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Defenses: Qualified (Good-Faith) Immunity
Monthly Law Journal Article: An Introduction to
Qualified Immunity as a Defense in Prisoner Civil Rights Litigation – Part 1. 2017 (12) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
Monthly Law Journal Article: An Introduction to
Qualified Immunity as a Defense in Prisoner Civil Rights Litigation – Part 2,
2018 (1) AELE Mo. L. J. 301.
A federal appeals court agreed with the
trial court that an inmate’s due process rights were violated when correctional
officials assigned him as a pretrial detainee to administrative segregation
without an individualized assessment of his risk to institutional security, but
the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. It was not clearly
established that a substantive due process violation would result from the
plaintiff’s placement in administrative segregation based solely on his prior
assignment to (and failure to complete) administrative segregation. In this
case, he was discharged from administrative segregation and released, arrested
again on new drug-related offenses, and then re-admitted into administrative
segregation. Allah v. Milling, #16-1443, 2017 U.S. App. Lexis 23631 (2nd Cir.).
Prison officials were
not entitled to qualified immunity on a prisoner’s claim that they retaliated
against him for filing a grievance by imposing disciplinary charges against him
in violation of his First Amendment rights. While no prior published Fourth
Circuit decision directly addressed whether filing a grievance was protected
First Amendment conduct, the right was clearly established based on general
constitutional principles or a consensus of persuasive authority. In this case,
the inmate’s right was found to have been clearly established based on the
Second, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits all
recognizing in published decisions that inmates possess a First Amendment's Petition
Clause right to be free from retaliation in response to filing a prison
grievance. Booker v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, #15-7679, 855 F.3d 533, (4th Cir. 2017).
inmate claimed that officials violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment
rights by improperly censoring and confiscating his mail. The trial court
failed to issue a ruling as to whether an official was entitled to qualified
immunity. When a defendant official properly and timely files a motion for
dismissal or for summary judgment asserting qualified immunity as a defense,
they are entitled to a reviewable order either granting or denying qualified
immunity before being required to progress further in the litigation. The trial
court was ordered to issue such a ruling. Payne v. Britten, #12-3872, 2014 U.S.
App. Lexis 7055 (8th Cir.).
A prisoner claimed that a correctional officer
used excessive force against him, assaulting him for approximately two minutes
and knocking his head against a gate before moving him to a holding cell. A
federal appeals court held that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity
because the prisoner suffered no more than de minimus (minimal) injuries, if
that, and combined with the lack of extraordinary circumstances, this did not
violate any clearly established Eighth Amendment right in the Fourth Circuit in
2007, the date of the incident. Hill v. Crum, #12-6705, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis
16848 (4th Cir.). Editor's Note: The requirement of more than de minimus injury
was rejected after the date of this incident by the U.S. Supreme Court in
Wilkins v. Gaddy, #08-10914, 130 S, Ct. 1175 (2010).
After a prisoner was visited by his fiancée, his
undergarments tested positive for cocaine and bottles were found in his cell
that tested positive for methamphetamine. Prison authorities placed him on
contraband watch for six days until he had three bowel movements. These bowel
movements did not reveal drugs. Rejecting the argument that placing him on
contraband watch had been cruel and unusual punishment, a federal appeals court
ruled that the law at the time (April-May 2002) did not clearly establish that
the types of measures prison officials took were unconstitutional, especially
given the important purpose of discovering contraband. The defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity. Chappell v. Mandeville, #09-16251, 2013 U.S. App. Lexis
2192 (9th 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.).
Former prisoners of state and city prisons in New
York claimed that their due process rights were violated because they were kept
incarcerated past the end of their court ordered sentences. Because there was
no clearly established law concerning the issue of whether such prolonged
incarceration violated due process, the defendant city and state prison
officials and employees were entitled to qualified immunity from personal
liability. The court emphasized that its decision did not
"trivialize" the prisoners' protected liberty interest in being
released from custody promptly after their sentences were concluded. Sudler v.
City of New York, #11–1198, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 16438 (2nd Cir.).
A man who was sentenced to an alcohol treatment
program on a DUI conviction was mistakenly held instead in jail for a month
before the error in interpreting the sentencing order was discovered. He sued a
number of correctional employees for alleged violations of his Fourth, Fifth,
Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights in falsely imprisoning him. The trial
court denied the defendants' motions for qualified immunity. The appeals court
found that the trial judge erred by failing to make a detailed analysis of
whether each defendant was entitled to qualified immunity on each of the
constitutional claims and therefore ordered further proceedings. Handt v.
Lynch, #11-1829, 681 F.3d 939 (8th Cir. 2012).
A prisoner held in administrative segregation
claimed that officials gave only "perfunctory" review, if any at all,
as to whether prisoner behavior had improved. Such improvement was supposed to
be the basis for promotion to a less restrictive level in the six-level
administrative segregation system. The appeals court stated that it believed
that "if a prison system wishes to encourage better behavior by
implementing a stratified incentive program that involves an atypical and
significant hardship, it must provide meaningful individualized review to
prisoners to help them progress through the program." The defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity from liability, however, since, at the time of
the controversy, it was not clearly established that the review process should
apply through all the program's levels or that the perfunctory reviews given at
the first three levels or lack of any review at all on levels 4-6 would not be
considered meaningful. Toevs v. Reid, #10–1535, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 7994
A prisoner was sentenced as a habitual offender on his
conviction for lewd and indecent acts on the basis of a prior rape conviction.
The sentence was for "perpetual imprisonment for treatment until his
rehabilitation, to last a minimum of twelve years." But he was not
released until 27 years in custody, 15 years later than when he was eligible
for release. He claimed that prison officials were liable for keeping him
in custody beyond his lawful term of imprisonment, and that he ceased needing
additional therapy treatment long before he was released. The defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity because the prisoner failed to show that any of
them individually were linked to specific acts that prevented him from being
released earlier. Feliciano-Hernandez v. Pereira-Castillo, #11–1052, 663 F.3d
527 (1st Cir. 2011).
