Part two: case summaries by major topic.

PositionP. 31-67 - Case overview

1. ACCESS TO COURT U.S. District Owens-Ali v. Penneli 672 F.Supp.2d 647 (D.Del. Court 2009). A pro se state prisoner, a Moorish American APPOINTED National adherent, brought an action pursuant to ATTORNEY PRO [section] 1983 and the Religious Land Use and SE LITIGATION Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) against prison officials, in their individual and official capacities, alleging that the officials violated his constitutional rights when they denied his request for a religious diet, and that the officials retaliated against him for his attempts to exercise his religious beliefs. The prisoner requested counsel. The court found that the prisoner's action was not so factually or legally complex that requesting an attorney to represent the prisoner was warranted. The court noted that the prisoner's filings in this case demonstrated his ability to articulate his claims and represent himself. (James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, Delaware) U.S. District Phipps v. Sheriff of Cook County, 681 F.Supp.2d 899 Court (N.D.IU. 2009). Paraplegic and partially-paralyzed PLRA-Prison pretrial detainees currently and formerly housed at Litigation a county prison brought a class action against the Reform Act county and county sheriff, alleging violations of EXHAUSTION the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motions for summary judgment. The court held that the sheriff waived the affirmative defense that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies, as required by Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), where the sheriff raised that defense for the first time in his motion for summary judgment. The court held that paraplegic and partially-paralyzed pretrial detainees who were formerly housed at the county prison were not "prisoners confined in jail" for the purposes of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), and thus their civil rights claims were not subject to, or barred by, PLRA. The court held that the pretrial detainees adequately alleged discrimination based on the prison's failure to provide wheelchair-accessible bathroom facilities. According to the court, the detainees met the PLRA physical injury requirement by. In addition to alleging mental and emotional harm, the detainees complained of bed sores, infections, and injuries resulting from falling to the ground from their wheelchairs and toilets, which were undeniably physical injuries. (Cook County Department of Corrections, Illinois) U.S. District Shockley v. McCarty, 677 F.Supp.2d 741 (D.Del. Court 2009). A former inmate filed a pro se, in forma FRIVOLOUS pauperis [section] 1983 action against prison SUITS IN FORMA officials alleging his Eighth Amendment rights were PAUPERIS violated when an officer labeled him a "snitch." The district court denied the officials' motion to dismiss. The court held that a prison official's failure to include an affirmative defense of frivolousncss in an answer to the former inmate's in forma pauperis [section] 1983 complaint waived the defense. The court noted that while the inmate's case might not succeed on the merits, the complaint was not indisputably meritless, fantastic, delusional or trivial, and contained sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief. According to the court, the label of "snitch" in a prison posed serious risks to the inmate and could have incited others to harm him by identifying him as such. (Delaware Correctional Center) U.S. Appeals Dillon v. Rogers, 596 F.3d 260 (5th Cir. 2010). A Court pretrial detainee, who was transferred first to a EXHAUSTION temporary jail and then to a stale corrections PLRA-Prison facility after Hurricane Katrina damaged a parish Litigation correctional center, brought a [section] 1983 Reform Act action. The detainee alleged that he was beaten and mistreated while at the temporary jail, resulting in hearing loss and other injuries. The district court dismissed the action for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The detainee appealed. The appeals court vacated and remanded for further discovery. The court held that the record was not sufficiently developed to determine whether administrative remedies were "available" for detainee to exhaust at the state facility, requiring remand. (Jefferson Parish, Louisiana) U.S. Appeals Gayton v. McCoy, 593 F.3d 610 (7th Cir. 2010). The Court EXPERT administrator of a female detainee's estate brought WITNESS DUE a [section] 1983 action against correctional PROCESS facility officials and nurses, alleging they violated her due process rights by failing to provide adequate medical care. The district court entered summary judgment for the defendants, and the administrator appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The appeals court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding a physician unqualified to offer expert testimony that the detainee's death from