Part one: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

PositionCase overview
  1. ADMINISTRATION: Staff Drug Test

  2. PERSONNEL: Drug Testing

    Allen v. Schiff, 908 F.Supp.2d 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). A former county corrections officer brought a civil rights action against a county sheriff and a county for constitutional violations allegedly arising out of the administration of a mandatory, random drug test. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact regarding the reasonableness of the drug testing program, which required the county corrections officer-who had not refused or failed a prior drug test--to provide a urine sample while being directly observed from the front. According to the court, the sheriff had final policymaking authority on the manner in which testing was administered to department employees, such that the county could be liable under [section] 1983 to the extent that this testing violated the Fourth Amendment. The sheriff had spearheaded the change in the mandatory, random drug testing policy for corrections officers employed by the county sheriffs department, and he directed the entity performing the tests to directly observe the collection of urine samples from corrections officers. (Sullivan County Sheriffs Department and Jail, New York)

  3. ADMINISTRATION: Policies/Procedures

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

  5. FEMALE PRISONERS: Sexual Assault

  6. SUPERVISION: Cross Gender Supervision, Female Staff

  7. TRAINING: Failure to Train, Negligence

    Ard v. Rushing, 911 F.Supp.2d 425 (S.D.Miss. 2012). A female inmate brought an action against a sheriff and a deputy asserting claims under [section] 1983 and [section] 1985 for violation of the Fourth, Fifth and Eighth Amendments, and also alleging a state law claim for negligence, relating to an incident in which she was sexually assaulted by the deputy while she was incarcerated. The sheriff moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the sheriff was not deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm to the female jail inmate as would have violated the Eighth Amendment, where the sheriff had established safeguards to ensure the safety of female prisoners, including a female-only, camera-monitored area in which female inmates were housed, a policy that male jailers could not enter the female-only area without a female jailer, and a policy that a female jailer was to cover each shift. The court noted that past allegations that the deputy had engaged in unwanted sexual contact with female inmates had been investigated and found not to be substantiated. The court found that the inmate failed to show that the sheriff had knowledge of the deputy's disregard of the sheriffs policy to ensure the safety of female prisoners, which included a requirement that male jailers could not enter the female only area without a female jailer, or to show that the sheriff was deliberately indifferent to the need for more or different training, as required to establish an Eighth Amendment failure to train/supervise claim. (Lincoln County Jail, Mississippi)

  8. ACCESS TO COURTS: Evidence, Expert Witness

  9. RELEASE: Delay, Timely Release

    Barnes v. District of Columbia, 924 F.Supp.2d 74 (D.D.C. 2013). Inmates at local jails brought a class action, under [section] 1983, against the District of Columbia, alleging that their over-detentions violated their Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights. Following certification of the classes, the parties filed pretrial motions to exclude or limit certain evidence from being introduced at the liability trial. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) records of inmate over-detentions constituted admissible hearsay evidence; (2) evidence of a settlement in a related class action was admissible under the "other purposes" exception of the rule governing admission of settlement evidence; (3) an expert's testimony regarding the total number of over detentions occurring during particular periods was admissible; and (4) evidence regarding strip searches performed on inmates was not admissible. The District of Columbia attacked the methodology of the expert, but the court noted that the expert had years of experience reviewing inmate jackets and other data to determine whether an inmate was over-detained, had personally reviewed hundreds of inmate jackets, and had educated himself on the system of collecting inmate data. (District of Columbia Department of Corrections)

  10. CIVIL RIGHTS: Racial Discrimination

  11. MEDICAL CARE: Mental Health

  12. MENTAL PROBLEMS (PRISONER): Due Process, Equal Protection, Right to Treatment

    Barnes v. Ross, 926 F.Supp.2d 499 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). A mentally ill inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against the Commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and employees of the New York Office of Mental Health asserting Eighth Amendment and equal protection claims. The mentally ill African-American inmate alleged that he and other minorities were subject to discriminatory treatment because of their race, in that white inmates were sent to the hospital for proper treatment, while African-Americans and Latino inmates were placed in observation for long periods and then were sent back to their cells, where they would harm themselves or tiy to commit suicide. The defendants moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) requirements of class certification were not satisfied, (2) the inmate failed to plausibly allege an Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs; (3) the inmate stated a claim of racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause; (4) the inmate adequately alleged the personal involvement of an employee; but (5) the inmate did not adequately allege the personal involvement of the Commissioner.

    The court held that the employees were not entitled to qualified immunity because the right of a prisoner to be free from racial discrimination was clearly established, and the inmate adequately alleged that the employees intentionally discriminated against him on account of his race. (Sullivan Correctional Facility, New York)

  13. MEDICAL CARE: Contract Services, Deliberate Indifference, Delay in Care, Policies

    Bredbenner v. Malloy, 925 F.Supp.2d 649 (D.Del. 2013). A former inmate brought a pro se [section] 1983 action against a corrections officer, the corporation which contracted to provide medical services to inmates, the health services administrator, and a nurse practitioner, alleging violations of his constitutional rights by virtue of the defendants' alleged deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The court held that summary judgment for the defendants was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the treatment the inmate received for his injured wrist from the date of the injury until he saw a physician was adequate, and as to whether the prison health services administrator was personally involved in the inmate's treatment. The court also found that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether policymakers at the corporation which contracted to provide medical services to inmates knew of the inmate's injured wrist but did nothing to address it. (James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Delaware)

  14. ACCESS TO COURTS: Law Library

  15. HABEAS CORPUS: Habeas Corpus Relief, Statute of Limitations

  16. LIABILITY: Damages, Heck Rule

    Burdv. Sessler, 702 F.3d 429 (7 Cir. 2012). A state prisoner brought a [section] 1983 action against prison officials, alleging that they deprived him of access to the courts by preventing him from using library resources to prepare a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The district court dismissed the action and the prisoner appealed. The appeals court affirmed, finding that the claim was barred by Heck v. Humphrey. The court noted that such a claim for damages would require the prisoner to show that the deprivation of access hindered his efforts to successfully withdraw his guilty plea, which would necessarily implicate the validity of the prisoner's conviction that he incurred on account of that guilty plea. The court noted that even if the prisoner was no longer in custody at the time of his [section] 1983 suit, he could have pursued federal habeas relief while in custody, but failed to do so. Under Illinois practice, the prisoner had thirty days to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, but for the first twenty nine days of this period, he was held at prison facilities that lacked library resources of any kind. (Sheridan Correctional Center, Illinois)

  17. ADMINISTRATION: Contract Services

  18. MEDICAL CARE: Contract Services, Malpractice, Medication, Policies

  19. RELEASE: Medication

    Bustetter v. Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., 919 F.Supp.2d 1282 (M.D.Fla. 2013). A former inmate brought an action against a sheriffs department, the sheriff, a medical services contractor, a doctor, a nurse, and a pharmacy, alleging medical malpractice, negligence, and violations of [section] 1983. The inmate alleged that the medical services contractor had a policy of not telling an inmate what medications he was being given, that the contractor had another policy of providing no medications if an inmate refused to take any of his medications, that measurement of his blood sugar levels and administration of his insulin to treat his diabetes was limited to twice a day, that he was given excess levels of statins, and that he was not informed, upon his release, of what medication he was given or of its side-effects. The defendants moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that the inmate's allegations were sufficient to state Eighth...

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