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.

  1. CIVIL RIGHTS: Military Facility

  2. HABEAS CORPUS: Habeas Corpus Relief

    Al Ginco v. Obama, 626 F.Supp.2d 123 (D.D.C. 2009). A detainee being held at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that he was being unlawfully detained by federal officials. The district court granted the petition, finding that the detainee was not lawfully detainable as an enemy combatant pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and was entitled to habeas corpus relief. The court held that the prior relationship between the detainee and al Qaeda or the Taliban can be sufficiently vitiated by the passage of time, intervening events, or both, such that the detainee can no longer be considered to have been "part of* either organization at the time he was taken into custody by United States forces when determining whether the detainee may be held as an enemy combatant. (United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba)


  4. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Privacy, Searches

  5. SEARCHES: Strip Searches

    Allison v. GEO Group, Inc., 611 F.Supp.2d 433 (E.D.Pa. 2009). Arrestees detained in state custodial facilities managed by a private corporation brought a class action against the corporation, alleging the facilities1 blanket policy of mandatory strip searches without individualized suspicion violated the Fourth Amendment. The corporation moved for judgment on the pleadings for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and the district court denied the motion. The court held that the arrestees stated a [section] 1983 claim for a Fourth Amendment violation. The court noted that strip searches in a custodial facility differ qualitatively from other intake procedures which entail some incidental nudity but do not involve visual inspection of the naked body. The court said that the exposure of the naked body to scrutiny by government officers is what makes strip searches more invasive than other admission procedures at a custodial facility. According to the court, the searches involved visual inspection of the arrestees' naked bodies, the searches of named arrestees were not based on reasonable suspicion, and the purported class consisted of arrestees who were either charged with minor offenses or non-violent offenses that did not involve drugs. (George W. Hill Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania)

  6. LIABILITY: Damages, Deliberate Indifference, Municipal Liability


  8. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Askew v. Sheriff of Cook County, 111, 568 F.3d 632 (7th Cir. 2009). A pretrial detainee brought a [section] 1983 action against a prison guard and a sheriff, asserting excessive force and deliberate indifference claims against the guard and a municipal liability claim against the sheriff. The district court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. The detainee appealed. The appeals court vacated and remanded. The appeals court held that upon determining that a county was a required party in the pretrial detainee's [section] 1983 suit against a prison guard and the sheriff, the district court was required to order that the county be made a party, rather than dismissing the suit. The court noted that a county in Illinois is a necessary party in any suit seeking damages from an independently elected county officer, and, because state law requires the county to pay, federal law deems it an indispensable party to the litigation. But the court found that the Illinois county was not a party that was required to be joined if feasible in [section] 1983 suit brought against a prison guard in his individual capacity. (Cook County Jail, Illinois)

  9. CIVIL RIGHTS: Sexual Assault

  10. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Sexual Assault, Officer on Prisoner Assault

  11. FEMALE PRISONERS: Failure to Protect, Sexual Assault

  12. IMMUNITY: Sovereign Immunity

  13. LIABILITY: Sovereign Immunity, Supervisory Liability

  14. PERSONNEL: Investigation, Termination

  15. SUPERVISION: Inadequate Supervision, Staffing Levels, Deliberate Indifference

  16. TRAINING: Failure to Train

    Boyd v. Nichols, 616 F.Supp.2d 1331 (M.D.Ga. 2009). A female, who had been housed in a jail for violation of her probation, brought an action against a former jailer, county, and former sheriff, under [section] 1983 and state law, relating to the sexual assault of the inmate by the jailer. The county and sheriff moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motions. The court held that the sheriff was not "deliberately indifferent" to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate under the Eighth Amendment or the Georgia constitution in failing to protect the inmate from sexual assaults by a jailer, absent evidence that the sheriff had knowledge or indication that the jailer was a threat or danger to inmates, or that male guards, if left alone with female inmates, posed a risk to the inmates' health and safety. The court noted that the sheriffs actions in calling for an investigation and terminating the jailer's employment upon learning of the jailer's actions was not an "indifferent and objectively unreasonable response" to the inmate's claims, and thus, there was no violation of the inmate's rights.

    The court held that the jail's staffing did not pose a "substantial risk of serious harm" to the inmate who was sexually assaulted by a jailer, as required to show violation of the Eighth Amendment and Georgia constitution, absent evidence that the jail was inadequately staffed. According to the court, the county did not have a policy or custom of underfunding and understaffing the jail, as would constitute deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate, and thus the county could not be liable under [section] 1983 to the inmate who was sexually assaulted by a jailer.

    The court found that the sheriffs failure to train deputies and jailers in proper procedures for escorting and handling female inmates did not support supervisory liability on the [section] 1983 claim of the inmate, where the sheriff had no knowledge of any prior sexual assaults at the jail or any problems with jailers improperly escorting and handling female inmates, and the jailer who committed the assault had been trained previously on how to interact with inmates and knew it was improper to have intimate contact with inmates. During the time period in question, the county did not have a policy prohibiting a male jailer from escorting a female inmate within the Jail.

    The court held that the county and sheriff had sovereign immunity from the state law claims of the inmate, absent evidence that such immunity had been waived by an act of the General Assembly. (Berrien County Jail, Georgia)

  17. MEDICAL CARE: Dental Care, Deliberate Indifference, Contract Services

    Brathwaite v. Correctional Medical Services, 630 F.Supp.2d 413 (D.Del. 2009). A state prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against a corporation that provided medical services to correctional facilities, and individual defendants including a dentist affiliated with the corporation, alleging deliberate indifference to his dental needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court held that denials of the inmate's requests for a root canal procedure were not deliberate indifference, given the dentist's repeated recommendation of extraction and the inmate's refusal to consent to the extraction. The court noted that, under the Eighth Amendment, prisoners are entitled to medical treatment, but prisoners have no right to choose the specific form of medical treatment when the treatment provided is reasonable. (Correction Medical Services, Delaware Department of Corrections)

  18. MEDICAL CARE: Failure to Provide Care

  19. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Medical Care, Use of Force

  20. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Browne v. San Francisco Sheriff's Dept, 616 F.Supp.2d 975 (N.D.Cal. 2009). A former state pretrial detainee filed a [section] 1983 action against nearly 50 defendants, seeking redress for alleged injuries caused by deputies and medical staff of a sheriffs department. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants. The court held that a deputy's alleged placing of "white tip poisonous spider" in a safety cell before moving the pretrial detainee back into the cell, grabbing the detainee and bending his arm while he threw him out of the cell, and putting his knee into the center of the detainee's back did not rise to the level of malicious and sadistic use of force, as required for a Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim. The court noted that there was no evidence that the detainee was injured or that he sought medical treatment for any injuries. (San Francisco County Sheriffs Department, San Francisco County Jail, California)

  21. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Prisoner on Prisoner Assault, Protection from Harm, Deliberate Indifference

  22. MEDICAL CARE: Inadequate Care, Deliberate Indifference

    Browning v. Pennerton, 633 F.Supp.2d 415 (E.D.Ky. 2009). A pro se federal prisoner brought an action against prison officials, alleging that the officials violated the Eighth Amendment by deliberately failing to heed his warning that another inmate was going to harm him and for providing inadequate medical treatment after the inmate attacked him. The court held that the prisoner failed to allege that he personally warned prison supervisors of threats made by another inmate and his resulting fear for his safety, as required to state an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim against the supervisors. The court found that prison supervisors were not physicians...

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