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A Civil Liability Law Publication
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(Published as VOLUME 2000 NUMBER 282)
Access to Courts/Legal Info
Prison Litigation Reform Act
Prisoner Assault: By Inmates
Index to Cases Cited
ACCESS TO COURTS/LEGAL INFO
Prisoner's conduct in pursuing frivolous legal claims was not protected conduct for which he could pursue retaliation claim in the absence of retaliatory conduct which "shocked the conscience"; prisoner could, however, pursue claim that he was retaliated against for assisting another prisoner in asserting his complaints if that assistance was necessary to enable other prisoner to do so.
A Tennessee state prisoner's federal civil rights lawsuit asserted that prison officials retaliated against him for bringing earlier lawsuits against them and for assisting another inmate in pursuing his grievances against the prison.
A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of portions of this lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff could not pursue a claim for retaliation for the exercise of his right of access to the courts based on alleged retaliation following his pursuit of First Amendment freedom of religion claims that had been dismissed as frivolous. His pursuit of his prior claims were only "protected conduct" to the "extent that the underlying claims had merit," which it had been previously determined that they did not.
"Depriving someone of a frivolous claim," the court noted, "deprives him of nothing at all," citing Lewis v. Casey, 518 U.S. 343, 353 (1996). The court further noted that under its recent precedent in Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, #95-1837, 175 F.3d 378 (6th Cir. 1999), full text: <http://pacer.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions/main.php>, the legal standard for liability for a claim of retaliation against a prisoner for the exercise of a specific constitutional right is that the plaintiff must show that he engaged in protected conduct, that an adverse action was taken "that would deter a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in the conduct," and that "the adverse action was motivated, a least in part, by the inmate's protected conduct.
Since this inmate's conduct in pursuing frivolous claims was not protected as a specific constitutional right, he could only pursue a general retaliation claim if the acts of the prison officials were "an egregious abuse of governmental power" or behavior that "shocks the conscience."
The acts that the plaintiff claims prison officials took in response to his pursuit of his frivolous claims, such as suspension of his wife's visitation privileges and a threatened transfer to another facility, "fall far short of the 'shock the conscience' test," the appeals court stated.
However, he did arguably state a retaliation claim based on his assistance to other prisoners in pursuing their grievances or litigation. "Such assistance is protected," the court found, "when the inmate receiving the assistance would otherwise be unable to pursue legal redress. Assistance is then protected as a derivative of the complainant's right of access to the courts." In Thaddeus-X, for instance, the assisting inmate was found to have engaged in protected conduct because "the complainant had no knowledge of the law, and was being held in administrative segregation, and could only access legal books by requesting them by title."
The appeals court therefore ordered further proceedings to determine whether the plaintiff's assistance in the instant case had been required in order for the inmate he assisted to pursue his claims. Herron v. Harrison, No. 98-5726, 203 F.3d 410 (6th Cir. 2000).
Text: <http://pacer.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions/main.php>. [Cross-references: Frivolous Lawsuits; Religion].
Correctional officer terminated for allegedly stealing minor items from his employer received adequate due process prior to termination and had adequate post-termination state remedies to seek reinstatement and back pay if he were terminated without just cause.
A Wisconsin correctional officer received uniformly favorable performance evaluations for over a decade, but then was discharged on allegations of stealing from his employer. A search of his belongings at the end of his shift disclosed two pounds of bagged butter, as well as six pens and a small tube of toothpaste similar to the types of pens and toothpaste in use at the facility. The butter, the officer asserted, was something he had brought in before to give to a co-worker who had purchased seafood from the business he ran from his home.
A pre-disciplinary hearing was held, and then a termination meeting. There were also two "investigatory interviews." At each of these times, the officer declined to make a statement. The union representing the officer declined to take his case to arbitration, and he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit asserting that the state department of corrections and a variety of its employees had violated his constitutional right to due process.
