F. Supp. 2d 855 (W.D. Mich. 2000).
294:91 Having male pretrial detainees strip to their underwear as a suicide prevention measure if they refused to answer intake questions about suicidal tendencies was reasonable and did not violate their due process or privacy rights, even if done in the presence of female correctional officers. Johnson v. City of Kalamazoo, 124 F. Supp. 2d 1099 (W.D. Mich. 2000).
290:24 Sheriff and chief deputy were not entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuit over prisoner's successful suicide when they knew of her prior suicide attempt and of another prisoner's successful suicide in the same cell, which had a "blind spot" not viewable from a control room and several places from which a prisoner could tie a sheet to hang herself. Jacobs v. West Feliciana Sheriff's Dept., No. 99-30185, 228 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. 2000).
290:23 County policies were adequate to bar liability for prisoner's successful suicide; appeals court points to training program and American Correctional Association accreditation of jail. Yellow Horse v. Pennington County, Nos. 99-2419, 99-2420, 225 F.3d 923 (8th Cir. 2000).
289:10 "Low-level" county jail employees were not liable for prisoner's suicide after he was taken off of suicide watch, since they relied on statements by a nurse and a social worker that the prisoner no longer seemed suicidal; court orders further proceedings, however, on whether county policy, which did not require consulting with a mental health professional before ending suicide watch, was inadequate. Cills, Estate of, v. Kaftan, 105 F. Supp. 2d 391 (D.N.J. 2000).
281:73 Federal government liable for $1.8 million for suicide of pre-trial detainee, based on repeated failure to respond to signs that he might be suicidal; trial judge finds that policies and training programs were in place to help officers identify and aid suicidal prisoners, but these policies were not followed. Jutzi-Johnson v. U.S., No. 96-C-5708, U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill. March 29, 2000, reported in The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 1 (March 30, 2000).
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).
282:91 Alleged failure to train jail personnel in suicide prevention was not the proximate cause of prisoner's death when nothing gave jail personnel notice that he might be suicidal; decedent's own mother, a trained psychologist, believed that he was not suicidal; factual dispute over whether one jailor saw the noose being tied but failed to act immediately justified denial of summary judgment on the claims against him. Ellis v. Washington County, No. 98- 6178, 198 F.3d 225 (6th Cir. 1999).
283:107 Incident during an arrest three years before, during which detainee tried to swallow a crack pipe and crack cocaine, was insufficient to put jailers on notice that he had present suicidal tendencies; defendant jail officials were entitled to qualified immunity on lawsuit over failure to prevent detainee's suicide. Lambert v. City of Dumas, No. 99-1081, 187 F.3d 931 (8th Cir. 1999).
279:41 Prison psychiatrists were not liable for prisoner's suicide by overdosing on prescribed medication he hoarded, despite their purported knowledge of his suicidal thoughts and medicine hoarding at another facility; psychiatrists did not know that "pill line" procedures were insufficient to prevent such hoarding. Williams v. Mehra, No. 97-1118, 186 F.3d 685 (6th Cir. 1999).
266:25 Jailer, county and sheriff were not liable for prisoner's successful suicide in his cell; jailer correctly classified prisoner as suicide risk and took several steps to attempt to prevent suicide, and county and sheriff had policies in place designed to try to prevent inmate suicide. Liebe v. Norton, #98-1163, 157 F.3d 574 (8th Cir. 1998).
273:140 Prison classification specialist and segregation unit supervisor without specific knowledge of prisoner's prior alleged suicide attempt were not liable for failure to prevent his successful suicide; prison clinical psychologist who failed to place prisoner on suicide watch, but instead referred him to psychiatrist for further evaluation did not act with deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Greffey v. State of Ala. Dept. of Corrections, 996 F.Supp. 1368 (S.D. Ala. 1998).
274:154 Co. and county psychiatrist were not liable for detainee's successful suicide after his release from custody; placing detainee on suicide watch and taking steps to encourage him to agree to take his medication for paranoid schizophrenia did not constitute deliberate indifference. Collignon v. Milwaukee Co., #98-1711, 163 F.3d 982 (7th Cir. 1998).