A prisoner was held longer than he should have
been, and argued that, had prison officials checked court records, they would
have noticed that he was ordered to serve concurrent rather than consecutive
sentences, and released him sooner. The defendants were entitled to qualified
immunity, since there was no clearly established case law imposing a duty on
them to review a prisoner's original court records "beyond those in his
institutional file." Alston v. Read, #10-15332, 2011 U.S. App. Lexis 24741
A former prisoner in an Ohio facility claimed
that a correctional officer had sexually assaulted her on two consecutive
nights, and sued two superintending prison officers, a case manager on her
living unit, and a prison investigator. She claimed that the case manager
failed to take any action to prevent the second assault after she reported the
first one, and that the investigator retaliated against her for her accusations
by placing her, shackled and handcuffed, in solitary confinement in a cell
without adequate heat, clothing, bedding, or blankets. The trial court denied
the defendants summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, finding
that there were disputed material issues of fact, and the defendants did not
appeal that ruling. After a full trial, a jury awarded the plaintiff $350,000
in compensatory and punitive damages against the case manager and $275,000
against the investigator. The defendants did not then file a motion seeking
judgment as a matter of law after the verdict, nor did they seek a new trial.
Instead, they argued, on appeal, that the trial court should have granted their
motion for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. A federal
appeals court agreed, and reversed the jury's verdict. The U.S. Supreme Court
disagreed, reversing the appeals court, and holding that a party may not appeal
a denial of summary judgment after a district court has conducted a full trial
on the merits. There was no "purely legal" issue of qualified
immunity preserved for appeal, as the dispute was not over what the
pre-existing law was, but instead what the facts were--such as whether the case
manager was adequately informed, after the first attack, of the assailant's
identity. The defendants could not argue, on appeal, that the plaintiff had not
proven her case, as they failed to raise an issue of the sufficiency of the
evidence by a post-judgment motion for judgment as a matter of law. Ortiz v.
Jordan, #09–737, 2011 U.S. Lexis 915.
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000cc et seq. became "clearly
established law" when it was signed into law, so that prison officials
were required to follow the law, and were not entitled to qualified immunity
for allegedly confiscating several religious publications received by the
plaintiff prisoner prior to when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in
2005 definitively declaring that the RLUIPA was constitutional. The
confiscations took place in May and June of 2003, and in November of 2003, a
panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the RLUIPA was unconstitutional,
a ruling later rejected by the Supreme Court. The court noted that the Sixth
Circuit decision occurred after the alleged actions, and therefore could not be
used by the prison officials to obtain qualified immunity at a time when the statute
was "presumptively constitutional." Figel v. Overton, No. 06-2199,
2008 U.S. App. Lexis 3311 (6th Cir.).
Because Maine statutes clearly made a prison a
state facility, a federal civil rights claim against a corrections
superintendent in his official capacity was a claim against the state, and was
barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. Under a state statute, however, the
prisoner could pursue an individual capacity claim for the superintendent's
alleged deliberate indifference to his health and safety on the basis of an
attack by a fellow inmate. Nilson-Borrill v. Burnheimer, Civil No. 07-98-P-H,
2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 65025 (D. Maine).
While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit in 2004 ruled that prison policies prohibiting all prisoner access to
mail containing materials downloaded from the internet was unconstitutional in
Clement v. California Department of Corrections, #03-15006, 364 F.3d 1148 (9th
Cir. 2004), there was no clearly established law on the subject in 2001, when
this plaintiff prisoner's mail containing such materials was returned, so that
the prison warden was entitled to qualified immunity. Butler v. Yarborough, No.
03-5420, 2007 U.S. Dist. Lexis 56667 (E.D. Cal.).
In inmates' lawsuit claiming that, while
being transported, they were subjected for 10 to 15 hours in restraints so
tight that many of them were injured and were denied access to water, defendant
officers were entitled to qualified immunity, because the law on the use of
severely tight restrains and denial of water for an extended period being
constitutional violations was not "clearly established" until two
years after the incident in question, in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Hope v.
Pelzer, #01-309, 536 U.S. 730 (2002). Anderson-Bey v. District of Columbia, No.
00-2000, 2006 U.S. Dist. Lexis 88891 (D.D.C.). [N/R]
In a prisoner's lawsuit claiming that prison
officials violated his First Amendment rights by refusing to allow him to
organize an atheist study group, federal trial court finds that defendant
officials were entitled to qualified immunity from liability for damages since
it was not clearly established at the time of the denial, 2002, that atheism
was a "religion," and the prisoner did not tell the defendants that
he was a member of any non-theistic belief system, such as secular humanism,
which had previously been held to be protected by the First Amendment's free
exercise of religion clause. Kaufman v. McCaughtry, No. 03-C-027, 422 F. Supp.
2d 1016 (W.D. Wis. 2006). [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]
Federal appeals court overturns ruling that
defendant prison officials waived their defense of qualified immunity to
plaintiff prisoner's claim under federal statute concerning religious freedom
by failing to raise it in their answer to his complaint. The defense was
sufficiently raised in their motion for summary judgment, despite the failure
to specifically mention the statute in relationship to qualified immunity.
Ahmad v. Furlong, No. 04-1450 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 1098 (10th Cir.). [2006
Correctional officers were not entitled to
qualified immunity on claim that they continued to use force against detainee
after they had subdued him, resulting in his death from positional asphyxia.
They were also not entitled to qualified immunity on the claim that they waited
fourteen minutes after he became unconscious and stopped breathing, to summon
medical assistance. Bozeman v. Orum, No. 04-11073, 422 F.3d 1265 (11th Cir.
2005). [2006 JB Feb]
Federal trial court abused its discretion in
denying defendant prison officials' motion for summary judgment on the basis of
qualified immunity as untimely in prisoner's lawsuit claiming that they were
deliberately indifferent to threats of physical violence against prisoners.
This motion, filed within three weeks of the court's motion ruling on a motion
to dismiss, and one week before trial, was not clearly untimely because no
local rule or court order clearly provided the officials with a specific
deadline for filing the motion, and the officials therefore did not have
adequate notice that their motion would be untimely if filed when it was.
Further proceedings ordered on defendant officials' motion. Moore v. Cockrell,
No. 04-40474, 144 Fed. Appx. 397 (5th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
Prison mail room supervisor was not entitled to
qualified immunity when there were disputed issues of fact as to whether she
intentionally did not send the prisoner's legal mail to a court, resulting in
the denial of his request that the court appoint him a lawyer in his
post-conviction proceeding. This conduct, if true, would violate the prisoner's
clearly established right of access to the courts. Geitz v. Overall, No.