Granting summary judgment for the defendants, the trial court found that the plaintiff had received adequate due process. He received notice of the charges against him and an opportunity to respond. "That he offered no comment cannot defeat the fact that a procedure for responding was placed at his disposal." Indeed, the court commented that personnel at the correctional facility "appear to have exceeded the constitutional minimum when they also conducted two other investigatory interviews and held a separate termination meeting at which" he was "again given the opportunity to make a statement."
The appeals court also noted that the plaintiff had adequate posttermination remedies under Wisconsin state law which would allow him to pursue reinstatement, back pay, attorneys' fees and costs through the Wisconsin Personnel Commission by alleging that his discharge was not based on just cause. The appeals court rejected the argument that these remedies were inadequate because they did not give him the right to a jury trial or to the potential award of punitive damages. "The availability of administrative remedies at the hands of an unbiased decisionmaker dooms his procedural due process claim."
Federal courts, the appeals court noted, "cannot, and should not, be in the personnel management business. At this remove, we confess that the penalty for taking a few garbage bags, pens, and a tiny three-ounce tube of toothpaste seems quite harsh, especially if we take" the plaintiff's "word for his ownership of the two pounds of butter. But the Due Process Clause does not protect people against ill-considered decisions (which this may or may not have been, of course) any more than it protects the right of students to play whatever music they choose in band." Schacht v. Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, No. 96-3633, 175 F.3d 497 (7th Cir. 1999).
Full Text: <http://www.kentlaw.edu/7circuit/>.
Former correctional officer was properly removed from list of those eligible for reappointment based on a factual finding that he had accepted gifts or gratuities from prisoners in exchange for favors.
A New York correctional officer was laid-off after five years on the job and was placed on a Preferred Eligible List for reappointment to a comparable position. He was interviewed for a possible position as a deputy sheriff, but the person conducting the interview concluded that he had violated several sections of the state's Penal Law and should not be appointed.
A hearing under the states Civil Service Law was held at which the detective who conducted this interview testified that the officer had accepted gifts or gratuities from inmates in exchange for favors. A factual finding to this effect was entered by the hearing officer. As a result, the former officer's name was removed from the list of employees eligible for reappointment. An intermediate New York appellate court found no error in this decision. While the detective's testimony was "hearsay, inculpatory hearsay statements may constitute substantial evidence." The court further rejected the argument of the former officer that the penalty "is so disproportionate to the offense as to be shocking to one's sense of fairness." The alleged conduct was a violation of state law and could lead to dismissal of a correctional officer. Slyke v. Onondaga County Dept. of Personnel, 688 N.Y.S.2d 312 (A.D. 1999).
Correctional officials with no personal involvement in prisoner's alleged exposure to dangerous chemicals in prison metal shop could not be held liable for future harm to him, when there was no claim they failed to remedy it after learning of it, or created a policy that allowed it to happen or continue; prisoner could pursue claim against other correctional employees based on alleged failure to provide him with safety equipment.
A New York prisoner sought monetary damages for being exposed to an alleged future risk of harm because of coming in contact with dangerous chemicals while being employed in the metal shop at a correctional facility.
A federal trial court ruled that a number of correctional officials could not be held individually liable for this alleged harm when they did not directly participate in the purported infraction, fail to remedy it after learning of it, or create a policy or custom which allowed the allegedly unconstitutional practices to occur or continue.
For instance, the state commissioner of corrections was not personally involved in the events at the metal shop that led to the lawsuit, and the prisoner did not claim that the commissioner failed to take action after learning of the problem, or created any policy that caused him to be put in contact with dangerous chemicals.
A quality control supervisor in the metal shop also could not be held liable, as his duties were unrelated to the shop's safety procedures, and only involved making sure that the products produced met standards of quality and workmanship.
The prison superintendent was similarly not directly involved and there was no showing that he was grossly negligent in supervising his subordinates.
The court did allow the claims to proceed against a number of other defendants more directly involved in the prisoner's complaints, based on factual issues as to whether the prisoner was provided with proper safety equipment to protect him against the allegedly dangerous chemicals. The prisoner did have a clearly established constitutional right to be protected from future harm, so the remaining defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. Crawford v. Coughlin, 43 F. Supp. 2d 319 (W.D.N.Y. 1999). [Cross-reference: Work/Education Programs].