260:124 Update: Officers were entitled to qualified immunity in prisoner suicide case where they removed shoes with laces, made sure detainee did not have a belt, and also took steps to ensure that detainee could not harm herself with blanket and instructed that a close watch be placed on her; detainee's right to be free from deliberate indifference to suicide risk was "clearly established," but officers acted objectively reasonably. Hare v. City of Corinth, 135 F.3d 320 (5th Cir. 1998).
[N/R] Illinois Tort Immunity Act did not protect sheriff against allegation that he had knowledge that conditions in city jail created a substantial risk of harm to an arrestee, but still ordered deputy to place arrestee, who subsequently committed suicide, in city jail. Payne v. Churchich, No. 97-3344, 161 F.3d 1030 (7th Cir. 1998).
255:42 Officers were not "deliberately indifferent" to risk of suicide by detainee experiencing heroin withdrawal; no signs of suicidal tendencies prior to detainee's suicide. Richardson v. Dailey, 675 N.E.2d 787 (Mass. 1997).
258:89 City was not liable for death of intoxicated arrestee who hung himself in his cell with his jeans; officers acted within the scope of their employment, and performed a discretionary act in good faith in failing to determine that the arrestee was a suicide risk; arrestee's threat to kill himself was only heard by his cellmate and not by officers, who were not in the cell area. Galveston, City of, v. Burns, 949 S.W.2d 881 (Tex. App. 1997).
[N/R] Private doctors and mental health providers were not entitled to qualified immunity from lawsuit based on prisoner's suicide; they were acting as private parties motivated by desire for profit, rather than as governmental agents. McDuffie v. Hopper, 982 F.Supp. 817 (M.D. Ala. 1997).
241:10 Correct legal standard for liability on prisoner suicide was not whether jail officers "knew or should have known" of prisoner's suicide risk, but rather whether they had "actual knowledge of the substantial risk" and responded with "deliberate indifference." Hare v. City of Corinth, 74 F.3d 633 (5th Cir. 1996).
243:41 Prisoner diagnosed as potential suicide risk by medical personnel and prescribed psychotropic drugs stated a claim for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs by asserting that psychiatrist at facility he was transferred to discontinued his medication without evaluating him or reviewing medical records. Steel v. Shah, 87 F.3d 1266 (11th Cir. 1996).
245:75 Doctor's classification of pretrial detainee as "potentially suicidal," rather than "high risk" for suicide was exercise of professional medical judgment and doctor was not liable for detainee's subsequent successful suicide, since no deliberate indifference was shown. Cole, Estate of, by Pardue v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254 (7th Cir. 1996).
[N/R] Suicide of prisoner after suicide watch was called off might be the result of deliberate indifference, based on knowledge of prior suicidal behavior. Robey v. Chester Co., 946 F.Supp. 333 (E.D. Pa. 1996).
[N/R] Law enforcement defendants were entitled to qualified immunity in lawsuit over suicide of prisoner in city jail; no deliberate indifference was shown. Gay v. City of Daleville, 953 F.Supp. 1315 (M.D. Ala. 1996).
234:90 Prisoner's death from swallowing bar of soap was not foreseeable; federal trial court abused its discretion by overturning jury verdict for correctional defendants in civil rights/wrongful death lawsuit. Hardin v. Hayes, 52 F.3d 934 (11th Cir. 1995).
219:42 Jail employees were not entitled to qualified immunity in suit brought by family of detainee who killed herself in jail cell after making suicide threats to interviewing officer; detainee was placed in isolated cell and blanket with which she hung herself was left in cell. Hare v. City of Corinth, Ms., 36 F.3d 412 (5th Cir. 1994).
219:43 Juvenile prisoner who suffered permanent brain damage after hanging himself with a sheet awarded $600,000 in damages against county based on state-law negligence in failure to prevent suicide attempt; failure to take steps to prevent such attempts because of shortage of funds was no defense. Myers v. Co. of Lake, Ind., 30 F.3d 847 (7th Cir. 1994).
220:57 Mere fact that arrestee was intoxicated did not give detention center notice that there was a specific risk she would commit suicide; no "deliberate indifference" to serious medical needs was shown. Hocker, Estate of, v. Walsh, 22 F.3d 995 (10th Cir. 1994).