04-3999, 137 Fed. Appx. 927 (8th Cir. 2005). [N/R]
California health care manager was not entitled
to qualified immunity in lawsuit by prisoner with Hepatitis C claiming that a
one year delay in providing a liver biopsy after it was approved constituted
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. If the facts were as the
prisoner claimed, this action would violate clearly established law. Tatum v.
Winslow, #04-15557, 122 Fed. Appx. 309 (9th Cir. 2005). [2005 JB Sep]
Ohio state prison regulations limiting inmates'
visits to the law library, but not their access to library materials, while
they were placed on cell isolation were justified by legitimate penological
interests in punishing prisoners who violate institutional rules. Federal
appeals court finds, therefore, that even if these regulations did, in fact,
result in actual injury to a prisoner's pending case attempting to pursue a
collateral appeal of his sentence, this was inadequate to show an
unconstitutional denial of access to the courts. Further, even if the denial of
access was a clearly established violation of the prisoner's right of access to
the courts, the prison librarian and library administrator did not know of his
deadline for filing a state court motion for reconsideration of his challenge
to his sentence, and were therefore entitled to qualified immunity, since
"no reasonable jury could find that the defendants knew or should have known
their conduct violated, or even arguably violated" the prisoner's
constitutional rights. Colvin v. Schaublin, No. 03-4368, 113 Fed. Appx. 655
(6th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Deputy who allegedly failed to go investigate
after prisoner pushed an "emergency" button in his cell was not
entitled to qualified immunity in prisoner's lawsuit claiming that this
inaction allowed his cellmate, then holding a razor to his neck, to proceed
with a physical assault and anal rape. Velez v. Johnson, No. 04-1943, 2005 U.S.
App. Lexis 588 (7th Cir.). [2005 JB Mar]
It was clearly established law that deliberately
holding a prisoner in custody beyond a statutorily prescribed mandatory release
date violated the prisoner's constitutional rights, so that Wisconsin
Department of Corrections employees accused of keeping a prisoner incarcerated
for 377 days beyond that date were not entitled to qualified immunity. Allen v.
Guerrero, No. 03-1356, 688 N.W.2d 673 (Wis. App. 2004). [N/R]
Prisoner's complaint adequately alleged deliberate
indifference to his condition of Hepatitis C in asserting that he was denied
treatment because of a possibility that he might be paroled in less than 12
months, which did not come to pass. Defendants failed to meet their burden, in
a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, asserting qualified immunity,
that there was no way that the prisoner could prove his case. McKenna v.
Wright, No. 04-0492, 386 F.3d 432 (2nd Cir. 2004). [2005 JB Jan]
Correctional officer was entitled to qualified
immunity from liability in a lawsuit against him for failing to intervene, and
instead running to get help, when a prisoner he was escorting back to his cell
was stabbed to death by another prisoner. There was no clearly established
constitutional right to have the officer immediately intervene rather than
summoning assistance. Rios v. Scott, No. 03-41088, 100 Fed. Appx. 270 (5th Cir.
Five correctional employees allegedly responsible
for continued incarceration of prisoner for 57 days after a court ordered him
released were not entitled to qualified immunity from his federal civil rights
lawsuit. A sixth employee, whose sole involvement was failing to investigate
further when the prisoner returned from court without a required form, was
granted qualified immunity by appeals court. Davis v. Hall, #02-3923 2004 U.S.
App. Lexis 14385 (8th Cir.). [2004 JB Sep]
Prison guard was not entitled to qualified
immunity on the claim that he filed a false misconduct ticket against a
prisoner in retaliation for his "jailhouse lawyering" activity. Law
prohibiting such retaliation for exercise of First Amendment rights was clearly
established. Scott v. Churchill, No. 03-2427, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 15269 (6th
Cir.). [2004 JB Sep]
Trial court properly denied correctional
employees qualified immunity on prisoner's due process claims that he was not
provided with proper notice of the charges and the evidence relied on in
connection with his prison disciplinary hearing, but should have granted them
qualified immunity on prisoner's claim that evidence presented was insufficient
to support a finding of guilt. Sira v. Morton, No. 03-0156, 2004 U.S. App.
Lexis 15897 (2d Cir.). [2004 JB Sep]
Prison official was entitled to qualified
immunity against prisoner's claim that he used excessive force against him when
handcuffing him, resulting in a lacerated wrist and injured thumb. The prisoner
admitted that he violated facility cuffing procedures by withdrawing his
uncuffed hand and disobeying the officer's orders, and defendant reasonably
believed that the plaintiff prisoner was trying to pull the cuffs into his cell
in order to possibly use them as a weapon. Avery v. Anderson, No. 03-4213, 94
Fed. Appx. 735 (10th Cir. 2004). [N/R]
Correctional officers were entitled to qualified
immunity for failing to protect prisoner from an attack by his cellmate when
there was no evidence that anyone, including the plaintiff himself, believed
that he was in danger from the cellmate until the attack actually occurred.
Berry v. Sherman, No. 03-2828, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 7927 (8th Cir. 2004). [2004
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]
It is clearly established, for purposes of
qualified immunity, that a prison could violate the Eighth Amendment by
deliberate indifference to a prisoner's exposure to unreasonable levels of
environmental tobacco smoke (second-hand smoke). Genuine issue of fact as to
whether a reasonable corrections officer could disagree as to whether officer's
alleged smoking in law library violated prisoner's rights barred summary
judgment for officer in prisoner's lawsuit. Gill v. Smith, 283 F. Supp. 2d 763
(N.D.N.Y. 2003). [N/R]
Federal court properly rejected prisoner's
federal civil rights claim since the First Amendment rights of inmates to
receive commercial bulk mail was not "clearly established" when he
was refused receipt of a "Green Lantern" comic book, so that prison
officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Court upholds rejection of other
magazines with sexual ads or "role-playing content." Further proceedings
ordered, however, on state law free speech claims. Bahrampour v. Lamper,
#02-3519, 356 F.3d 969 (9th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB May]
Orthopedic surgeon was not entitled to qualified
immunity on prisoner's claim that he deliberately failed to schedule him for
needed shoulder surgery for almost two years and also knew that an excessive
delay might cause permanent disability. Benjamin v. Schwartz, 299 F. Supp. 2d
196 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Even if correctional officer shot and killed the
wrong prisoner during violent prison yard fight between two rival gangs, his
use of deadly force to break up the disturbance was reasonable and he was
entitled to qualified immunity for claims brought by the prisoner's estate.