Colorado Supreme Court vacates $180,000 judgment (reduced from $1.8 million jury award) against state based on alleged negligence in treating prisoner's infection that wound up leaving him partially paralyzed; prisoner did not comply with state statute requiring approval of a medical professional for medical malpractice claims; federal civil rights claims reinstated, however.
A Colorado prisoner visited the prison medical clinic and was treated by the nurse for a cold based on his symptoms. During a series of succeeding visits, medical personnel allegedly failed to adequately detect and treat a severe sinus infection which spread to his right eye, the base of his brain, and the right frontal lobe of his brain. He eventually required three brain surgeries, two sinus surgeries, and one eye surgery, and suffered a stroke, leaving him permanently paralyzed on the left side of his body.
He filed claims for medical malpractice against a licensed nurse in the clinic, as well as a negligence claim against another prison employee (a guard), and federal civil rights claims against all defendants. The lawsuit sought to hold the state liable for the medical malpractice and negligence claims, as the employer. The claims against the guard were based on his alleged failure to assist the plaintiff after his eye started to swell up almost shut and the prisoner complained to him about this condition.
The trial court dismissed the medical malpractice claim, since the plaintiff did not comply with a state statute that such claims must be reviewed by a licensed professional and that a certificate that they found the claim meritorious must be attached to the complaint.
The court also dismissed the federal civil rights claims. The jury awarded $1.8 million against the state of Colorado, finding the state 80% at fault and the plaintiff 20% at fault for his injuries. The trial judge then reduced the damages awarded to $180,000 under a state statute placing a limit on damages against the state.
The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of the medical malpractice claim, finding that the prisoner was required to comply with it on a medical malpractice claim against the nurse.
It further held that this requirement also applied to any attempt to hold the state vicariously liable as the employer for the nurse's alleged professional malpractice.
At the same time, the court rejected the argument that the individual defendants or the state as their employer were immune from liability for negligence in the "course of operating a correctional facility" under a state Governmental Immunity Act.
The court also ruled that the trial court improperly dismissed the plaintiff prisoner's federal civil rights claims against the two individual defendants. Further, since it was not clear from the jury's verdict what portion of the damages awarded might have been for the professional negligence of the licensed nurse, "that damages award cannot stand and must be vacated."
Further proceedings were therefore ordered on the federal civil rights claims and on the negligence claims against state employees who "are not licensed professionals." Colorado, State of, v. Nieto, No. 97SC876, 993 P.2d 493 (Colo. 2000).
New York prisoner was not entitled to early consideration for parole based on uncredited time served in jail years before on an unrelated charge; time served on one charge could not be "banked" to apply to a future charge.
A New York state prison inmate who had been paroled sued city and state officials claiming that they unconstitutionally delayed his eligibility for parole at the minimum term of a 1992 prison sentence by failing to give him credit for previously uncredited time he had spent in jail in connection with unrelated charges for which he was sentenced in 1988.
The federal trial court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff was not entitled to the time credit that he claimed. The prisoner had no right to have uncredited jail time from an earlier charge "carried forward as a credit against a sentence subsequently imposed" on an unrelated charge.
Time served on one charge may not be "banked," since individuals "should not be encouraged to commit crimes knowing they have a 'line of credit' that can be applied against future sentences."
Put "another way, the uncredited jail time served by plaintiff on his 1988 sentence neither entitled him to play a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card on his 1992 sentence, nor, when that was denied, to draw from the 'Community Chest' in this damages action." Harris v. City of New York, 44 F. Supp. 2d 510 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).
PRISON LITIGATION REFORM ACT: EXHAUSTION OF REMEDIES
Prisoner was required to pursue available administrative remedies over alleged failure to protect him against rape by a fellow prisoner even though the damages he was seeking in a federal civil rights lawsuit were not available in the administrative process; appeals court finds, however, that prisoner "substantially complied" with exhaustion requirement.