221:73 Alleged violation of federal statute in placing juvenile detainee in adult jail was not proximate cause of his suicide attempt; federal appeals court rejects argument that juvenile detainees, as a class, are specially susceptible to suicidal tendencies and therefore should be specially screened. Horn v. Madison Co. Fiscal Court, 22 F.3d 653 (6th Cir. 1994).
224:122 Individual jailers were not liable for pre-trial detainee's suicide in his cell when they did not know that he had suicidal tendencies; federal appeals court allows claim against city for alleged inadequate training of jailers to go forward, however. Irwin v. City of Hemet, 27 Cal.Rptr.2d 433 (Cal.App. 1994).
225:138 Co. was not liable for suicide of two prisoners in county jail when jail medical personnel did conduct some screening of prisoners, thus showing no "deliberate indifference" on part of county towards possible prisoner suicide. Tittle v. Jefferson Co. Com'n, 10 F.3d 1535 (11th Cir. en banc 1994).
225:138 Deputy sheriff's alleged statements to prisoner that his fiancee was having "sexual intercourse" with three men, which prisoner claimed drove him to suicide attempt, were insufficient to state claim for violation of constitutional rights. Parsons v. Bd. Cty. Com'rs Marshall Cty., Kan., 873 F.Supp. 542 (D. Kan. 1994).
226:155 Co. and state not entitled to prosecutorial immunity in wrongful death lawsuit brought by deceased prisoner's estate against county prosecutor for alleged failure to notify jail that medical report he received indicated that prisoner had suicidal tendencies. Smith v. Butte-Silver Bow Co., 878 P.2d 870 (Mont. 1994).
[N/R] Father, who was administrator of deceased son's estate, had standing, either as parent or as administrator, to sue correctional officials for damages for son's suicide while in custody. Frey v. City of Herculaneum, Mo., 37 F.3d 1290 (8th Cir. 1994).
Jury awards $500,000 to estate and surviving relatives of jail inmate who committed suicide while in custody; trial judge reduces $450,000 wrongful death portion of award to $100,000 because of a Massachusetts statutory limit on awards against governmental entities for wrongful death. Natriello v. Flynn, 837 F.Supp. 17 (D. Mass. 1993).
Co. was not liable for suicide of young detainee with brain damage and frequent past history of arrests; plaintiff failed to show that county policies led to detainee's suicide. Hood v. Itawamba Co., Mississippi, 819 F.Supp. 556 (N.D. Miss. 1993).
City liable for $237,204 for officers' failure to constantly monitor suicidal prisoner. Estate of Bragado v. City of Zion, U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 15 (Dec. 10, 1993).
City and officers were not liable for violation of civil rights for failing to prevent female detainee arrested for public intoxication from hanging herself in her cell with a garden hose used to wash down jail floors; detainee had not exhibited any suicidal tendencies; defendants might be liable, however, under state law for negligence. Evans v. City of Marlin, Tex., 986 F.2d 104 (5th Cir. 1993).
Texas appeals court orders new trial in jail suicide case; trial judge improperly excluded evidence of negligent training of jailers and negligent screening of prisoners for suicidal tendencies. Alvarado v. City of Brownsville, 865 S.W.2d 148 (Tex. App. 1993).
Deputies at county jail could be sued for failure to follow procedure requiring them to check frequently on suicidal prisoner, but city officers were not liable for making decision to transfer prisoner to county jail after he attempted suicide in city holding cell. Camps v. City of Warner Robins, 823 F.Supp. 724 (M.D. Ga. 1993).
$450,000 settlement in suit by estate of detainee who hung himself to death with long sock after officers prevented his attempt to hang himself with his shirt and left him alone in cell to call ambulance. Langton v. Town of Southington, U.S. Dist. Ct. D. Conn., Nos. 241CV00366 (PCD), 291CV00867 (PCD), Sept. 20, 1993, 37 ATLA L. Rep. 217 (Aug. 1994).
Family of suicidal intoxicated man who killed himself in county jail receives $325,000 settlement from county in wrongful death/civil rights lawsuit. Los Ang. Daily Jour. Verdicts & Settlements, p. 3 (March 25, 1994).