Torres v. Runyon, #02-15273, 80 Fed. Appx. 594 (9th Cir. 2003). [2004 JB Apr]
Sheriff was entitled to qualified immunity on
claims that pre-trial detainee who suffered head injuries was improperly denied
medical attention. There was no showing that sheriff inadequately supervised
his subordinates, and there was no claim that there were any prior incidents in
which jail employees failed to give needed medical care to detainees. Layman v.
Alexander, 294 F. Supp. 2d 784 (W.D.N.C. 2003). [N/R]
Prison officials violated prisoners' rights by requiring
them, as a condition of prison employment, to waive any property rights to
accrued interest on their inmate trust accounts, and violated prisoners' due
process rights by confiscating this interest despite a state statute entitling
them to the interest, when no procedure was provided to contest the loss.
Officials had qualified immunity from liability for the seizure of interest,
however, as prisoners' rights were not clearly established, but not for
retaliating against prisoners for refusal to waive the interest. Vance v.
Barrett, No. 01-15819, 345 F.3d 1083 (9th Cir. 2003).[2004 JB Feb]
Federal appeals court rules that the issue of
which mail is "legal mail" which should only be opened in the
prisoner's presence, after they request this, should not have been submitted to
a jury, but rather decided by a judge. Jury award of $13,000 is reduced to
$3,000 for the improper opening of three letters from a prisoner's attorney
outside his presence. While mail from courts is also found to be "legal
mail," prison mail clerks were entitled to qualified immunity for the
opening of such letters, since the law on the subject was not previously
clearly established. Sallier v. Brooks, No. 01-12269, 343 F.3d 868 (6th Cir.
2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Equally divided federal appeals court upholds, by
4-4 vote, that Rhode Island prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity for conducting allegedly illegal blanket strip and visual body cavity
searches of misdemeanant arrestees without particularized suspicion at a
maximum-security prison. Judges disagree as to whether it was clearly
established, at the time of the searches in 2000. Savard v. Rhode Island, No.
02-1568, 338 F.3d 23 (1st Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Dec]
Prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity
from liability on claim that they violated detainee's procedural due process
rights by denying fingerprint analysis of a shank found in his cell, which he
was disciplined for possessing. Prisoner claimed that shank was planted there,
but there was no clearly established due process right to have the prison
"prepare evidence" for the prisoner under such circumstances. Okocci
v. Klein, 270 F. Supp. 2d 603 (E.D. Pa. 2003). [N/R]
Ohio prisoner had a clearly established right to
marry his girlfriend, but it was not clearly established that he had the right
to affirmative assistance from correctional officials in obtaining a marriage
license. Correctional officials were therefore entitled to qualified immunity
from liability for money damages for initially failing to provide such
assistance. Couple, who married following settlement of their federal civil
rights lawsuit, were not "prevailing parties" entitled to an award of
attorneys' fees when they did not obtain a judgment on the merits of their
claim or a court-ordered consent decree. Toms v. Taft, No. 01-4035, 338 F.3d
519 (6th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Nov]
Prisoner's allegations that his leg infection and
urinary tract infection worsened and became more serious as a result of
inadequate medical treatment was sufficient to support a claim against prison
officials for violation of his Eighth Amendment rights, but trial court acted
erroneously by declining to rule on the merits of prison officials' motion for
summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, particularly when
plaintiff did not file an affidavit in opposition or show why he needed further
discovery to respond. Wallin v. Norman, #02-1634, 317 F.3d 558 (6th Cir. 2003).
[2003 JB Oct]
Prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity on a claim for damages for postponing a prisoner's marriage to his
fiancee for twelve months, since it was not clearly established that a delay of
that length was unconstitutional. Lawsuit's claims for injunctive relief were
moot, since prior restrictions on the fiancee's visits were lifted and the
couple had been allowed to marry. Martin v. Snyder, No. 02-1135, 329 F.3d 919
(7th Cir. 2003). [N/R]
The proper focus in deciding whether a prisoner
was entitled to due process protection before being sentenced to confinement in
a special housing unit, a federal appeals court rules, was the number of days
in the sentence, not the number of days the prisoner actually wound up serving.
Denial of qualified immunity to defendant correctional officials upheld in
prisoner's lawsuit over his sentence to ten years in special housing unit.
Hanrahan v. Doling, #02-0169, 331 F.3d 93 (2nd Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Sep]
Even if there was a triable issue of fact as to
whether a correctional officer's decision to shoot a prison inmate in the leg
during a disturbance which included an assault on another prisoner was
malicious, the officer was entitled to qualified immunity since he could have
reasonably believed that shooting this prisoner in order to stop the assault
was a good faith effort to restore order. Marquez v. Gutierrez, No. 02-15017,
322 F.3d 689 (9th Cir. 2003). [2003 JB Jun]
Former director of Michigan Department of
Corrections was not entitled to qualified immunity from liability for death of
diabetic prisoner allegedly resulting from policy mandating only "minimal
standards" of health care for prisoners with chronic illnesses and/or
requiring prisoner to purchase his own insulin. Young Ex Rel. Estate of Young
v. Martin, #02-1036, 51 Fed. Appx. 509 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Sheriff's policy of conducting strip searches of
all detainees arriving at county jail was "clearly" unconstitutional,
and trial court indicates its opinion that reasonable suspicion of possession
of contraband or weapons was required to conduct such searches on those
suspected of felonies, as well as misdemeanors, but sheriff was entitled to
qualified immunity from liability for such a search on detainee arrested for a
felony, since it was not clearly established, in 1999, that this was a
violation of the detainee's rights. Murcia v. County of Orange, 226 F. Supp. 2d
489 (S.D.N.Y. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Officer was entitled to qualified immunity for
conducting warrantless strip searches of five minors at juvenile home suspected
of possession of drugs. Reynolds v. City of Anchorage, 225 F. Supp. 2d 754
(W.D. Ken. 2002). [2003 JB Mar.]
