Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview

Part 1 presents complete summaries for each case, alphabetically by year published. 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.


  2. CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT: Smoke-Free Environment

  3. LIABILITY: FTCA-Federal Tort Claims Act, Negligence

  4. MEDICAL CARE: Smoke-Free Environment

    Abuhouran v. U.S., 595 F.Supp.2d 588 (E.D.Pa. 2009). A prisoner brought a negligence action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging prison officials exposed him to excessive amounts of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The defendants moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion. The court held that the prisoner was precluded, under the discretionary function exception of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), from challenging the warden's designation of smoking areas, as federal regulations explicitly assigned the exercise of choice or judgment to the warden to designate areas subject to ETS. The court noted that the stated policy considerations for implementing the "no smoking areas" in prisons was to provide a clean air environment and to protect the health and safety of staff and inmates, suggesting the designation of smoking areas was the kind of discretionary function the FTCA exception was meant to shield. The court held that under Pennsylvania law, the prisoner failed to present any medical evidence or expert witnesses to establish a causal connection between his exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and his alleged injury, as required to prevail on his negligence claim. The court also held that the prisoner failed to present any evidence of an actual injury. (Federal Detention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

  5. CIVIL RIGHTS: Military Facility, Aliens

  6. FOOD: Involuntary Nourishment


  8. USE OF FORCE: Restraining Chair

    Al-Adahi v. Obama, 596 F.Supp.2d 111 (D.D.C. 2009). Aliens who were alleged enemy combatants engaging in voluntary hunger strikes while detained at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, moved to enjoin measures taken as part of a forced-feeding program. The district court denied the motion. The court found that the detainees failed to show a likelihood that they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an order enjoining the government from using a restraint-chair in order to facilitate force-feeding them. The court noted that pursuant to the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), the district court lacked jurisdiction to consider the complaints of detained alleged enemy combatants. According to the court, the government officials who imposed various restraints on the detained alleged enemy combatants, including the use of a restraint chair, in order to facilitate force-feeding them in response to their hunger strikes, were not thereby deliberately indifferent to their Eight Amendment rights. The court found that evidence that the detained alleged enemy combatants had assaulted medical staff and guards during attempts to force-feed them after the detainees engaged in hunger strikes, demonstrated that the government might suffer a substantial injury if the detainees' request for a preliminary injunction against the use of a restraint-chair to facilitate such feedings were granted. (U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba)

  9. IMMUNITY: Eleventh Amendment

  10. LIABILITY: Contract Services, Policies/Procedures, Respondeat Superior, Vicarious Liability

  11. MEDICAL CARE: Contract Services, Inadequate Care

    Austin v. Taylor, 604 F.Supp.2d 685 (D.Del. 2009). A state prisoner brought an action alleging a [section] 1983 claim for inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment and a state law medical negligence claim against a medical service corporation under contract with the state to provide healthcare services at a prison. The district court dismissed the case in part. The court held that the corporation that provided prison healthcare was not a state actor entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity on the state prisoner's [section] 1983 claim. The court noted that despite having been named in hundreds of [section] 1983 actions, the corporation had never been held to be an arm of the state for Eleventh Amendment purposes. The court noted that the corporation was an autonomous actor and was not immune from state taxation, and any judgment against the corporation would not be paid from the state treasury.

    According to the court, although the corporation could not be held liable for allegedly medically negligent acts of an employee under the theories of respondent superior or vicarious liability, the corporation could be directly liable for acts of the employee if the employee's acts were deemed the result of the corporation's policy or custom that was so likely to result in the violation of constitutional rights that the corporation could reasonably be said to have been deliberately indifferent to the prisoner's serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

    The court noted that a "policy" of the corporation is made when a decision-maker possessing final authority to establish a policy with respect to an allegedly violative action issues an official proclamation, policy or edict. According to the court, the "custom" of the corporation can be proven by showing that a given course of conduct, although not specifically endorsed or authorized by law, is so well-settled and permanent as to virtually constitute law. (Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, Wilmington, Delaware)

  12. CIVIL RIGHTS: ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, RA- Rehabilitation Act, Handicap, Pretrial Detainees

  13. INTAKE AND ADMISSIONS: ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, Telephone

  14. PRETRIAL DETENTION: ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, RA- Rehabilitation Act, Intake Screening, Telephone, Handicap

    Bahl v. County of Ramsey, 597 F.Supp.2d 981 (D.Minn. 2009). Two hearing-impaired arrestees, and their respective girlfriend and husband, brought an action against a county, sheriffs department, and city, alleging that they were arrested by city police officers without being provided an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and detained at an adult detention center (ADC) without access to an ASL interpreter or auxiliary aids that would have permitted them to communicate with others outside of the ADC. The plaintiffs asserted claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), and for negligence. The district court dismissed the case in part. The court held that the girlfriend and husband had standing to sue the county, sheriffs department, and city under state and federal anti-discrimination laws, where they alleged that they experienced fear, anxiety, humiliation, and embarrassment because of the defendants' failure to permit the arrestees to contact them. The court found that the girlfriend and husband stated a claim for discrimination under the ADA by alleging that the arrestees requested auxiliary aids to communicate with people outside of the ADC, and that the county's failure to provide such aids precluded their communication with the arrestees. (Ramsey County Adult Detention Center, Minnesota)

  15. FALSE IMPRISONMENT/ARREST: False Imprisonment


  17. RELEASE: Release Date, Released on Bond, Timely Release

    Blandford v. District of Columbia Jail, 593 F.Supp.2d 255 (D.D.C. 2009). An arrestee brought a civil rights action against a District of Columbia jail, alleging that he was detained for seven days without a lawful basis. The district court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court held that the arrestee failed to demonstrate that he was detained beyond his purported release date, as required to state a [section] 1983 claim against the jail for unlawful detention. The court noted that the arrestee appended to his complaint a document that showed he was freed two days after his purported release date and voluntarily appeared in court on that date, and jail records showed that the arrestee was released on the same day that bond was posted on his behalf, and was not in jail at any time after the purported release date. (District of Columbia Jail)

  18. EX-OFFENDERS: Claims

  19. RELEASE: Due Process, Early Release, Equal Protection

  20. SENTENCE: Equal Protection, Sentence

    Bowdry v. Ochalla, 605 F.Supp.2d 1009 (N.D.Ill. 2009). A former state prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against attorneys employed by a county public defender's office, alleging that the attorneys' respective failure to notice and correct a mittimus error had resulted in the inmate's incarceration for an extra three months, asserting violations of due process, equal protection, and the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The district court dismissed the action. The court held that the attorneys had not acted under the color of state law in failing to correct the mittimus error, where the review of mittimus fell within the scope of a lawyer's traditional functions, contrary to the defendant's contention that it was "essentially administrative." (Cook County Public Defenders, Illinois)

  21. ADMINISTRATIVE SEGREGATION: Placement, Restraints, Hygiene, Conditions

  22. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT: Segregation, Temperature, Clothing, Mattress, Restraints

  23. HYGIENE-PRISONER PERSONAL: Clothing, Hygiene Items

  24. SAFETY AND SECURITY: Segregation, Restraints, Security Practices

  25. USE OF FORCE: Restraints

    Bowers v. Pollard, 602 F.Supp.2d 977 (E.D.Wis. 2009). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against correctional facility officials, challenging the conditions of his confinement. The court held that the correctional facility's enforcement of a behavior action plan that regularly denied the...

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