non-specific heart failure would have been prevented had she been given her congestive heart failure medication, where the physician lacked specific knowledge in cardiology and pharmacology, and he provided no basis for his testimony except that the detainee's medication treated heart disease. But the appeals court held that the district court abused its discretion in finding the physician unqualified to offer expert testimony that the detainee's vomiting combined with her diuretic medication may have contributed to her tachycardia and subsequent death from non-specific heart failure. (Peoria County Jail, Illinois) U.S. Appeals Gonzalez-Fuentes v. Molina, 607 F.3d 864 (1st Cir. Court INITIAL 2010). A class of prisoners convicted of murder, APPEARANCE DUE who had been released pursuant to an electronic PROCESS supervision program (ESP), filed a complaint under [section] 1983, seeking a preliminary injunction against their re-incarceration pursuant to a regulation which became effective after their releases. The district court granted a preliminary injunction and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico appealed. Another class of prisoners who had been re-incarcerated filed a separate petition for a writ of habeas corpus and the district court granted the petition. The district court consolidated the two cases, and denied the Commonwealth's motion to dismiss. The commonwealth appealed. The appeals court reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. The court held that re-incarceration of the prisoners convicted of murder under a new regulation eliminating the ESP program for prisoners convicted of murder, did not violate the ex post facto clause, where the prisoners had committed their crimes of conviction at times predating the creation of the ESP, so that Puerto Rico's decision to disqualify prisoners from participating in the ESP had no effect on the punishment assigned by law. The court also held the re-incarceration of the prisoners convicted of murder did not violate substantive due process. The court found that although the impact of re-incarceration on the prisoners was substantial, Puerto Rico had a justifiable interest in faithfully applying the new statute which barred prisoners convicted of murder from the ESP program. According to the court, there was no showing that Puerto Rico acted with deliberate indifference or that re-imprisonment was conscience-shocking. The court found that the re-incarceration of the prisoners deprived them of procedural due process, where the prisoners were not given any pre-hearing notice as to the reason their ESP status was revoked, and the prisoners had to wait two weeks after their arrest before receiving any opportunity to contest it. (Puerto Rico Department of Justice, Puerto Rico Administration of Corrections) U.S. District Green v. Tudor, 685 F.Supp.2d 678 (W.D.Mich. 2010). Court A state inmate brought a [section] 1983 action EXHAUSTION LAW against four employees at a prison for claims LIBRARY arising from his access to a prison law library and RETALIATION the adequacy of the prison's food service. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the inmate failed to exhaust administrative remedies prior to bringing his claim against an assistant librarian alleging denial of access to courts through a denied "call-out" request. The court found that the assistant librarian did not engage in retaliatory conduct against the inmate and did not deny the inmate equal protection. The court held that the assistant food service director did not coerce the inmate, an Orthodox Muslim, into participating in Jewish religious practices, and did not take any actions establishing a state religion, so as to violate the Establishment Clause of First Amendment. The court held that the alleged denial by the prison's assistant food service director of adequate advance notice of meal substitutions, hot meals during non-daylight hours during a religious holiday, and adequate nutritional calories to the Muslim inmate was rationally related to legitimate governmental and penological interests of prison security and fiscal budgetary discipline, and thus the denials did not violate the inmate's First Amendment free exercise rights. The court noted that the inmate retained alternative means for practicing his Muslim faith, and granting requests for specialized diets would be expensive and would divert resources from other penological goals. (Muskegon Correctional Facility, Michigan) U.S. Appeals Harris v. City of New York, 607 F.3d 18 (2nd Cir. Court FILING 2010). A prisoner brought an action under [section] FEES IN FORMA 1983, alleging that he was assaulted by corrections PAUPERIS officers. The district court dismissed the PLRA-Prison prisoner's complaint on the grounds that he had Litigation accumulated four strikes under the Prison Reform Act Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), was not entitled to in forma pauperis...

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