Complaint by estate of prison employee concerning
prison's practice of allowing prisoner with a history of violent crimes using
knives to have access to a knife without adequate supervision was sufficient to
state a federal civil rights claim for employee's murder by prisoner under
"state-created danger" theory. Warden was, however, entitled to
qualified immunity because of the absence of "clearly established"
law. Waller v. Trippett, No. 01-2716, 49 Fed. Appx. 45 (6th Cir. 2002). [2003
Director of prison's medical services who acted
in an administrative role and was not directly responsible for examining or
treating the inmate was entitled to qualified immunity for upholding prison
doctor's determination that facility did not need to provide prisoner with a
continuous positive air pressure machine (CPAP) to treat obstructive sleep
apnea. Meloy v. Bachmeier, No. 01-3415, 302 F.3d 845 (8th Cir. 2002). [2003
County jail personnel's actions in strapping a
female detainee naked and spread-eagle to a restraining board for three and a
half hours and failing to cover her, allowing her to be observed by male
officers, violated her constitutional right to privacy, but defendants were
entitled to qualified immunity on federal civil rights claim, as the right
violated was not "clearly established" at the time. State law award
of $2,500 in damages for violation of privacy is upheld. Hill v. McKinley,
#01-2574, 311 F.3d 899 (8th Cir. 2002). [2003 JB Feb.]
County sheriff and jailer were entitled to
qualified immunity in civil rights lawsuit brought by inmate who claimed that
his serious medical needs were ignored after he suffered a stroke while
incarcerated. The plaintiff failed to show that the defendant officials knew
about the prisoner's stroke symptoms or his alleged repeated requests for
medical help, or that they had any subjective knowledge that the jail policy
for responding to medical requests was inadequate in any way. Prison nurse,
however, was not entitled to qualified immunity, as a reasonable nurse would
have known that a failure to examine an inmate complaining of stroke symptoms
was in violation of his constitutional rights. Tate v. Coffee County,
Tennessee, No. 01-6304, 48 Fed. Appx. 176 (6th Cir. 2002).[N/R]
Correctional officers who reported, in good
faith, seeing a prisoner indecently expose his genitals in a public area of the
prison were entitled to qualified immunity against convicted rapist's federal
civil rights lawsuit against them, filed after his disciplinary conviction was
overturned on appeal because of damage to the audiotape of the hearing. Sand v.
Steele, 218 F. Supp. 2d 788 (E.D. Va. 2002). [2003 JB Jan]
concerning a prisoner's claim that he was retaliated against by prison
officials in retaliation for his exercise of his First Amendment rights was not
clearly established in the Sixth Circuit prior to that court's decision in
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378 (6th Cir. 1999) (en banc). Defendant prison
officials were therefore entitled to qualified immunity. Williams v. Ollis, No.
01-2460, 42 Fed Appx. 694 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Prison mail room supervisor was entitled to
qualified immunity from prisoner's lawsuit over his failure to send out
outgoing legal mail which was sealed in violation of Michigan Department of
Corrections policy which required prisoners who needed a postal loan to send
out legal mail to submit it unsealed. Supervisor had no reason to believe that
this violated clearly established law, and the prisoner failed to show that he
was prejudiced in his court case by this action, as required to prove a claim
for violation of the First Amendment right of access to the courts. Smith-El v.
Steward, #01-5646, 33 Fed. Appx. 714 (6th Cir. 2002). [N/R]
Prison policy prohibiting prisoners from
receiving publications, such as books and magazines, as gifts, violated their
First Amendment rights, but federal appeals court rules that the law on this
subject was not "clearly established" until it had upheld a similar
ruling in another case on appeal, entitling defendant prison officials to
qualified immunity from liability. Sorrels v. McKee, #01-35222, 287 F.3d 1213
(9th Cir. 2002). [2002 JB Aug]
U.S. Supreme Court holds that alleged use of
"hitching post" to restrain prisoner outside in hot weather for seven
hours without bathroom breaks and with only one or two water breaks, if true,
established an Eighth Amendment violation, for which defendant prison officials
were not entitled to qualified immunity defense at summary judgment phase of
proceedings. Hope v. Pelzer, #01-309, 122 S. Ct. 2508 (2002). [2002
Physicians and nurses involved in prisoner's care
prior to his death from severe dehydration were not entitled to qualified
immunity from liability when there were numerous disputed factual issues about
what happened. Mabrey v. Farthing, 280 F.3d 400 (4th Cir. 2002). [2002
Conflicting expert witness opinions concerning
the treatment a prison physician rendered to an inmate suffering from AIDS and
hepatitis C created a material question of fact as to whether the doctor acted
with deliberate indifference, so that appeals court did not have jurisdiction
to consider doctor's appeal of trial court's denial of qualified immunity when
the doctor only sought to challenge the finding that an issue of material fact
existed. Moore v. Duffy, No. 00-2222, 255 F.3d 543 (8th Cir. 2001). [N/R]
Prison officials violated a federal statute
protecting veteran's benefits from attachment by creditors by placing a hold on
an inmate's trust account which was funded by such benefits, in order to pay
for goods and services that prisoner had purchased at a time when the funds
were not yet in the account; defendant officials were entitled to qualified
immunity from damages because of the lack of prior court decisions on the
subject. Nelson v. Heiss, No. 00-55523, 271 F.3d 891 (9th Cir. 2001). [2002
It was not clearly established, in June of 1999,
that a strip search of an officer at a correctional facility violated the
employee's due process rights unless certain conditions, such as reasonable
suspicion, were met. Prison officials sued by officer subject to such a search,
arguably without reasonable suspicion, were therefore entitled to qualified
immunity. Virgili v. Gilbert, No. 00-3371, 272 F.3d 391 (6th Cir. 2001). [N/R]
299:163 Federal appeals court rules that HIV-
positive prisoner had a federal constitutional right to privacy for his medical
records and condition, but that prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity for conduct that allegedly disclosed his conditions to others in 1995,
since this right was not then clearly established. Doe v. Delie, #99-3019, 257
F.3d 309 (3d Cir. 2001).
293:75 Officer was protected by qualified
immunity from liability for bringing disciplinary proceeding against a Moslem
inmate in retaliation for his wearing "kufi" religious headgear,
since a reasonable officer could have concluded that contraband could be
concealed under the kufi. Nicholas v. Tucker, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2323
293:73 Washington state prison officials were
entitled to qualified immunity from money damages for barring receipt of
newsletter containing the names of current prison employees out of concern for
employees' safety; qualified immunity, however, did not properly bar claims for
declaratory and injunctive relief. Prison Legal News v. Washington State Dept.
of Corrections, #00-35095, 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 5165. 292:55 Two prison guards
who fired shots into prison yard disturbance, one of which struck plaintiff
prisoner in the neck, were entitled to qualified immunity, even if plaintiff
was being attacked by other prisoners rather than an attacker; shots were being
used to quell a serious disturbance and hitting the wrong prisoner was
negligence at most, not violation of civil rights. Jeffers v. Gomez, No. 99-
15867, 240 F.3d 845 (9th Cir. 2001).
