Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

PositionCase overview

Part 1 presents complete summaries for each case. The major topic section and subtopics are identified before each case summary. This format makes it easier for the reader to review every case. Part 2 presents the summaries under each of the 50 major topic areas.


14. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Prisoner on Prisoner Assault, Use of Force

48. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

Avratin v. Bermudez, 420 F.Supp.2d 1121 (S.D.Cal. 2006). A prisoner who was involved in a fight with another inmate brought a civil rights action against a corrections officer, alleging that the officer used excessive force in attempting to stop the fight. The officer moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The court held that the officer's alleged conduct of firing a wooden projectile from a launcher directly at an unarmed prisoner involved in a fight with another inmate, causing a severe injury to the inmate's leg, violated the prisoner's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment The court noted that no correctional officers, prison personnel or other inmates were at immediate risk during the fight and the officer failed to use any lesser degree of force before firing his launcher. However, the court found that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity for his alleged conduct because it would not be clear to a reasonable officer that the alleged conduct was unlawful, as a reasonable officer could conclude that the fight posed a risk of serious bodily injury, the officer aimed at the prisoner's leg, virtually eliminating the risk that the prisoner would suffer a life-threatening injury, the fight occurred in a heightened security setting with numerous other inmates present in the yard, and the prisoner and other inmate refused orders to desist. (Centinela State Prison, California)

1. ACCESS TO COURT: Retaliation for Legal Action, Legal Materials


10. CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT: Smoke-Free Environment


Bacon v. Taylor, 414 F.Supp.2d 475 (D.Del. 2006). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against three correctional officers, alleging denial of his First Amendment right of access to courts, retaliation for exercising his First Amendment free speech rights, and cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants in part, and denied it in part. The court held that the prisoner's allegations that a correctional officer, on one occasion, smoked a cigarette on the tier by another inmate's cell and blew smoke into that inmate's cell, and that on several occasions the correctional officer smoked in the isolated control pod, did not sufficiently allege that the prisoner was exposed to unreasonably high levels of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) to the degree necessary to state claim a under [section] 1983 for violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The court found that the prisoner's allegation that a correctional officer opened and read the draft of his lawsuit against her and then refused to return it to him did not sufficiently allege an actual injury as required to state a claim under [section] 1983 for violation of First Amendment constitutional right of access to the courts. The prisoner alleged only that as a result of not receiving his original draft back he had forgotten the exact dates he saw the officer smoking in the prison, but the prisoner did not allege that his inability to remember specific dates had unduly prejudiced his case against the officer.

The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether prison authorities could have reasonably interpreted the prisoner's draft of a [section] 1983 lawsuit against a correctional officer as a threat to the security and safety of the prison, or that a reasonable person would have known that the document was the draft of a legal complaint against the officer, justifying his placement in administrative segregation rather than constituting retaliation for the prisoner having exercised his First Amendment free speech rights by drafting the lawsuit against the officer. (Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Delaware)

1. ACCESS TO COURT: Appointed Attorney

Barbour v. Haley, 410 F.Supp.2d 1120 (M.D.Ala. 2006). A class of death row inmates brought a [section] 1983 action alleging that the state's denial of legal assistance prior to their filing of postconviction challenges deprived them of their right of access to courts. The district court held that Alabama's failure to provide counsel to indigent death row inmates for investigation and preparation of postconviction challenges to their convictions did not violate their federal constitutional right of meaningful access to courts. According to the court, indigent death row inmates had no Sixth Amendment right to appointment of counsel prior to their filing of postconviction petitions. The court held that death row inmates could not challenge Alabama's postconviction relief procedures as being so onerous that they constituted denial of their right of access to courts, without identifying some existing claim that had been lost, or whose presentation had been hindered, as the result of the challenged procedures. (Alabama Department of Corrections)



41. SEARCHES: Strip Search, Privacy

Beasley v. City of Sugar Land, 410 F.Supp.2d 524 (S.D.Tex. 2006). An arrestee sued a city under [section] 1983, claiming she was subjected to a strip search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The city moved for summary judgment and the district court entered summary judgment for the city. The court held that the municipality's policy of authorizing strip searches only when an official had reasonable suspicion that an arrestee was a threat to facility security, did not violate the Fourth Amendment. The arrestee was cited for driving her mother's car with no driver's license, no current motor vehicle inspection or registration, no insurance, and no license plate light, a few days after her eighteenth birthday. She was summoned to appear in court but mistakenly appeared five days late. She was arrested at her house on a warrant for failure to appear and she was allowed to put on shoes and socks, but was taken to jail in the clothes she was wearing--pajama pants and a cotton shirt with no bra. On the way to the city jail the arresting officer radioed for a female officer to meet him at the jail to perform a search. At the jail a female police officer told the arrestee to stand with her hands against a wall. She instructed the arrestee to lift her shirt and the officer lifted Beasley's breasts to feel beneath them. The officer then instructed the arrestee to drop her pants while continuing to hold up her shirt. The officer pulled the arrestee's panties taut and did a quick two-finger swipe across Beasley's vagina. The male arresting officer allegedly witnessed this search. The arrestee initially alleged that she was subjected to a "strip search and body cavity search," but the court found that her description of the events did not indicate that a body cavity search occurred. (City of Sugar Land, Texas)

7. CIVIL RIGHTS: ADA-Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act

16. FALSE IMPRISONMENT/ARREST: Arrest and Detention

25. INTAKE AND ADMISSIONS: ADA-Americans with Disabilities Act

32. PRETRIAL DETENTION: ADA-Americans with Disabilities Act, Separation

Bircoll v. Miami-Dade County, 410 F.Supp.2d 1280 (S.D.Fla. 2006). A deaf motorist brought an action against a county, alleging that his arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) and subsequent detention violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA). The motorist alleged that throughout the arrest process, the county failed to establish effective communication because it did not provide him with any auxiliary aids as required by the ADA and RA. The county moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The court held that the motorist's arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) and his subsequent stationhouse detention was not covered by the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act (RA). According to the court, the motorist's arrest was due to his erratic and suspicious driving, not his disability, and following his arrest the police merely communicated the breath test consent form to the motorist, who foreclosed further questioning by requesting an attorney through his driver's rights card. The court held that the detention of the motorist following his arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) did not violate the Rehabilitation Act (RA), where the motorist was not detained because of his disability, but instead was detained because Florida law required a DUI arrestee to be detained for at least eight hours.

The court found that a county police officer did not intentionally discriminate, act in bad faith, or act with deliberate indifference during the initial stop and arrest of the motorist, as required to support the award of compensatory damages under the Rehabilitation Act (RA). As the officer became aware of the motorist's disability, the officer allowed the motorist to get out of his car so they could speak face to face, and attempted to communicate through sign language. The officer believed in good faith that effective communication was established because the motorist responded to him, and the motorist read the implied consent form.

The court found that the detention of the deaf motorist in solitary confinement following his arrest did not rise to the level of intentional discrimination or deliberate indifference to the motorist's disability, as required to support the award of compensatory damages under the Rehabilitation Act (RA). Corrections facility...

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