Co. and prison officials not liable for suicide of domestic violence pre-trial detainee with alcohol problems ten minutes after a mental health evaluation failed to find any suicidal tendencies. Herman v. Clearfield Co., Pa., 836 F.Supp. 1178 (W.D. Pa., 1993).
Juvenile detention center was not liable for suicide of thirteen-year-old who hung himself in his room using a bed sheet and a shoelace; no indication of suicidal intent was communicated to the center's personnel. Scott v. State, 618 So.2d 1053 (La. App. 1993).
Florida appeals court holds that question of whether a detainee's suicide attempt was foreseeable should have been decided at trial; suit by detainee who suffered brain damage after suicide attempt reinstated. Schmelz v. Sheriff of Monroe Co., 624 So.2d 298 (Fla. App. 1993).
No liability for jail employees for failing to prevent death of trustee prisoner who died from hanging during "auto-erotic asphyxiation"; officer who discovered hanging body was not deliberately indifferent in failing to attempt artificial resuscitation when he determined that prisoner was already dead. Reed v. Woodruff Co., Ark., 7 F.3d 808 (8th Cir. 1993).
Jury awards $500,000 to estate of jail prisoner who hung himself in his cell while under "suicide watch"; jail assigned other prisoner to watch prisoner under "suicide watch", and allegedly only offered eight hour training course for correctional officers. Natriello v. Flynn, U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Mass., No. 91-40158XX-NG, June 11, 1993, reported in 36 ATLA L. Rep. 368 (Dec. 1993).
Co. was not liable for jail detainee's suicide; detainee's shoelaces had previously been taken away, and it was an individual correctional officer's one-time decision to return the laces to him which allowed him to hang himself with them in his cell. Russell v. Knox Co., 826 F.Supp. 20 (D. Me. 1993).
Officer was not liable for detainee's death from hanging himself with suspenders officer failed to remove; order requiring removal of personal property was for the purpose of protecting all those in custody and did not impose a duty to the individual prisoner. Cooper v. Planthold, 857 S.W.2d 477 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993).
New Hampshire Supreme Court holds that detainee who unsuccessfully attempted suicide in jail can sue city for damages based on allegation that jailers knew of his prior suicide attempts while in custody, yet failed to take reasonable steps to prevent another attempt. Murdock v City of Keene, 623 A.2d 755 (N.H. 1993).
State Commission on Jail Standards was not liable for suicide of inmate at county jail it had previously cited for violation of its standards for adequate care for suicidal prisoners. Valles v. Texas Commission on Jail Standards, 845 S.W.2d 284 (Tex. App. 1992).
Mother of pretrial detainee who committed suicide could sue county for her own injuries allegedly resulting from deprivation of the detainee's constitutional rights, but evidence did not support a claim that the county had a policy of inadequate training of jail staff on the care of suicidal prisoners. Rhyne v. Henderson Co., 973 F.2d 386 (5th Cir. 1992).
Texas state law does not prohibit a wrongful death lawsuit against a county for a jail inmate's suicide while in custody. Mutrux v. Cameron Co., Texas, 809 F.Supp. 510 (S.D. Tex. 1992).
State was not liable for drug overdose suicide of female inmate who prison staff knew was depressed and suicidal, in absence of any evidence of how she obtained the drugs or expert testimony showing that prison staff's measures were not reasonable. Cockrum v. State, 843 S.W.2d 433 (Tenn. App. 1992).
City was not liable for successful suicide of DUI arrestee in the absence of any indication that he had a strong likelihood of taking his own life. Perkowski v. City of Detroit, 794 F.Supp. 223 (E.D. Mich. 1992).
Officer who left station, leaving detainee alone in the cell in which he then hung himself, was not "deliberately indifferent" to risk of suicide when detainee exhibited no signs of suicidal tendencies; city and police chief not liable for failure to offer formal training on suicide prevention when standard procedures required frequent observation of detainees and training would not have aided officer in classifying this detainee as suicide risk. Bowen v. City of Manchester, 966 F.2d 13 (1st Cir. 1992).