295:109 Prisoners claiming that excessive
exposure to second hand tobacco smoke constituted deliberate indifference to
their existing medical conditions and disability discrimination have to provide
individual proof; correctional officials who took some steps to restrict smoking
were entitled to qualified immunity from damages for allegedly exposing
prisoners to a risk of future harm. McIntyre v. Robinson, 126 F. Supp. 2d 394
(D. Md. 2000).
295:105 Correctional officers were entitled to
summary judgment on prisoner's claim that they "covered up" an
accident in which he was struck by a van driven by a correctional employee,
when prisoner failed to present any evidence to oppose evidence they submitted;
claims against them in an official capacity were claims against the state,
barred by absolute immunity under the Alabama state constitution. Evans v.
Cotton, #2981428, 770 So. 2d 620 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000).
289:4 Prisoners who had allegedly been mistakenly
released early from Maryland prisons were properly rearrested as escapees;
state officials were entitled to qualified immunity for obtaining escape arrest
warrants for former prisoners and having them taken back into custody.
Henderson v. Simms, No. 99-1706, 223 F.3d 267 (4th Cir. 2000).
285:141 Federal appeals court orders further
proceedings on whether male and female prisoners are "similarly
situated"; male prisoners' complaints that they are subjected to a lower
living standard, harsher work assignments, and other unequal treatment compared
to female prisoners should not have been dismissed without detailed factual
findings. Yates v. Stalder, #99-30744, 217 F.3d 332 (5th Cir. 2000).
279:38 Keeping prisoners outdoors overnight in
cold weather with no blankets or jackets, no heat, and no sanitary arrangements
for toilets, etc. while telling them they had to stay within a small space or
be shot for attempting to escape constituted cruel and unusual punishment;
defendant warden and assistant warden were not entitled to qualified immunity
for ordering a "sleep-out" in these conditions. Palmer v. Johnson,
No. 98-50595, 193 F.3d 346 (5th 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).
265:6 Correctional officers were not entitled to
qualified immunity in lawsuit asserting that they aimed loaded rifle with live
ammunition at prisoner without provocation or necessity. Thomas v. Gomez,
#97-55702, 143 F.3d 1246 (9th Cir. 1998).
265:9 Parole board members were absolutely immune
from liability in prisoner's lawsuit over their revocation of his parole;
parole officer was entitled to qualified immunity; reasonable grounds existed
for revocation of parole. Calvin v. Kansas Parole Board, 993 F.Supp. 1366 (D.
265:11 Buddhist prisoner had no clearly
established right to receive strict vegetarian diet devoid of all animal and
dairy products and byproducts or to be exempt from wearing leather shoes while
being transported or in court. Dehart v. Lehman, 9 F.Supp.2d 539 (E.D. Pa.
267:40 Parole officers entitled to qualified
immunity for failing to disclose to parolee's girlfriend that parolee was
HIV-positive; no liability for girlfriend's death after she allegedly
contracted AIDS from the parolee, who was released into her home; Iowa's
indemnification of officers was no basis for denial of qualified immunity.
Greer v. Shoop, #97-1565, 141 F.3d 824 (8th Cir. 1998).
269:73 Federal appeals court reinstates lawsuit
against jailer who allegedly incited two prisoners to attack a third, arrested
on child molestation charges, by making statements that the third prisoner was
"sick" and "should have his ass beat"; trial court had
ruled defendant jailer was entitled to qualified immunity. Martinez v. Mathis,
#97- 8363, 159 F.3d 1360 (11th Cir. 1998).
[N/R] Wardens of city jail were entitled to
qualified immunity from pretrial detainee's complaint over lack of exercise
space and law library; corrections officer did not violate detainee's clearly
established rights by temporarily placing him in disciplinary isolation to
quell a disturbance prisoner was causing. Wilson v. Blankenship, #94-7158, 163
F.3d 1284 (11th 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).
250:148 U.S. Supreme Court rules that qualified
immunity defense in federal civil rights lawsuits is not available to
correctional officers working for privately run state prisons. Richardson v.
McKnight, 117 S.Ct. 2100, 1997 U.S. Lexis 3866 (June 23, 1997).
250:150 No federal right to immediate appeal of
denial of qualified immunity in federal civil rights cases filed in state
court. Johnson v. Fankell, 117 S.Ct. 1800, 1997 U.S. Lexis 3547 (June 9, 1997).
251:163 U.S. Supreme Court grants review of case
to determine standards for qualified immunity in case where prisoner claimed
correctional official misdelivered his box of legal papers in retaliation for
his statements to the press. Crawford- El v. Britton, 93 F.3d 813 (D.C. Cir.
1996), cert. granted, 117 S.Ct. 2451, 1997 U.S. Lexis 3724 (June 16, 1997).
253:13 Strip search and urinalysis drug testing
of over a hundred inmates selected out by prison officials based on their prior
involvement with drugs or being cellmates with a prisoner who was selected did
not violate any clearly established constitutional right; prison officials
entitled to qualified immunity. Thompson v. Souza, 111 F.3d 694 (9th Cir.
263:165 Correctional officers were entitled to
qualified immunity for detaining former prisoner observed on prison perimeter
wearing what looked like prisoner clothing; officers acted reasonably
considering concerns about prison security and the possible smuggling of drugs
and weapons into the prison facility. Plummer v. Dept. of Corrections, 702 A.2d
535 (N.J. Super. A.D. 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.
[N/R] Prisoners failed to show that defendant
prison officials had actual knowledge that failure to provide protective gear
to them while working as orderlies presented a substantial risk of harm;
defendants were entitled to qualified immunity from liability. Rish v. Johnson,
131 F.3d 1092 (4th Cir. 1997).
[N/R] Prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity for withholding parole, work release and less restrictive confinement
from prisoner who refused to admit to his crime; it was not clearly established
that this violated the prisoner's right against self-incrimination. McMorrow v.
Little, 109 F.3d 432 (8th Cir. 1997).
