PART ONE: Complete Case Summaries in Alphabetical Order.

PositionCase overview
  1. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Wrongful Death, Medical Care

  2. MEDICAL CARE: Failure to Provide Care

  3. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Wrongful Death, Medical Care

    Becker v. Carbon County, 177 F.Supp.3d 841 (M.D. Pa. 2016). The estate of a detainee, who died in custody after allegedly suffering heroin withdrawal symptoms, brought an action against a county and a county worker, asserting claims for deliberate indifference, negligence, survival, and wrongful death. The defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the estate was not precluded from pursuing a wrongful death claim against the county under Pennsylvania law to redress alleged violations of the detainee's federal civil rights, but could assert a wrongful death claim under Pennsylvania law, predicated on [section] 1983 claims, against the county worker. According to the court, county prison officials were aware that the detainee suffered from an opiate addiction and that he was withdrawing from heroin at the time he was booked and was "dope sick." A sergeant decided that the detainee was a suicide risk and he was placed on a suicide watch, in a cell at "booking" where he could be easily observed, and where he was observed by officers every 15 minutes. The detainee died, and it was reported to the coroner by correctional officers and medical personnel that, while incarcerated, the detainee was vomiting at least twice per hour, could not tolerate food or liquids, was ill to the point of losing consciousness and was unable to walk without aid. County prison records did not indicate that the detainee was seen by a doctor and did not see any medical personnel for three days before he died. (Carbon County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania)

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

  5. FEMALE PRISONERS: Failure to Protect, Sexual Assault

  6. SUPERVISION: Failure to Supervise, Cross Gender Staffing

    Blueberry v. Comanche County Facilities Authority, 183 F.Supp.3d 1149 (W.D. Okla. 2016). Female inmates at a county jail brought a [section] 1983 action against the jail alleging they were subjected to sexual assault at the hands of detentions officers, or other inmates with the cooperation of officers, and that the jail violated their constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment. The Jail Authority moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. The court held that while the officers were acting under the color of state law at the time of the alleged sexual assaults, the jail administrator was not deliberately indifferent to an obvious risk that an inmate would be sexually assaulted by a guard or other inmate, as required to hold the county jail liable under [section] 1983. According to the court, the officers were on duty as detention officers at the time of the assaults, the assaults occurred while the officers were, or were at least pretending, to perform their duties, and, but for the officers' positions as detention officers for the jail, they would have had no access to or authority over the inmates who allegedly victimized or permitted others to victimize the plaintiffs. The court noted that although the inmates alleged that the administrator was aware that the booking area of the jail had blind spots with regard to cameras, and that he failed to enforce his own policy of excluding male guards from the floor where females were housed, the absence of cameras did not present an obvious risk for violation of the inmates' constitutional rights, and the fact that male guards supervised female inmates was not sufficient to establish that a risk of harm was apparent. (Comanche County Facilities Authority, Oklahoma)

  7. MEDICAL CARE: Failure to Provide Care

  8. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Use of Force, Medical Care

  9. USE OF FORCE: Excessive Force

    Bocchino v. City of Atlantic City, 179 F.Supp.3d 387 (D.N.J. 2016). A casino nightclub patron who was arrested and placed in a holding room in the casino hotel brought a [section] 1983 action against a city and two city police officers, alleging excessive force, denial of medical care, and that the city engaged in deliberately indifferent policies and procedures. The city and officers 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 issues of fact on the excessive force claim against the officers. The court found that there was no evidence of a custom or policy by the city that could have caused the arrestee's injury, and that the officers were not deliberately indifferent to the arrestee's serious medical need. According to the court, the city could not be held liable for denial of medical needs absent underlying constitutional liability by the police officers. One officer struck the arrestee several times in the face before taking him in handcuffs to a holding cell, where the second police officer pushed the arrestee towards a bench while the arrestee was on his knees. The court noted that the arrestee suffered from bruises to his jaw, lip, and knee, but provided no facts to refute the contents of medical records or to suggest that he received any further treatment other than that which was provided by a nurse in the casino in-house holding cell where he was detained by officers. (City of Atlantic City, New Jersey)

  10. CLASSIFICATION & SEPARATION: Double Celling, Failure to Protect

  11. CRUEL & UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT: Failure to Protect, Double Celling

  12. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Wrongful Death, Prisoner on Prisoner Assault

    Bowen v. Warden Baldwin State Prison, 826 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2016). The administrator of the estate of a prisoner who was beaten to death by his cellmate brought a [section] 1983 action against various prison officials, alleging that the prisoner's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated. The district court granted the officials' motion to dismiss, and the administrator appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that the administrator sufficiently alleged that a deputy warden and a corrections officer were aware that a substantial risk of serious harm to the prisoner existed and also drew the inference, and the deputy warden and officer were not entitled to qualified immunity at the motion to dismiss stage. The cellmate, a convicted murderer, had been transferred to the lock-down segregation mental health unit after assaulting his former cellmate, and officials were aware of the cellmate's severe paranoid schizophrenia, his delusions, and his violent impulses. The court noted that, having personally seen the prisoner and his cellmate together in the cell prior to the murder, they knew that such double housing of mental health inmates violated prison guidelines. (Baldwin State Prison, Georgia)

  13. ACCESS TO COURTS: Appointed Counsel

  14. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Privacy, Searches, Access to Court

  15. PRIVACY: Searches, Staff Of Opposite Sex

    Byrd v. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, 845 F.3d 919 (9th Cir. 2017). A male former pretrial detainee, who was litigating pro se as a state prisoner, brought a [section] 1983 action against a county board of supervisors, the county sheriff, and the county sheriffs department, challenging the sheriffs alleged crossgender policy of allowing female guards to observe daily- from four to five feet away- male pretrial detainees showering and using the bathroom. The district court dismissed the case and the detainee appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded with instructions. The court held that the former detainee stated a due process claim for cruel and unusual punishment and a Fourth Amendment claim for violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court found that there were exceptional circumstances that warranted appointment of counsel. According to the court, the former detainee, by alleging that he had filed five grievances to alert jail officials that he felt uncomfortable being observed by female guards while showering and using the bathroom, particularly because of the sexual abuse he had suffered in the past, sufficiently alleged that jail officials were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm, as required to state a claim for cruel and unusual punishment of a pretrial detainee in violation of Due Process Clause. (Maricopa County Sheriffs Department, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Arizona)

  16. FAILURE TO PROTECT: Suicide, Duty to Protect

  17. MEDICAL CARE: Deliberate Indifference, Suicide

  18. MENTAL PROBLEMS (PRISONER): Medication, Suicide, Deliberate Indifference

  19. PRETRIAL DETENTION: Failure to Protect, Suicide, Mental Health

    Burns v. Robertson County, 192 F.Supp.3d 909 (M.D. Tenn. 2016). The mother of a pretrial detainee who committed suicide while in a county jail brought an action individually and on behalf of the son's estate under [section] 1983 against the county, the sheriff and the county jail administrator. She alleged that the county jail's customs and policies regarding identification and treatment of suicidal detainees constituted deliberate indifference to her son's serious mental health care need to prevent his suicide. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion, finding that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to: (1) whether the county knew of the pretrial detainee's suicidal tendencies prior to his suicide; (2) whether the county was aware, or should have been aware, of obvious risks of suicide that were foreseeable in the county jail and which the county failed to recognize; (3) whether the county's policies and customs on the provision of medical care to detainees with suicidal indications was grossly incompetent or inadequate such as to amount to deliberate indifference; (4) whether...

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