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Corrections Law for Jails, Prisons and Detention Facilities
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Law Journal Article: Legal
Aspects of Jail and Prison Fires, 2008 (12) AELE Mo. L. J. 301
A pretrial detainee argued that county jail personnel failed to adequately ensure his safety when a fire broke out at the facility. But any claim that correctional officers acted in disregard of the jail's smoking policy was refuted by undisputed evidence that as recently as five days before the fire, they were engaged in conducting broad searches for contraband. The claim that the jail had inoperable sprinklers and lacked extra fire equipment, specifically oxygen tanks, was not sufficient to show deliberate indifference, given those searches and the presence of fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. The appeals court ruled that conditions at the jail were not dangerous enough to violate "contemporary standards of decency." Davis v. Oregon County, #09-2700, 2010 U.S. App. Lexis 11817 (8th Cir.).
North Carolina appeals court upholds rejection of state agency's motion to dismiss claims for liability for the death of four inmates and serious injuries to another in a fire at a county jail. State agency had a specific responsibility, under state law, with respect to fire safety inspections at local detention facilities, and the"public duty doctrine," the basis of the agency's motion to dismiss, had no applicability to claims that the agency's inspector was negligent and that the agency was also negligent in training the inspector. Multiple Claimants v. N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, No. COA04-808, 626 S.E.2d 666 (N.C. App. 2006). [N/R]
Prisoner was barred, by collateral estoppel, from relitigating in federal civil rights lawsuit claims arising from the first of two fires in his cells, based on a prior state court proceeding rejecting his claim that the state was negligent in connection with that fire and therefore responsible for the loss of his property. Under collateral estoppel, since the prisoner had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue once, the decided issue could not be revisited. No such bar existed as to claims arising from a second cell fire which he claimed was an "attack" on his life by a correctional officer, or subsequent alleged retaliatory actions against the prisoner, since these were not addressed in the prior state court proceeding. Hernandez v. Goord, 312 F. Supp. 2d 537 (S.D.N.Y. 2004). [N/R]
Trial court failed to adequately show that an injunction was required to remedy fire safety issues at correctional facility. Hadix v. Johnson, No. 03-1334, 2004 U.S. App. Lexis 8889 (6th Cir. 2004). [2004 JB Jun]
286:152 Prisoner who was severely injured during a fire that began in his cell after he fell asleep smoking a cigarette stated a claim for deliberate indifference against prison employees who knew that smoke evacuation system and fire and smoke alarms were not operational and who allegedly waited an unreasonable length of time before releasing him from his cell after the fire started. White v. Cooper, 55 F. Supp. 2d 848 (N.D. Ill. 1999).
270:85 Federal prisoner's assertion that he was locked down in his cell, exposing him to carbon monoxide, while fires set by other inmates involved in prison riot went out of control stated claim for negligence. Jackson v. U.S., 24 F.Supp.2d 823 (W.D. Tenn. 1998).
Inmate refuses offer to drop jail fire suit, and gets life in prison; prosecutors immune from making offer. McGruder v. Necaise, 733 F.2d 1146 (5th Cir. 1984).
Jail could be liable for injuries caused by fire set by inmates if illegal overcrowding was cause. Marsh v. Barry, 824 F.2d 1139 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
No liability for fire set by angry inmate. McClung v. Camp county, Tex., 627 F.Supp. 528 (E.D Tex. 1986).
Inmate awarded $7,500 against federal government for injuries sustained in prison fire. Blue v. U.S., 567 F.Supp. 394 (D. Conn. 1983).
Co. may be liable for injuries to inmate from state- furnished mattress that caught on fire; state dismissed from suit when county failed to challenge its motion for summary judgment. Nacogdoches Co. v. Fore, 655 S.W.2d 347 (Tex. App. 1983).
Inmate who claimed he set fire to kill mosquitoes in his cell, was convicted of burning personal property. State v. Ginn, 296 S.E.2d 825 (N.C. App. 1982).
City and jailer may be liable for inmates injury in fire that he set. Wilson v. City of Kotzebue, 627 P.2d 623 (Alas. 1981).
Co. jail had serious deficiency of fire safety precautions which could lead to a great loss of life. Use of a locked cell area which had no fire exit not permitted even in grave emergencies. Leeds v. Watson, 630 F.2d 674 (9th Cir. 1980).
Use of polyurethane mattresses and failure to douse fire ruled not negligent acts of jailer; recovery denied where inmates injured in intentionally-set fire. Watson v. North Carolina Department of Correction, 268 S.E.2d 546 (N.C. App. 1980).
Federal court orders trial on former prisoner's claim that he was subject to cruel and inhumane treatment (jail fire) while confined in county jail. Ferguson v. Fleck, 480 F.Supp. 219 (Nov. 1979).
York Co. Pennsylvania jail closed because of fire hazards. Co. of York v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 401 A.2d 885 (Pa. 1979).
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