An Ohio prisoner was raped by a fellow inmate. A year later, he filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against prison employees seeking damages for cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, he claimed that the defendant prison employees were deliberately indifferent to his safety when they placed him in a cell with a known sex offender and then provided inadequate medical and psychological care after the rape.
The prisoner's claim was dismissed by the trial court for failure to exhaust available intra-prison administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, (PLRA), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1997e(a).
A federal appeals court ruled that the prisoner was required to exhaust available administrative remedies before pursuing his federal civil rights lawsuit for damages, even though money damages were not available as a remedy in the existing prison grievance procedure. The appeals court reasoned that otherwise prisoners could "easily avoid the administrative process" by asking for damages. A major purpose of the PLRA was to insure that prisons have "notice of complaints and are given the opportunity to respond to prisoner complaints, so that such injuries are prevented in the future."
Additionally, the PLRA exhaustion of remedies requirement helps deter frivolous complaints, and the administrative review and record is helpful to the federal courts "in weeding out the frivolous prisoner cases from the ones that may have merit."
In the immediate case, however, the court noted that the 90-day period for pursuing an administrative grievance had already expired at the time of the enactment of the PLRA. Under these circumstances, the prisoner's correspondence with various prison officials "substantially complied" with the exhaustion of remedies requirement by giving written notice of his complaints, since he was no longer able to pursue an administrative grievance, and had not been required to do so prior to the enactment of the PLRA. The court therefore reinstated the prisoner's suit. Wyatt v. Leonard, No. 98-4161, 193 F.3d 876 (6th Cir. 1999).
Text: <http://pacer.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions/main.php>. [Cross-reference: Sexual Assault].
PRISONER ASSAULT: BY INMATES
Correctional officers were not liable for failure to protect prisoner from being hit in the head by another inmate with a softball bat; there were no prior fights or threats between the two prisoners or anything else that would lead them to anticipate such an attack; no evidence showed deliberate indifference to subsequent medical needs and there was no liability for alleged decision to parole prisoner to avoid additional medical expenses.
A Maryland prisoner was hit in the head with an aluminum softball bat by another inmate following the end of a softball game in the recreation yard. The injured prisoner claimed that correctional officers failed to follow their usual routine of collecting the bats immediately after the game because they were engaged in conversations among themselves. He spent three days at a county hospital where he was treated for a cerebral contusion and later returned to the prison and admitted into the infirmary, where he continued to receive treatment for his head injury.
The injured prisoner's lawsuit alleged both a failure to protect him from the assault and inadequacy in the medical treatment provided. The trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants.
It ruled that the prison guards who were on duty in the recreation yard at the time of the attack were entitled to qualified immunity.
At the time of the assault (1995), the court found that a prisoner asserting a failure to protect claim had to show that prison officials were "deliberately indifferent to a risk of danger presented by other inmates," unless the plaintiff had been subject to specific threats, the risk of attack was pervasive, or the plaintiff belonged to a group identified as vulnerable to attacks.
In this case, the plaintiff had no prior conflicts with the fellow prisoner who attacked him and was not threatened prior to the attack. He also did not belong to any group of prisoners "particularly vulnerable" to assaults and there was no evidence that the risk of attack in the facility was "pervasive."
The court found no evidence of any deliberate indifference in the medical treatment provided, and any claimed problem in diagnosing his problems was, at most, negligence, which is not sufficient for a federal civil rights claim.
The court rejected the argument that prison officials violated the plaintiffs rights by allegedly paroling him three months prior to the end of his sentence to "avoid additional medical expenses." Even if he had any evidence of this, he did not explain how this violated the Eighth Amendment or harmed his physical well being. Additionally, the "undisputed facts show that the parole was simply a matter of procedure" since he had earned 95 days "diminution of confinement credits." Randolph v. State of Maryland, 74 F. Supp. 2d 537 (D. Md. 1999). [Cross-reference: Medical Care].
Use of "L" shape method of restraint was not excessive force when used on prisoner who posed a serious threat to herself and others and when other lesser forms of restraint had proved ineffective; restraint itself caused no physical harm and prison officials were careful to monitor the prisoner while she was restrained in this manner.
