Part 1: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

Position:Case overview
 
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  1. FOOD: Religious Diet

  2. RELIGION: Diet, Opportunity to Practice, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), Chaplain, Equal Protection

    Abdulhaseeb v. Calbone, 600 F.3d 1301 (10 [th] Cir. 2010). A state prisoner who followed the Islamic faith brought an action against prison employees and prison canteen workers under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and [section] 1983. The prisoner asserted claims challenging his conditions of incarceration. The district court dismissed several of the prisoner's claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies and granted summary judgment in favor of workers and employees on the remaining claims. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that the Islamic prisoner's claims against prison employees in their official capacities for violations of RLUIPA based on their denial of his dietary requests were not moot, even though the prisoner had been transferred away from the prisons where some of the employees worked. The court noted that the reasons given for denying the prisoner's requests involved Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) policies, the director of ODOC had final policymaking authority for ODOC and remained a party to the litigation, the prisoner was still incarcerated in ODOC's custody and was subject to its policies, and a judgment in his favor could have required ODOC to modify those policies.

    The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the denial of the prisoner's requests for a lawful Islamic diet substantially burdened his religious exercise. The court also found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the denial of the prisoner's request for meat for a religious feast that complied with Islamic dietary laws substantially burdened his religious exercise.

    According to the court, RLUIPA did not require state department of corrections to provide a full-time paid Muslim spiritual leader, as RLUIPA required governments to refrain from substantially burdening religion, not to affirmatively subsidize religion.

    The court held that the state department of corrections' policy of not paying for soft-cover Islamic books for prisoners who could not keep their hardback Islamic books did not violate RLUIPA, as RLUIPA required governments to refrain from substantially burdening religion, not to affirmatively subsidize religion.

    According to the court, forcing the Islamic prisoner to accept pudding and gelatin on his food tray on one occasion, which allegedly rendered all food on the tray contaminated and inedible for him, did not amount to a substantial burden on the prisoner's religious exercise in violation of RLUIPA.

    The court held that the state department of corrections' policy of spending money on nonreligious items but not on religious ones did not violate the Islamic prisoner's right to equal protection. (Oklahoma State Penitentiary, Great Plains Correctional Facility, Oklahoma Department of Corrections)

  3. IMMUNITY: Qualified Immunity, Reasonable Belief

  4. INTAKE AND ADMISSIONS: Use of Force

  5. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Aldini v. Johnson, 609 F.3d 858 (6th Cir. 2010). A detainee brought a [section] 1983 excessive force case against four corrections officers, arising out of a beating which occurred while the detainee was being held in a booking room pending completion of the booking process, but after he had been surrendered to jailers by his arresting officer. The district court granted summary judgment to two of the officers based on qualified immunity. The detainee, and the officers whose motions for summary judgment were denied, appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, and vacated and remanded in part. The court held that the district court's error, in not applying the Fourth Amendment reasonableness test to the officer whose actions the court found violated the higher Fourteenth Amendment due process "shocks-the-conscience" standard, was harmless. (Montgomery County Jail, Ohio)

  6. CIVIL RIGHTS: Waiver of Rights

  7. FALSE IMPRISONMENT/ARREST: False Imprisonment

  8. LIABILITY: Official Capacity, Policies/Procedures

  9. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Release, False Imprisonment

  10. RELEASE: Delay, Timely Release

    Avalos v. Baca, 596 F.3d 583 (9th Cir. 2010). A detainee brought an action against officers of a county sheriffs department in their official and individual capacities for alleged violations of his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights based on his over-detention and the officers' alleged efforts to procure an involuntary waiver of his civil rights claim. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officers. The detainee appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that the officers were not liable under [section] 1983 in their official capacities on the over-detention claim, absent evidence that they had a policy, practice, or custom of over-detaining inmates. According to the court, the detainee had no freestanding constitutional right to be free of a coercive waiver, and even if the detainee had a right to be free from a coercive waiver, the officers were entitled to qualified immunity on the involuntary waiver claim. The detainee had been arrested on a warrant from another county for domestic abuse and was transported to the arresting county jail. The arresting county had the responsibility to notify the other county, under state law, but failed to do so. Over two months later the arresting county realized that the detainee had been over-detained and released him. On the day of his release, a deputy in street clothing asked the detainee, who did not speak English, to sign papers that were an offer to settle his claim for over-detention for $500. The detainee asserted that he did not know what was in the papers. (Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, California)

  11. ADMINISTRATION: Working Conditions

  12. PERSONNEL: Hostile Work Environment, Sexual Harassment, Title VII

    Beckford v. Department of Corrections, 605 F.3d 951 (11th Cir. 2010). Female employees at a state correctional institution filed a state court action under Title VII alleging that the state department of corrections failed to remedy a sexually hostile work environment created by male inmates. After removal to federal court, the district court entered judgment in the employees' favor, and the department appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that the department of corrections was not entitled to a blanket exemption from liability under Title VII arising from its failure to remedy a sexually hostile work environment created by male inmates whenever female employees were present, even if its employees did not participate in or encourage the harassment. According to the court, the exhibitionist masturbation and gender-specific verbal harassment by male inmates in the state correctional institution in the presence of female employees was sex-based and highly offensive conduct that could be used to establish a Title VII claim against the department of corrections for failing to remedy a sexually hostile work environment. (Florida Department of Corrections, Martin Correctional Institution)

  13. MEDICAL CARE: Dental Care, Deliberate Indifference

    Berry v. Peterman, 604 F.3d 435 (7 [th] Cir. 2010). A state prisoner brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against a prison nurse, doctor, and jail administrator, alleging deliberate indifference to his tooth pain and decay, which ultimately required a root canal. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The court held that the prisoner who suffered from tooth decay and serious pain, which ultimately required a root canal, had an objectively serious medical condition, as required to support the prisoner's [section] 1983 Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference action, based on the alleged failure of a prison nurse and doctor to refer him to a dentist.

    The court found that the jail administrator did not act with deliberate indifference to the state prisoner's serious medical condition of tooth pain and decay, by failing to refer the prisoner to a dentist for treatment, and thus, the administrator was not liable, where the administrator consulted with the prison medical staff, forwarded the prisoner's concerns to the state Department of Corrections (DOC), and responded timely to the prisoner's complaints.

    The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the prison doctor acted with deliberate indifference to the state prisoner's serious medical condition of tooth decay and severe pain, by failing to refer the prisoner to a dentist for treatment, despite the prisoner's persistent complaints.

    The court found that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether a prison nurse acted with deliberate indifference to the state prisoner's serious medical condition by failing to recommend a dental visit or deferring to the prison doctor's determination that the prisoner could wait to see the dentist, despite prisoner's persistent complaints. (Waushara County Jail, Wisconsin)

  14. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Wrongful Death, Medical Care

  15. FEMALE PRISONERS: Medical Care

  16. MEDICAL CARE: Malpractice, Negligence, Deliberate Indifference

  17. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Medical Care, Failure to Protect

    Brace v. Massachusetts, 673 F.Supp.2d 36 (D.Mass. 2009). The administrator of a female detainee's estate sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a number of individuals having some role in providing medical services to inmates at a county correctional facility, including a clinician, asserting claims for negligence and medical malpractice, and alleging that the detainee was deprived of her constitutional rights by deliberate indifference to her medical needs. A clinician...

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