Co. was not liable for suicides of two jail inmates on the basis of alleged inadequate training of jail personnel, but might be liable on the basis of alleged "defective condition" of jail cells - an iron bar across each cell's window from which many suicide attempts were made. Tittle v. Jefferson Co. Commission, 966 F.2d 606 (11th Cir. 1992).
Officers were not entitled to qualified immunity in suit over detainee's suicide attempt; detainee's prior arrests and suicide threats raised a factual issue as to whether they actually knew of his suicidal condition and failed to take preventive action. Hall v. Ryan, 957 F.2d 402 (7th Cir. 1992).
Failure to prevent suicide attempt by prisoner on "suicide watch" who tried to hang himself five minutes after officer checked on him was, at most, negligence, and insufficient to establish a federal civil rights claim. Schmelz v. Monroe Co., 954 F.2d 1540 (11th Cir. 1992).
Neither city or individual jail officials were liable for failing to determine that DUI arrestee was a suicide risk or to prevent his suicide. Barber v. City of Salem, Ohio, 953 F.2d 232 (6th Cir. 1992).
Indiana state statute did not provide immunity from negligence claims arising from suicides of two pre-trial detainees. Tittle v. Mahan, 583 N.E.2d 796 (Ind. 1991).
New York court overturns $77,000 negligence award to family of 17-year-old detainee who hanged himself with his T-shirt only eleven minutes after being placed in a holding cell; detainee's conduct did not show suicidal tendencies. Moore v. City of Troy, 577 N.Y.S.2d 969 (A.D. 1992).
Court correctly refused to give jury instructions that would have based civil rights liability for jail suicide on negligent failure to detect suicidal intent or to prevent suicide. York v. City of Detroit, 438 Mich. 744, 475 N.W.2d 346 (1991). Co. and jail officials were not liable for detainee's jail suicide despite his earlier suicide attempt when incarcerated there three years before. Hinkfuss v. Shawano Co., 772 F.Supp. 1104 (E.D. Wis. 1991).
City and officers liable for $1.104 million for failure to prevent suicide of intoxicated detainee; city policy of inadequate training on suicide prevention established basis for municipal liability. Simmons v. City of Philadelphia, 947 F.2d 1042 (3rd Cir. 1991).
Co., sheriff and correctional officer were not liable for failing to prevent suicide of prisoner taken off of "suicide watch" after he told social worker he was "no longer" contemplating killing himself. Leshore v. Co. of Worcester, 945 F.2d 471 (1st Cir. 1991).
Failure to charge air vents, from which a prisoner had hung himself three years earlier, did not make jail officials liable for another prisoner's suicide when he hung himself from the same vents; further hearings ordered on whether delay in arraignment helped cause the death. Wayland v. City of Springdale, Ark., 933 F.2d 668 (8th Cir. 1991).
Officer's failure to turn on television camera to view holdover cell was not "deliberate indifference"; officers were not liable for failing to prevent prisoner's suicide. Christian v. Stanczak, 769 F.Supp. 317 (E.D. Mo. 1991).
Correctional officer may have been deliberately indifferent to mentally disturbed detainee's suicide, if she had specific knowledge of his suicide threats and of his behavior of headbanging. Elliott v. Cheshire Co., N.H., 940 F.2d 7 (1st Cir. 1991).
City was not liable for suicide of prisoner when jail authorities had no reason to anticipate that prisoner would attempt to kill himself. Popham v. City of Talladega, 582 So.2d 541 (Ala. 1991).
Prison officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for failing to prevent inmate's suicide after his anti-depression medication was abruptly discontinued. Greason v. Kemp, 891 F.2d 829 (11th Cir. 1990).
Two officers liable to family of detainee who hanged himself in jail after being taken into custody to prevent him killing himself; county and police chief were not liable for failure to train officers in suicide prevention. Buffington v. Baltimore Co., Md., 913 F.2d 113 (4th Cir. 1990, cert. denied, 111 S.Ct. 1106 (1991).
State has the right and duty to force feed prisoner who wanted to starve himself to death. Dept. of Public Welfare v. Kallinger, 580 A.2d 887 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1990).