A Georgia prisoner with a history of suicidal threats and drug problems received various counseling and therapy from mental health personnel. The prisoner became violent, self-destructive and suicidal on a number of occasions, thrashing around her cell, climbing on the sink, ripping her sheets to shreds, beating on and dismantling the overhead light, and attempting to obtain sharp objects.
She also hit and scratched various prison personnel, threatened to flood the toilet, and started multiple fires in her cell, burning her food tray, her Bible, her clothing, and other items. One such fire required the evacuation of the entire cellblock.
Prison officials responded by removing various potentially harmful belongings and restraining the prisoner. The restraints used included straitjackets, "four-point" restraints which anchored each of her arms and legs to different point on the bed, and other methods. She exhibited an "uncanny ability to escape from most forms of restraint," removing her straitjacket, and at least once freeing herself from four-point restraints. A federal civil rights lawsuit she filed complained that prison officials and mental health personnel were deliberately indifferent to her serious medical needs, and particularly complained about their use, on a number of occasions, of an "L" shape restraint method with her knees bent so that her calves were perpendicular to her back.
To use this form of restraint, officials first immobilized the plaintiff's hands and arms using either a straitjacket or handcuffs behind her back. They next put handcuffs on her ankles. "Finally, they used a strap that ran the length from the handcuffs on her ankles up to the handcuffs on her wrists," leaving her in an "L" shape, with her body from her head to her knees defining the vertical part of the "L" and the lower portion of her legs--"from her knees along her calves to her feet--defining the horizontal portion of the 'L'."
Upholding the use of this form of restraint, and rejecting the argument that it constituted excessive use of force, a federal appeals court noted that there was no evidence that it was applied "maliciously and sadistically" for the purpose of causing harm.
Instead, it was used because the prisoner posed a serious threat to herself and others, and lesser restraints had been shown to be ineffective in curbing her dangerous behavior.
The restraint itself caused no physical injury, and prison employees carefully monitored the prisoner while she was in this form of restraint, complying with proper procedures. Campbell v. Sikes, #98-8265, 169 F.3d 1353 (11th Cir. 1999).
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.
A Tennessee prisoner committed suicide in a county jail by hanging himself in the afternoon. The cell had a monitor camera at one end and was not designed as a suicide prevention cell. His surviving family brought a federal civil rights lawsuit for wrongful death against the county and county employees, claiming that the decedent should have been placed in a suicide prevention cell and that all sheets and clothing useful in committing suicide should have been removed. The lawsuit also complained that the county did not give the jailors adequate training in suicide prevention.
The trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants except for one jailor. A federal appeals court upheld this result.
The appeals court noted that nothing occurred that would put reasonable jailors on notice of a possible suicide attempt by the prisoner. Indeed, one jailor specifically talked to the prisoner about suicide when he arrived at the jail, and the prisoner said that he was not a suicide risk and "loved life." A second jailor, who had gone to high school with the prisoner, was "concerned" about his "mental health" and also asked him, "are you suicidal?," to which the prisoner replied, "Hell no, I've got a baby on the way that I've got to take care of."
Additionally, one of the plaintiffs in the case itself, the decedent's mother, is an "experienced, practicing, licensed, clinical psychologist with a Ph.D." Two months after her son's death, she stated in a letter that he "was not suicidal at 11:30" (approximately two hours before his death) "when I talked to him" on the phone, and that he "knew he was getting out" of jail.
"When an experienced expert in the field of psychology, like decedent's mother," was "unable to predict suicide, and did not think it was necessary to warn her son's jailors of such a possibility, it is unreasonable to attribute fault to the county or its jailors for failing to predict suicide." Under these circumstances, the county had no legal obligation to isolate the prisoner in a suicide cell "or take other extraordinary steps in anticipation of suicide."
Accordingly, "whatever the county may have failed to do in training its jailors about suicide, its training program was not a proximate cause of the injury here."
The appeals court did, however, uphold the denial of summary judgment as to one jailor. The plaintiff's complaint asserted that this jailor saw the prisoner tie the noose around the bar at 1:45 p.m. but did not call an emergency medical team until 1:56 p.m. or notify other jailers of the problem until 1:55 p.m.