243:37 Prison officials could have reasonably
believed that it did not violate the Eighth Amendment to fail to repair a
defective oven door; defendant officials were entitled to qualified immunity in
suit brought by prisoner burned when door fell off. Osolinski v. Kane, 92 F.3d
934 (9th Cir. 1996).
244:52 Psychiatrist was entitled to qualified
immunity for ordering single dose of anti-psychotic drug to prisoner suffering
seizure when it was feared that prisoner would injure himself; no prior case
law "clearly established" need to hold a prior hearing in such an
emergency situation. Hogan v. Carter, 85 F.3d 1113 (4th Cir. 1996).
247:100 Prison employee entitled to qualified
immunity for denying prisoner loan for postage for outgoing legal mail unless
he agreed to allow her to briefly inspect it in his presence to make sure it
qualified as legal mail. Bell-Bey v. Williams,87 F.3d 832 (6th Cir. 1996).
233:77 Transferring a prisoner, in part to give
prison staff a respite from his many grievances, did not violate his First
Amendment rights; prison officials entitled to qualified immunity in prisoner's
civil rights lawsuit over transfer. Ward v. Dyke, 58 F.3d 271 (6th Cir. 1995).
234:83 U.S. Supreme Court rules that defendants
in civil rights lawsuits may raise qualified immunity defense in both motion to
dismiss and motion for summary judgment, and may be able to appeal denials both
times in same case prior to trial. Behrens v. Pelletier, 116 S.Ct. 834 (1996).
230:29 Even if refusal to allow arrestee to make
a phone call to her father violated a Tennessee state statute, it did not
violate her federal constitutional rights; defendant law enforcement officers
were entitled to qualified immunity from liability. Harrill v. Blount Co.,
Tenn., 55 F.3d 1123 (6th Cir. 1995).
235:108 While prison officials had reasonable
suspicion sufficient to justify body cavity search of female visitor, based on
informant's statements that a "young" "unrelated female"
visitor to inmate was smuggling in drugs, they could not detain the visitor for
the search in the absence of probable cause, but instead had to allow her the
option of departing and foregoing visit; defendants in visitor's lawsuit were
not entitled to qualified immunity in light of factual disputes. Spear v.
Sowders, 71 F.3d 626 (6th Cir. 1995).
237:139 Absolute prohibition on Muslim inmate
wearing a beard violated Religious Freedom Restoration Act when inmate
sincerely believed his religion required him to do so, even if there was
evidence that the Koran did not require this; complete ban on beards was not
"least restrictive means" of satisfying security interests, when warden
testified that a 1/4" beard would not be a security problem and were
already allowed for medical reasons; defendants entitled to qualified immunity
from liability, however. Lewis v. Scott, 910 F.Supp. 282 (E.D. Tex. 1995).
236:123 Prisoner's right to use his legally
adopted religious name on outgoing mail together with his committed name was
clearly established in 1990, federal appeals court rules, and prison officials
were not entitled to qualified immunity for allegedly punishing him for doing so;
notary, however, was entitled to qualified immunity for refusing to notarize
document when signature presented did not match prison identification shown.
Malik v. Brown, 71 F.3d 724 (9th Cir. 1995).
235:104 Muslim prisoner had a clearly established
right not to handle pork in prison kitchen; kitchen supervisors were not
entitled to qualified immunity for ordering prisoner to do so and disciplining
him when he refused. Hayes v. Long, 72 F.3d 70 (8th Cir. 1995).
231:43 Two federal courts uphold actions of
prison officials in withholding access to literature of "Church of Jesus
Christ, Christian," religious arm of the Aryan Nation, a white supremacist
group. Van Dyke v. Washington, 896 F.Supp. 183 (C.D. Ill. 1995); George v.
Sullivan, 896 F.Supp. 895 (W.D. Wis. 1995).
232:59 Prison officials entitled to qualified
immunity for one-day delay in meeting state imposed deadline for conclusion of
prisoner's hearing when they had already transferred him from disciplinary to
administrative segregation and prisoner had medical appointments on the day
hearing would have otherwise been concluded. Green v. Bauvi, 46 F.3d 189 (2nd
235:103 Correctional officer was entitled to
qualified immunity for failing to intervene when one prisoner attacked another
in light of the fact that the assailant was armed and that the officer stood
alone at the end of a walkway, with over a dozen other prisoners separating him
from other officers. Prosser v. Ross, 70 F.3d 1005 (8th Cir. 1995).
232:54 Prison doctors were entitled to raise
qualified immunity defense even if they were employed by private employer who
had contracted with state to provide medical services to prisoners; it was not
clearly established that alleged repeated acts of medical malpractice
constituted deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Williams v.
O'Leary, 55 F.3d 320 (7th Cir. 1995).
234:88 Federal appeals court rules that prison
policy excluding all newspaper clippings from prisoner's incoming
correspondence may violate First Amendment; prison officials were entitled,
however, to qualified immunity from personal liability, since right to receive
such clippings was not "clearly established." Allen v. Coughlin, 64
F.3d 77 (2nd Cir. 1995).
230:21 Federal appeals court rules that allegedly
repeatedly opening prisoner's incoming court mail outside his presence would
violate his constitutional rights; defendant prison officials were not entitled
to qualified immunity from liability. Bieregu v. Reno, 59 F.3d 1445 (3rd Cir.
232:53 Prisoner allegedly injured by stray bird
shot when correctional officer intentionally fired shotgun at another inmate
can sue firing officer and two other officers who were present, despite
officer's lack of specific intent to injure him; correctional officers not
entitled to qualified immunity. Robins v. Meecham, 60 F.3d 1436 (9th Cir.
229:3 Policy directive on use of chemical agents,
such as mace, against resisting prisoners did not create constitutionally
protected liberty interest for violation of which Michigan state prisoner could
sue correctional officer. McLaurin v. Morton, 48 F.3d 944 (6th Cir. 1995).
236:116 Update: Federal appeals court finds no
clearly established law barring prison officials from revealing an inmate's
positive HIV-status to prison employees and other inmates; qualified immunity,
however, did not extend to allegations that prison officials
"punished" HIV-positive prisoner by preventing him from getting a
haircut or exercising in the prison yard. Anderson v. Romero, 72 F.3d 518 (7th
234:83 U.S. Supreme Court rules that defendants
in civil rights lawsuits may raise qualified immunity defense in both motion to
dismiss and motion for summary judgment, and may be able to appeal denials both
times in same case prior to trial. Behrens v. Pelletier, 116 S.Ct. 834 (1996).
