Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position::Case overview

Part 1 presents complete summaries for each case in alphabetical order. 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: Verbal Harassment


  3. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Prisoner on Prisoner Assault, Threats

    Abney v. Jopp, 655 F.Supp.2d 231 (W.D.N.Y. 2009). A federal prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against three corrections officers, alleging a verbal confrontation with one officer and impeding the progress of an investigation into the incident by the other officers. The district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The court held that even if a correctional officer referred to the prisoner as a "snitch" in front of other inmates, the officer did not, absent some other action, violate the prisoner's Eighth Amendment rights, where the prisoner was never physically attacked, injured or threatened as a result of the officer's alleged actions. The court found that an alleged verbal altercation between the federal prisoner and one correctional officer, in which the officer called the prisoner a "pussy" and accused him of being afraid of "little women" did not give rise to an Eighth Amendment claim against the officer. The court noted that without more, allegations of verbal threats or abusive language were insufficient to form the basis of a [section] 1983 claim. (Batavia Federal Detention Facility, New York)


  5. CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT: Smoke-Free Environment

  6. MEDICAL CARE: Adequacy of Care, Deliberate Indifference, Smoke-Free Environment

    Adams v. Banks, 663 F.Supp.2d 485 (S.D.Miss. 2009). An inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against a warden and other prison officials for exposure to unreasonable levels of secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and for denial of adequate medical care. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the inmate moved for summary judgment on his claim against a prison nurse.

    The district court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether the inmate was exposed to unreasonably high levels of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) from cellmates who smoked in his cell and from other inmates in the area outside his cell. The court also found fact issues as to whether the complaints made by the inmate were sufficient for the warden and assistant supervisor to infer that ETS posed a substantial risk of serious harm to him, such that they acted with deliberate indifference to the inmate's situation.

    The court found that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to the seriousness of the inmate's medical condition as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in his cell, as well as to the nature of a prison nurse's responses to the inmate's three sick call request forms complaining of coughing, chest pains, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing and vomiting as a result of exposure to ETS.

    The court held that neither the warden nor the assistant supervisor were involved in a decision to deny the inmate medical care as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke, and thus they were not deliberately indifferent to the inmate's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (Wilkinson County Correctional Facility, Mississippi)

  7. HABEAS CORPUS: Civil Commitment

    AlMutairi v. U.S., 644 F.Supp.2d 78 (D.D.C. 2009). A detainee at Guantanamo Bay military base filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the lawfulness of his detention, and both the detainee and the government brought evidentiary motions. The district court granted the petition. The court held that the government was not entitled to have its evidence admitted with a presumption of accuracy and authenticity. The court found that evidence pertaining to the detainee's path and timing of travels was probative of what the detainee may have been doing during his travels and that evidence pertaining to the loss of the detainee's passport was probative. The court held that the detention of the detainee at Guantanamo Bay military base was unlawful According to the court, although the government established that some of the detainee's conduct was consistent with persons who may have become part of al Wafa or al Qaida, there was nothing in the record beyond speculation that the detainee did, in fact, train or otherwise become part of one of those organizations. (Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba)

  8. CIVIL RIGHTS: Involuntary Commitment, Sex Offender

  9. IMMUNITY: Qualified Immunity

  10. MENTAL PROBLEMS (PRISONER): Commitment, Due Process, Sex Offenders, Transfer

  11. TRANSFERS: Due Process, Liberty Interest, Mental Institution

    Bailey v. Pataki, 636 F.Supp.2d 288 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). Convicted sex offenders brought an action against state officials, alleging that their involuntary psychiatric commitment deprived them of constitutional due process protections. The defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, or, in the alternative, for a stay pending resolution of certain pending state court proceedings. The district court denied the motion. The court held that the allegations of the convicted sex offenders were sufficient to state a procedural due process claim against state officials for deprivation of the offenders1 liberty interests in not being confined unnecessarily for medical treatment. The offenders alleged that: (1) they were involuntarily transferred to state-run mental institutions based on the certification of doctors designated by the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York Department of Correctional Services, instead of independent, court-appointed doctors; (2) that some were never served with a notice of petition for their involuntary commitment; (3) that notice was not provided to any of the offenders' friends and family; (4) and that they were not provided an opportunity to request a pre-commitment hearing and an opportunity to be heard. The court found that the procedural due process rights of the convicted sex offenders, to certain pre-transfer procedural safeguards, including notice, an opportunity to be heard, and a psychiatric evaluation by court-appointed doctors, was clearly established at the time of their involuntary commitment and transfer from prison to a mental hospital, so as to preclude any claim of qualified immunity on the part of New York officials. The court noted that the offenders were certified for involuntary commitment after being examined for short periods of time lasting no more than 20 minutes, and once certified, all six offenders were transported in handcuffs and shackles where they were broadly evaluated for treatment. (New York State Office of Mental Health, New York Department of Correctional Services)

  12. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT: Emotional Distress, Medical Care

  13. LIABILITY: Nominal Damages, Punitive Damages

  14. MEDICAL CARE: Delay of Care

    Baker v. Wilkinson, 635 F.Supp.2d 514 (W.D.La. 2009). A Louisiana state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action, in forma pauperis, against a warden, assistant warden, prison operator, and two nurses, alleging that he was denied adequate medical care related to hemorrhoids. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether the prisoner suffered an injury as a result of the delay in appropriate medical care, whether he was entitled to damages for emotional distress, and whether he was entitled to nominal or punitive damages. (Winn Correctional Center, Louisiana, Corrections Corporation of America)

  15. ACCESS TO COURTS: Law Library, Retaliation

  16. ADMINISTRATIVE SEGREGATION: Access to Court, Due Process, Law Library, Retaliation

  17. DISCIPLINE: Due Process, Retaliation, Segregation

    Bandy-Bey v. Crist, 578 F.3d 763 (8th Cir. 2009). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against prison officials. The district court awarded summary judgment for the officials, and the prisoner appealed pro se. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that the discipline imposed on the inmate for his alleged misrepresentations about a prison official in an officer kite form, in stating that the officer insisted that the inmate write his legal documents by hand, was not retaliatory. The court noted that the officer's directly contradictory incident report provided "some evidence" to support the disciplinary action. According to the court, the discipline imposed on the inmate for his alleged failure to follow an officer's direct order to go to another officer's office was not retaliatory, where the undisputed evidence showed that the inmate failed to follow the direct order. The court held that the inmate was not deprived of substantive due process, where he was not deprived of access to the courts and was not subjected to retaliatory discipline, and the disciplinary sanctions of 10 and 15 days' segregation imposed on him that prevented him from using the law library did not impede his ability to pursue a non-frivolous claim or offend a protected liberty interest. (Minnesota Correctional Facility in Lino Lakes, Minnesota)

  18. MEDICAL CARE: Deliberate Indifference, Denial, Medication

    Blackstock v. Corrections Corp. of America, 660 F.Supp.2d 764 (W.D.La. 2009). A state inmate brought an action against a prison medical provider, seeking preliminary injunctions requiring that the prison provide him prescribed medications. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the prison physician's refusal, for no valid reason, to provide Neurontin, prescribed by an outside neurologist, constituted deliberate indifference. The court noted that the prison had specifically referred the inmate to the neurologist...

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