City was not liable for suicide of detainee; even if hourly inspections required by jail manual had been conducted, suicide in detainee's first hour of incarceration would not have been prevented; city not required to provide training for psychological screening of detainees for suicidal tendencies. Burns v. City of Galveston, Texas, 905 F.2d 100 (5th Cir. 1990).
Failure to train jail personnel to screen detainees for suicidal tendencies rejected as basis for liability for detainee's suicide; standard procedures followed by jail personnel prior to suicide showed lack of deliberate indifference. Popham v. City of Talladega, 908 F.2d 1561 (11th Cir. 1990).
Officers were not liable for failure to remove intoxicated detainee's belt and shoelaces; entitled to qualified immunity for detainee's suicide. Belcher v. Oliver, 898 F.2d 32 (4th Cir. 1990).
Jury awards $175,000 to estate of intoxicated detainee, former mental patient, who hung himself in his cell with his underpants. Safian v. Village of Palatine, No. 84L 10056, Cook Co. Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois, reported in Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, p. 3, July 31, 1990.
Sheriff and officers not liable for attempted suicide of intoxicated detainee after they violated jail policy by failing to remove his boot laces. Hamlin v. Kennebec Co. Sheriff's Dept., 728 F.Supp. 804 (D. Maine 1990).
City liable for failure to train officer in suicide prevention for detainees; officer also liable for negligence in suicide of intoxicated detainee. Simmons v. City of Philadelphia, 728 F.Supp. 352 (E.D. Pa. 1990).
Jail warden liable for punitive damages for ordering solitary confinement without precautions for suicidal prisoner. Lewis v. Parish of Terrebonne, 894 F.2d 142 (5th Cir. 1990).
Officers, city, not liable for suicide of pre-trial detainee, despite records of prior attempts and officers' failure to remove belt. Williams v. Borough of West Chester, Pa., 891 F.2d 458 (3rd Cir. 1989).
Jury awards $1 million to family of detainee who committed suicide in holding cell after arrest for public intoxication. Simmons, Estate of v. City of Philadelphia, No. 87-3258, U.S. District Court, Philadelphia, Pa., reported in Personal Injury Verdict Reviews, No. 26, P. 4 (Feb. 12, 1990).
Sheriff and jailor were entitled to qualified immunity on suit concerning prisoner's suicide, even though medical history sheet showed earlier suicide attempt. Rellergert v. Cape Girardieu Co., Mo., 724 F.Supp. 662 (E.D. Mo. 1989).
Municipality was not liable for detainee's suicide in jail cell on allegation of inadequate training of officers. Dorman v. District of Columbia, 888 F.2d 159 (D.C. Cir. 1989).
Police Chief was not liable for suicide of intoxicated prisoner in jail cell; no duty to install surveillance system. Capodagli v. Wilson, 536 N.E.2d 135 (Ill. App. 1989).
Man who tried to hang himself in jail receives $100,000 settlement on claim that officers should have taken away his belt. Driscoll v. City of Irvine, reported in Orange Co. Register, Santa Ana, Calif., July 7, 1989.
Supplying a safety razor to pretrial detainee who committed suicide did not show deliberate indifference; no liability for prisoner who hung himself. Boyd v. Harper, 702 F.Supp. 578 (E.D. Va. 1988).
Prison officials not liable for suicide by juvenile inmate who had made no prior threats. Edwards v. Gilbert, 867 F.2d 1271 (11th Cir. 1989).
Failure of jail officials to recognize scars on inmate as "suicide hesitation cuts" amounted only to negligence which could not make them liable for his suicide death. Freedman v. City of Allentown, Pa., 853 F.2d 111 (3d Cir. 1988).
Family of man who hung himself in jail to receive $196,700; was not placed in observation cell despite fashioning rope from shirt earlier. Albery v. City of Euclid, Cuyahoga Co. Common Pleas, reported in Cleveland Ohio Plain Dealer, November 30, 1988.
Mother of prisoner who starved himself to death could not recover damages from sheriff and director of corrections absent allegations of policy or personal involvement. Geter v. Wille, 846 F.2d 1352 (11th Cir. 1988).