234:85 Inmate's alleged access, during employment
in prison work program, of confidential medical records of his daughter and her
infant daughter, did not violate any constitutional right of plaintiff, despite
fact that he was serving sentence for rape and sexual abuse of his children;
defendant correctional officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Jarvis v.
Wellman, 52 F.3d 125 (6th Cir. 1995).
236:117 Prison employees were entitled to
qualified immunity for not providing protective coveralls, as required by
prison policy, to inmate work crew cleaning up human waste accumulated from
clogged sewer line; employees did supply protective eyewear, gloves, and boots,
did not themselves find it necessary to wear coveralls, and did not act with
"deliberate indifference" in not issuing inmates coveralls. Good v.
Olk-Long, 71 F.3d 314 (8th Cir. 1995). [Cross-reference: Work/Education
237:133 It was objectively reasonable for prison
employees and officials to believe they had the authority to order prisoner to
comply with court order that he provide handwriting exemplars and finger prints
to aid an investigation of drug trafficking at the prison, and to require him
to do so without the opportunity to first consult an attorney. Lazoda v. Maggy,
900 F.Supp. 596 (N.D.N.Y. 1995).
[N/R] Defendant did not need to admit the
plaintiff prisoner's factual claims in order to assert qualified immunity
defense asserting that, even if claims were true, no clearly established right
would have been violated; trial court properly denied qualified immunity,
however, since alleged failure to remove unconscious prisoner from cell after
fumes overcame him would have constituted deliberate indifference to serious
medical need. Kelley v. Borg, 60 F.3d 664 (9th Cir. 1995).
[N/R] Defendant prison officials entitled to
qualified immunity on claim they transferred inmate in retaliation for exercise
of his First Amendment rights. Schroeder v. McDonald, 55 F.3d 454 (9th Cir.
[N/R] Trial court didn't abuse its discretion by
allowing discovery to continue while deciding whether or not defendant
correctional officials were entitled to qualified immunity. Lovelace v. Delo,
47 F.3d 286 (8th Cir. 1995).
[N/R] Appeals court did not have jurisdiction to
rule on issue of qualified immunity defense by prison officials when trial
court made no specific ruling on that issue. Washington v. Wilson, 46 F.3d 39
(8th Cir. 1995).
[N/R] Appeals court had no jurisdiction over
appeal of denial of qualified immunity to corrections officer when there were
material factual issues outstanding as to whether officer took certain actions
which might violate inmate's Eighth Amendment rights. Harding v. Vilmer, 72
F.3d 91 (8th Cir. 1995).
222:83 Update: U.S. Supreme Court to review case
granting qualified immunity to prison officials in suit inmate brought claiming
that his First Amendment rights were violated when he was placed in
administrative detention after he told the press he had allegedly sold
marijuana to a Vice Presidential candidate. Kimberlin v. Quinlan, 6 F.3d 789
(D.C. Cir. 1993), rehearing denied, 17 F.3d 1525 (D.C. Cir. 1994), cert.
granted, 115 S.Ct. 929 (1995).
225:131 Sheriff and sheriff's assistant were
entitled to qualified immunity in suit alleging that they were deliberately
indifferent to needs of obese disabled prisoner in 1988. Parsons v. Wright, 649
A.2d 1108 (Me. 1994).
225:131 Prison officials were entitled to
qualified immunity in blind prisoner's disability discrimination lawsuit
alleging that they denied him equal access to vocational training programs
because of his blindness when he neither applied for existing programs nor
requested accommodation in them. Lue v. Moore, 43 F.3d 1203 (8th Cir. 1994).
225:137 N.Y. correctional official who hears
administrative appeals of inmate discipline in serious cases was not entitled
to absolute "quasi-judicial" immunity, but rather, at most, qualified
immunity. Young v. Selsky, 41 F.3d 47 (2nd Cir. 1994).
226:149 U.S. Supreme Court, resolving major split
between U.S. appeals courts, unanimously rules that defendants in federal civil
rights cases may not seek immediate appeal of denials of qualified immunity
when trial court bases such denial on basis that there is a genuine issue of
material fact for trial; immediate appeal in such cases is limited to reviewing
whether "clearly established law" violation is alleged, not issues of
sufficiency of evidence. Johnson v. Jones, 115 S.Ct. 2151 (1995).
226:150 Update: U.S. Supreme Court vacates grant
of qualified immunity to prison officials in suit brought by inmate challenging
his placement in administrative detention after he told the press he sold drugs
to Vice Presidential candidate; Court orders reconsideration in light of
Johnson v. Jones, reported above. Kimberlin v. Quinlan, 6 F.3d 789 (D.C. Cir.
1993), rehearing denied, 17 F.3d 1525 (D.C. Cir. 1994), cert. granted, 115
S.Ct. 929 (1995), vacated, 115 S.Ct. 2552 (1995).
227:169 Correctional officers were not entitled
to qualified immunity on claim that they kept prisoner in cell deprived of
clothing for twenty-two hours, before and after they allegedly used excessive
force against him; deprivation of clothing was part of "continuous course
of conduct," and jury issue was whether officers' acted for reasonable
security reasons or "maliciously and sadistically for the very purpose of
causing harm." Wilkins v. Moore, 40 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 1994).
Prison officials were entitled to qualified
immunity on prisoner's suit claiming that his segregation with other HIV-
positive prisoners violated his constitutional right of freedom of association
with prisoners in the general prison population. Camarillo v. McCarthy, 998
F.2d 638 (9th Cir. 1993).
Jail physician had qualified immunity from suit
because pre-trial detainee's right to refuse anti-psychotic medication was not
clearly established in 1989. Leeks v. Cunningham, 997 F.2d 1330 (11th Cir.
Factual issues as to whether correctional officer
used force in good faith effort to maintain order or sadistically to cause harm
precluded summary judgment for defendant officer on basis of qualfied immunity.
Hill v. Shelander, 992 F.2d 714 (7th Cir. 1993).
Prisoner awarded $276 in damages for prison
officials' failure to return him to less restrictive status after a state court
ordered them to do so; officials were not entitled to qualified immunity for
failure to obey court order, even if they thought that it was wrong and
appealable, when order had not been stayed; advice of lawyer not to comply with
order did not alter result. Walters v. Grossheim, 990 F.2d 381 (8th Cir. 1993).
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