Part one: complete case summaries in alphabetical order.

PositionCase overview
  1. CIVIL RIGHTS: Religion, Equal Protection, Qualified Immunity

  2. RELIGION: RLUIPA--Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, Clothing, Opportunity to Worship

  3. RULES & REGULATIONS-PRISONER: Religious Articles, Religion

  4. SAFETY AND SECURITY: Religious Groups

    Ajala v. West, 106 F.Supp.3d976 (W.D. Wise. 2015). An inmate brought an action against prison officials for alleged violation of his rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. The inmate challenged a prison policy that allegedly prohibited the inmate from wearing a "kufi," a head covering worn by some Muslims, unless he was in his cell or participating in congregate services. The prison officials moved for summary judgment, and the inmate moved for an extension. The district court held that: (1) the policy imposed a substantial burden on the inmate's religious exercise; (2) the policy was not the least restrictive means of furthering the prison's interest of preventing prisoners from using a religious head covering as a potential gang identifier; (3) the policy was not the least restrictive means of furthering the prison's interest in preventing prisoners from hiding contraband; (4) the policy was not the least restrictive means of furthering the prison's interest in preventing prison violence; and (5) prison officials were entitled to qualified immunity from the inmate's constitutional claims. The court noted that the law was not clearly established that the inmate had a constitutional right to wear a kufi at all times. (Wisconsin Secure Program Facility)

  5. PERSONNEL: TITLE VII, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Equal Opportunity, Hostile Work Environment

    Arizona ex rel. Home v. Geo Group, Inc., 816 F.3d 1189 (9th Cir. 2016). The Arizona Civil Rights Division brought a state-court action, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought a federal action, on behalf of a class of female employees who were working for a private company that operated correctional facilities. The plaintiffs alleged that the employer violated Title VII and Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) protections against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. One employee alleged that a male sergeant grabbed her crotch and pinched her vagina while she was at work. She filed an incident report with her employer but contended that the employer did not remedy the harassment. Five additional female correctional officers who witnessed or complained of sexual harassment were identified by state Civil Right Division. Even more female employees who were subjected to sexual harassment were identified when the Division interviewed current and former employees. The actions were consolidated in federal court and the district court granted the employer's motion for partial summary judgment. The Civil Rights Division and EEOC appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded.

    The court held that summary judgment was precluded by fact issues on the claim of hostile work environment asserted on behalf of a particular employee. (GEO Group Inc., operating the Arizona State Prison, Florence West Facility, and the Central Arizona Correctional Facility ("CACF")

  6. PERSONNEL: Harassment, Free Speech, Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation

    Aspinall v. Thomas, 118 F.Supp.3d 664 (M.D. Pa. 2015). A former county correctional officer brought a [section] 1983 action against correctional officers, a deputy warden, and a warden, alleging that the officers' harassment constituted retaliation in violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The officers, deputy warden, and warden moved to dismiss. The district court denied the motion. The court held that: (1) the officer's speech, regarding the alleged mistreatment and hostile work environment he suffered as the result of other officers' harassment, implicated a matter of public concern, as required to support the officer's First Amendment retaliation claim; (2) the officer's interest in commenting on a matter of public concern outweighed the government's interest in promoting workplace efficiency and avoiding workplace disruption, and thus the officer's speech was constitutionally protected as required to support a First Amendment retaliation claim; (3) the officer's factual allegations sufficiently established a causal relationship between protected speech and subsequent harassment by other officers, as required to state a First Amendment retaliation claim; and (4) the officer alleged sufficient facts to support a [section] 1983 claim against the deputy warden and the warden under the theory of supervisory liability for their alleged knowledge and acquiescence of other officers' alleged First Amendment retaliation, where the officer informed them of other officers' harassment and alleged retaliatory conduct, and they did not take any action. The court found that the defendants failed to demonstrate that the officer's First Amendment free speech rights were not clearly established at the time, as required for the officers, deputy warden, and warden to be entitled to qualified immunity. The court noted that the officer alleged an escalation in harassment after he lodged complaints about the harassment, and alleged that another officer subjected him to a barrage of insults and offensive statements after learning of the complaints. (Wayne County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania)

  7. MEDICAL CARE: Failure to Provide Care, Delay in Care

    Bakery. Wexford Health Sources, Inc., 118 F.Supp.3d 985 (N.D. 111. 2015). A state prisoner brought an action against the provider of prison health services and physicians, alleging that failure to treat his fractured arm violated the Eighth Amendment. The provider and physicians moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the policies and practices of the health services provider caused unacceptable delays in the treatment of the prisoner's fractured arm which both directly prolonged his pain and potentially precluded a physician from treating the prisoner on an acute and emergent basis. (Wexford Health Sources, Inc., Dixon Correctional Center, Illinois)

  8. LIABILITY: Special Master, Contempt, Sanctions

    Balia v. Idaho State Bd. of Correction, 119F.Supp.3d 1271 (D. Idaho 2015). State inmates filed a class action against the state board of correction and prison officials challenging conditions of their confinement. After the court found in the inmates' favor, a special master was appointed. Inmates filed a motion for sanctions or contempt after the officials destroyed and altered documents and otherwise presented misleading information to the special master when he visited a state correctional institution. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the institution's pattern of allowing its employees to manipulate inmate medical files warranted imposition of sanctions for spoliation of evidence, and an appropriate sanction was to restart the two-year monitoring period in the institution's compliance plan. (Idaho State Board of Correction, Idaho State Correctional Institution)

  9. MAIL: Regulations, Postcards

  10. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Barnes v. Wilson, 110 F.Supp.3d 624 (D. Md. 2015). An inmate brought an action against certain county jail officials, alleging that a deputy used excessive force when she slammed a door slot on the inmate's hand. The deputy and a supervisor moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by an issue of material fact as to whether the deputy closed the door on the inmate's hand maliciously or in response to a breach of security by the inmate.

    The court found that the jail's policy of restricting the inmate's mail to postcards did not violate his First Amendment right to send and receive mail, where the policy did not foreclose all avenues of communication, the inmate's stay at the jail was transitional and temporary, and the policy did not impact the inmate's ability to communicate with legal counsel regarding his criminal case. (Washington County Detention Center, Maryland)

  11. MEDICAL CARE: Contagious Diseases, Deliberate Indifference

    Beagle v. Schwarzenegger, 107 F.Supp.3d 1056 (E.D. Cal. 2014). Former and current state prisoners who contracted "Valley Fever" during their terms of incarceration brought a [section] 1983 action against state officials, alleging that they were recklessly exposed to dangerous conditions, and that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to their serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The officials moved to dismiss. The court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that the alleged reckless exposure of immunocompetent Caucasian state prisoners to risk of contracting "Valley Fever" was sufficient to state Eighth Amendment claim, and that the prisoners did not state a claim for deliberate indifference to their serious medical needs. According to the court, the alleged reckless exposure of immunocompetent Caucasian state prisoners to the risk of contracting "Valley Fever" by placing those prisoners in a prison facility that was experiencing an epidemic of "Valley Fever," without implementing any remedial or preventative measures to lower the prisoners' risk of contracting the disease, stated an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against the prison officials. (Pleasant Valley State Prison, Avenal State Prison, California)

  12. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT: Crowding, ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act, Sanitation, Floor-Sleeping

  13. FACILITIES: Crowding, ADA--Americans with Disabilities Act, Plumbing, Sanitation

  14. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Use of Force, Conditions of Confinement, Medical Care

    Bell v...

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