Reckless indifference to a pretrial detainee's risk of suicide can support federal civil rights claim. Colburn v. Upper Darby Tp., 838 F.2d 663 (3d Cir. 1988).
City not liable for injuries detainee suffered when he plunged headfirst into toilet bowl. Gordon v. City of New York, 517 N.E.2d 1331 (N.Y. 1987).
Prison not liable when inmate hung himself; inmate's shirt was not "machinery" for purposes of tort claims act. Silva v. State, 745 P.2d 1160 (N.M. Ap. 1986).
Allegation that prisoner was placed in separate cell without supervision after repeated suicide threats stated claim for "indifference" to medical needs. Seiler v. City of Bethany, 746 P.2d 699 (Okla. App. 1987).
Allegation that officers knew of detainee's suicidal tendencies but failed to take precautions stated civil rights claim; supervisors could be held liable for failure to provide training or establish procedures for suicide prevention. Danese v. Asman, 670 F.Supp. 709 (E.D. Mich. 1987).
Officer's failure to remove belt of prisoner who used it to hang himself while violation of policy, was not constitutional violation. Gagne v. City of Galveston, 671 F.Supp. 1130 (S.D. Tex. 1987).
City could be liable for suicide of intoxicated pretrial detainee. Beddingfield v. City of Pulaski, Tennessee, 666 F.Supp. 1064 (M.D. Tenn. 1987).
Placing intoxicated arrestee in regular cell not a constitutional violation; no liability under federal law for suicide. Smith v. City of Westland, 404 N.W.2d 214 (Mich. App. 1986).
Failure to follow department rule in ministerial task does not preclude immunity. Gagne v. City of Galveston, 805 F.2d 558 (5th Cir. 1986).
Individuals liable for breaking rules and ignoring cries of suicide attempt. Miga v. City of Holyoke, 497 N.E.2d 1 (Mass. 1986).
Jail accused of not meeting standards. Tsosie v. San Juan Co., Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah 5/15/86. Allegations that understaffing and underfunding resulted in suicide states a civil rights claim. Strandell v. Jackson Co., Ill., 634 F.Supp. 824 (S.D. Ill. 1986).
Fifth Circuit reverses and allows claim based on allegations that a policy was responsible for suicide. Partridge v. Two Unknown Police Officers of Houston, 791 F.2d 1182 (5th Cir. 1986).
Court reverses $1 million judgment and finds no liability for not restraining loud arrestee. Gordon v. City of New York, 502 N.Y.S.2d 215 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1986).
One year statute of limitations for suicide by hanging. Maurice v. Stoddard, 496 N.Y.S.2d (A.D. 3 Dept. 1985).
On the third time hearing this case, court rules police chief not entitled to individual immunity from liability for jail hanging. Young v. City of Ann Arbor, 382 N.W.2d 785 (Mich. App. 1985).
Jail hanging results in $2.4 million award. Crime Control Digest, Vol. 20 No. 29, July 21, 1986; and the Detention Reporter, Number 33 July 1986.
Parents suit over son's suicide within 30 minutes of confinement to continue. Strandberg v. City of Helena, 791 F.2d 744 (9th Cir. 1986).
Judgment for $75,000 against state reversed. Hampton v. State of Michigan, 377 N.W.2d 920 (Mich. App. 1985).
Shackling inmate thought to be suicidal may have been improper. Wells v. Franzen, 777 F.2d 1258 (7th Cir. 1985).
Intoxicated man hung himself inside cell. Holland v. Breen, 623 F.Supp. 284 (D.C. Mass. 1985).
CPR training qualifies one as expert on rescue attempts; no professional license required. Hake v. Manchester, Tp., 486 A.2d 836 (N.J. 1985).
Officials accused of not checking past jail records indicating suicidal tendencies. Partidge v. Two Unknown Police Officers, 751 F.2d 1448 (5th Cir. 1985).
Jailers hearing suicide threats not grounds for liability. Estate of Cartwright v. City of Concord, Cal., 618 F.Supp. 722 (D.C. Cal. 1985).
Jury to decide deputies' negligence in jail suicide following family's warnings. Hemly v. Bebber, 335 S.E.2d 182 (N.C. App. 1985).
