AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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A class action lawsuit
was filed against a county's policy of strip searching every prisoner admitted
into the county jail, regardless of the nature of their crime or any suspicion
that they possessed weapons or contraband. At the time, precedent in the
Second Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that such a policy was unconstitutional.
The county and its insurance carrier agreed to settle the lawsuit for a
payment of $5,000 to the named plaintiff and $1,000 for each of over 800
other plaintiffs, along with attorneys' fees. The insurer claimed that
the payout to each individual plaintiff should be subject to a separate
deductible, so that the county had to pay the insurer 800 deductibles.
The highest court in New York agreed, as the policy definition of an "occurrence"
involved personal injuries to an individual person as a result of harmful
conduct, and did not permit the grouping of multiple individuals who were
harmed by the same condition. Each strip search was a separate and distinct
occurrence subject to a separate deductible. The court rejected the county's
argument that it should only pay a single deductible. Selective Ins.
Co. of Am. v. County of Rensselaer, 2016 NY Slip Op 01001, 2016 N.Y. Lexis
An insurer had no duty under a Commercial Umbrella Liability policy to defend or indemnify a private corporation operating a prison against claims that an inmate's death was caused by the failure to provide needed medications, as this fell under a professional liability exclusion in the policy. It did, however, have a duty to defend and indemnify the defendant on this claim under a Commercial General Liability policy, and was not required to do so under a Commercial General Liability policy because of an exclusion for providing medical services. LCS Corrections Services, Inc. v. Lexington Ins., #14-40494, 800 F.3d 664 (5th Cir. 2015).
Insurance policy issued to county sheriff's office, in its provisions covering "bodily injury" and "personal injury," did not provide coverage for claims of false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the office and several of its officers brought by former inmates concerning incidents which occurred over 20 years earlier. The claims accrued at the time of the arrest and incarceration, so that the claims did not occur during the time period of the coverage. North River Insurance Company v. Broward County Sheriff's Office, No. 05-60747 CIV, 428 F. Supp. 2d 1284 (S.D. Fla. 2006). [N/R]
A Mississippi county's purchase of liability insurance did not constitute a waiver of the governmental immunity the county was entitled to under state law in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of an inmate who died when he fell off of the back of a county garbage truck after he volunteered to help with a garbage collection detail. Supreme Court of Mississippi upholds summary judgment for county. Powell v. Clay County Bard of Supervisors, No. 2005-CA-00018-SCT, 924 So. 2d 523 (Miss. 2006). [N/R]
North Carolina county only waived sovereign immunity to the extent of liability insurance purchased. Inmate who was awarded $49,500 by jury on his claim that a deputy sheriff assaulted him, therefore, could recover nothing, as the county's liability insurance only provided coverage for claims in excess of $250,000. Cunningham v. Riley, 611 S.E.2d 423 (N.C. App. 2005). [2005 JB Dec]
Mississippi county's immunity from wrongful death lawsuit brought over death of mentally ill detainee incarcerated in county jail while awaiting involuntary commitment proceeding was waived under state law to the extent of the monetary limits of the liability insurance policy purchased by the county. Boston v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, #2000-CA-00968-SCT, 822 So. 2d 239 (Miss. 2002). [N/R]
The existence of a surety bond removed the protection of governmental immunity from the sheriff and jailer in a prisoner's suit under North Carolina law alleging negligence and neglect in medical treatment of his hemophilia. Lawsuit alleged failure to properly respond to plaintiff's nose bleed, causing him to ultimately require ten days of hospital treatment. Summey v. Barker, No. COA00-106, 544 S.E.2d 262 (N.C. App. 2001). [N/R]
Co.'s "errors and omissions" insurer was not liable for a $41,496 award of attorneys' fees against the county in prisoner's prevailing civil rights suit. Sullivan Co., Tennessee v. Home Indemnity Co., 925 F.2d 152 (6th Cir. 1991).
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