AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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Defenses: Settlement Offers
officer was entitled to an award of costs against a prisoner who was awarded
damages against him in a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that he
was falsely accused of threatening a guard and was thereafter mistreated,
including being subjected to frequent strip searches. The prisoner had
sued a number of correctional employees, including the officer, and all
defendants had offered to settle the lawsuit for a $10,000 lump sum, along
with attorneys' fees and costs, making a settlement offer under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 68. The prisoner rejected that offer, and was later
awarded, against the officer alone, an amount of damages less than the
amount of the settlement offer--$1 in nominal damages and $500 in punitive
damages. While the prisoner, as a prevailing plaintiff, was entitled to
attorneys' fees and costs expended before the making of the offer, the
officer was entitled to costs incurred after the offer was rejected, in
the absence of the plaintiff prisoner achieving greater success. The court
ruled that the cost shifting mechanism of Rule 68 applied despite the fact
that the settlement offer had been made by multiple defendants, King v.
Rivas, No. 08-1557, 2009 U.S. App. Lexis 1820 (1st Cir.).
299:163 Award of $10 in damages to prisoner for violation of his religious right to receive a pork-free diet could be set off against his liability to the county for costs arising out of the same lawsuit; federal court does not reach restitution issue. Rinaldo v. Corbett, No. 99-10801, 256 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2001).
290:29 Woman arrested for misdemeanor who was subjected to strip and body cavity searches without any reasonable suspicion that she possessed weapons or contraband was properly awarded $19,465 in compensatory damages, but city could not be held liable for the $5 million in punitive damages that the jury awarded. Ciraolo v. City of N.Y., #99-7550, 216 F.3d 236 (2nd Cir.), cert. denied, 121 S. Ct. 484 (2000).
EDITOR'S NOTE: On remand to the trial court, it also awarded the plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees and costs of $19,116.45, reflecting the costs and attorneys' fees incurred before the defendants made a pre-trial offer of judgment of $25,000 plus reasonable attorneys fees. This offer was made formally under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68. Because the plaintiff did not accept it, and was ultimately awarded a smaller amount of damages ($19,645) after appeal, their right to recover additional attorneys' fees and costs following that rejection were cut off. Further, the defendants were awarded $8,038.40 for necessary costs they incurred after the rejection of their offer. Ciraolo v. City of New York, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14940 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
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