Real cause of suicide is that detainee no longer wished to live, not any negligence on the part of officials; unusual dress not reason to suspect suicide. Horne v. Beason, 331 S.E.2d 342 (S.C. 1985).
Failure to admit medical review commission's report grounds for new trial; arrestee hung himself with socks. Dozlowski v. City of Amsterdam, 488 N.Y.S.2d 862 (A.D. 3 Dept. 1985).
Acts or omissions could hold city liable for suicide; officers accused of beating mentally ill arrestee. Madden v. City of Meriden, 602 F.Supp. 1160 (D. Conn. 1985).
Intoxicated arrestee's suicide blamed on inadequate jail design and supervision. Lightbody v. Town of Hampton, 618 F.Supp. 6 (D.C. N.H. 1984).
Detroit settles for $275,000 for suicide of arrestee who was initially stopped for no apparent reason. Martin v. City of Detroit, Detroit Free Press, 1/22/85.
Refusal to listen to boys screams could result in liability for his suicide. Brewer v. Perrin, 349 N.W.2d 198 (Mich. App. 1984).
Officials could be liable for inmate suicide with shoestring. Guglielmoni v. Alexander, 583 F.Supp. 512 (E.D. Pa. 1984).
Mental inability to bring suit tolls statute of limitations. Smith by and Through Smith v. City of Reno, 580 F.Supp. 591 (D. Nev. 1984).
Failure to take extra precautions for intoxicated prisoner could result in liability for suicide. Kanayurak v. Northslope Borough, 677 P.2d 893 (Alaska 1984).
Use of dog during arrest may constitute excessive force resulting in officers and city being liable; city and county may be liable for arrestee's suicide attempt resulting from poor county jail conditions. Soto v. City of Sacramento, 567 F.Supp. 662 (E.D. Cal. 1983).
No liability for officer's failure to handcuff arrestee who shot himself when helping them search house for stolen items. Langford v. City of Leesville, 442 So.2d 1375 (La. App. 1983).
No liability for jail suicide; no right for inmate to make telephone call to lawyer. State Bank of St. Charles v. Camic, 712 F.2d 1140 (7th Cir. 1983). No liability to police chief for arrestee's suicide. Young v. City of Ann Arbor, 336 N.W.2d 24 (Mich. App. 1983).
No liability for jail suicide committed with belt. Dezort v. Village of Hinsdale, 441 N.E.2d 367 (Ill. App. 1982).
Recovery under Section 1983 on theory of negligence denied to parent of suicide victim. Meshkov v. Abington Township, 517 F.Supp. 1280 (E.D. Pa. 1981).
Florida sheriff who violated administrative rule held liable for inmate's suicide. Robert v. Stokley, 388 So.2d 1267 (Fla. App. 1980).
Florida Appellate Court rules that sheriff's office was not liable for suicide of an inmate who hung himself with his belt. Guice v. Enfinger, 389 So.2d 270 (Fla. 1980).
Michigan court dismisses Section 1983 suit by relatives of prisoner who hung himself while incarcerated in city jail. Moomey v. City of Holland, 490 F.Supp. 188 (1980).
Inmate's suicide attempt is not contributory negligence; state corrections manual is inadmissible on issue of county jail official's duty to inmate. Cole v. Multnomah Co., 592 P.2d 221 (Ore. App. 1979).
Court orders new trial in civil rights suit due to possible altering of cell check log after inmate committed suicide. Swietlowich v. Co. of Buck, 610 F.2d 1157 (3rd Cir. 1979).
Court orders retrial in action brought for attempted suicide of youth at correctional facility; state not liable in money damages for constitutional violations. Figueroa v. State, 604 P.2d 1198 (Hawaii, 1978).
Jail officials entitled to instruction on decedent's contributory negligence and on intervening causation in wrongful death suit. Harrell v. City of Belen, 603 P.2d 722 (N.M. 1979).
Supreme Court holds that a law enforcement agency cannot avoid liability for a suicide by placing a prisoner in a county jail, under a contractual arrangement. Logue v. U.S., #72-656, 412 U.S. 521 (1973). [N/R]
Back to list of subjects Back to Legal Publications Menu