This jailor allegedly observed the tying of the noose on a tv monitor. While he denied this, the court ruled that further proceedings were justified by this factual dispute. Ellis v. Washington County, No. 98-6178, 198 F.3d 225 (6th Cir. 1999).
Refusal to allow Roman Catholic prisoner to possess multi-colored rosary beads did not infringe on his right to practice his religion when prison offered him a set of all-black rosary beads, and multi-colored beads were prohibited because of the possibility that they would be used to display gang-affiliation "colors."
A Massachusetts prisoners had a multi-colored (black-and-white bead) rosary confiscated from his cell during a search. Such multi-colored rosaries are prohibited within the facility because of the possibility that street gang members could use such colors to represent or display their affiliations.
The prisoner claimed that loss of this set of beads interfered with his right to practice his Roman Catholic religion, and he declined an offer of a set of all-black rosary beads which the prison told him he could either keep with him or use temporarily during religious services.
Rejecting his federal civil rights claim against prison officials, the highest court in Massachusetts found that the prisoner "failed to state a cause of action," and that the prohibition of multi-colored rosary beads was "reasonably related to penological interests and, thus did not unreasonable infringe" on the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion.
The court also noted that the "plaintiff offers no reason why he could not use the black rosary beads that were offered to him. The allegation that [he] cannot practice his religion is not supported." Kane v. Muir, #SJC-08119, 725 N.E.2d 232 (Mass. 2000).
County was not liable for guard's alleged sexual assault on female prison based merely on policy of allowing cross-gender guarding of prisoners; random sexual assault did not constitute "punishment" for Eighth Amendment purposes; officer could be liable for a violation of prisoner's due process rights however, and be subject to punitive damages if allegations were true.
A female prisoner's cellmate reported that a male correctional officer visited the cell and, while she pretended to sleep, gave the prisoner a number of gifts, including bras, thong underwear, cigarettes, candy, and yellow pills. The officer allegedly asked the prisoner to model the underwear and then engaged in a sexual act with her. The prisoner then allegedly told her cellmate later that she had engaged in sex with the officer "a number of times in that cell."
Following an investigation in which the prisoner admitted to engaging in a single act of intercourse with the officer, the officer was terminated. The officer denied ever engaging in sexual acts with the prisoner or giving her gifts. In a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer and the county, the prisoner alleged that the officer took advantage of her mental and physical state, including her taking of various medications, to engage in non-consensual sexual acts with her.
The trial court ruled that there was no evidence that any county policy was a cause of the officer's alleged sexual assault on the prisoner. The court rejected the argument that there was any constitutional violation involved with the general policy of allowing male guards to oversee female inmates, "even when the latter are under medication, mentally ill, or in disciplinary segregation."
The court found no policy of deliberate indifference to the right of inmates to be protected from mistreatment. To the contrary, for instance, the county "has adopted a policy prohibiting male guards from strip searching female prisoners absent an emergency."
There was no prior history of assaults by the defendant officer or others, and when the present "controversy arose, the County moved quickly to investigate." In short, far from indicating deliberate indifference, it was shown that the "County acted diligently."
The trial court also rejected claims of excessive force against the correctional officer, since the prisoner herself stated that he did not physically harm her and there was no evidence that the officer's actions were "motivated by malice or the will to inflict pain."
The court further found that a "random sexual assault by a prison guard--while cruel and not ordinary--does not qualify as 'punishment' for Eighth Amendment purposes," so that it also dismissed the prisoner's Eighth Amendment claim for cruel and unusual punishment.
The sole claim that the court allowed to proceed was the plaintiff's claim for violation of her due process rights--ruling that a sexual assault on a custodial prisoner "is a shocking abuse of power, particularly where the inmate is mentally or physically incapacitated."
Accordingly, if the plaintiff's allegations were true, the defendant guard could be found to have been "deliberately indifferent" to her welfare and to have engaged in conduct which "shocks the conscience." The court further ruled that it was possible that a jury could award punitive damages on this claim. Cain v. Rock, 67 F. Supp. 2d 544 (D. Md. 1999).
Strip searches of Wisconsin prisoner returning to segregation following disciplinary hearings were supported by legitimate institutional security concerns; prisoner did not have an expectation of privacy interest in his body which would support a Fourth Amendment claim, and there was no evidence that the manner in which the searches were carried out constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment.
A Wisconsin inmate claimed that his constitutional rights were violated when he was subjected to strip searches upon being returned to segregation from three different disciplinary hearings.
Upholding summary judgment in favor of defendant prison officials, an intermediate Wisconsin court ruled that the inmate did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his body which permitted him to make a Fourth Amendment challenge to the strip searches. Further, the record was devoid of sufficient evidence to show that the manner in which the strip searches were conducted violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
The court ruled that the strip searches the plaintiff complained of were motivated by legitimate institutional security concerns, and there was no evidence in the record that these stated security concerns were any kind of "pretext for intentional or reckless conduct aimed at causing the inmate pain."
The court also noted that the prisoner did not complain in any detail about the manner in which the strip searches had been carried out, but rather about the fact that they occurred at all.
"Strip searches may not be employed by prison officials for the purpose of punishing, harassing, humiliating or intimidating inmates, regardless of their classification or status within the institution." In this case, however, the plaintiff had not shown any such misconduct on the part of defendant prison officials. Al Ghashiyah v. McCaughtry, #98-3020, 602 N.W.2d 307 (Wis. App. 1999).
Wyoming inmate could not collect "loss of earnings" workers' compensation benefits for pre-incarceration work-related injury during the time he was incarcerated.
A Wyoming inmate filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits for loss of earnings stemming from his work-related back injury which he suffered prior to his incarceration. A hearing examiner awarded benefits.
The Supreme Court of Wyoming overturned this award, ruling, for the first time in the state, that the prisoner's current inability to join the work force was attributable to his incarceration, rather than to his reduced level of functioning because of his pre-incarceration injury. Accordingly, he was not entitled to the payment of loss of earnings benefits while he remained imprisoned. Apodaca v. Workers' Safety & Comp. Division, No. 97-148, 97-158, 977 P.2d 56 (Wyo. 1999).
INDEX OF CASES CITED
Page numbers in [brackets] refer to the print edition.
Al Ghashiyah v. McCaughtry,
#98-3020, 602 N.W.2d 307 (Wis. App. 1999).
Apodaca v. Workers' Safety & Comp. Division, No. 97-148, 97-158, 977 P.2d 56 (Wyo. 1999).
Cain v. Rock, 67 F. Supp. 2d 544 (D. Md. 1999).[93-94]
Campbell v. Sikes, #98-8265, 169 F.3d 1353 (11th Cir. 1999).[90-91]
Colorado, State of, v. Nieto, No. 97SC876, 993 P.2d 493 (Colo. 2000).[86-87]
Crawford v. Coughlin, 43 F. Supp. 2d 319 (W.D.N.Y. 1999).[85-86]
Ellis v. Washington County, No. 98-6178, 198 F.3d 225 (6th Cir. 1999).[91-92]
Harris v. City of New York, 44 F. Supp. 2d 510 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).[87-88]
Herron v. Harrison, No. 98-5726, 203 F.3d 410 (6th Cir. 2000).[83-84]
Kane v. Muir, #SJC-08119, 725 N.E.2d 232 (Mass. 2000).
Randolph v. State of Maryland, 74 F. Supp. 2d 537 (D. Md. 1999).[89-90]
Schacht v. Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections, No. 96-3633, 175 F.3d 497 (7th Cir. 1999).[84-85]
Slyke v. Onondaga County Dept. of Personnel, 688 N.Y.S.2d 312 (A.D. 1999).
Thaddeus-X v. Blatter, 175 F.3d 378 (6th Cir. 1999).
Wyatt v. Leonard, No. 98-4161, 193 F.3d 876 (6th Cir. 1999).[88-89]
Page numbers in [brackets] refer to the print edition.
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