U.S. Appeals Court FAILURE Smith v. County of Lenawee, 600 F.3d 686 TO SUPERVISE GOVERNMENTAL (6 Cir. 2010). A female detainee's IMMUNITY NEGLIGENT estate brought an action against a SUPERVISION county, sheriff, on-call physician, police officers, and parole agent, under [section] 1983 and state law, arising out of the detainee's death while in the county's custody. The district court denied the parole agent's motion for summary judgment on a gross negligence claim. The agent filed interlocutory appeal. The appeals court reversed. The court held that the parole agent's failure to intercede on behalf of the detainee in county custody, upon arriving at the jail to serve the detainee a notice of parole violation charges and determining that the detainee was unable to be transported or served, was not the "proximate cause" of the detainee's death, so as to entitle the agent to governmental immunity from gross negligence liability under Michigan law. The court noted that the detainee was in the custody of county jail officials in the hours leading up to her death, the parole agent worked for the state Department of Corrections, not the county, the detainee had been experiencing delirium tremens (DT) symptoms for close to 48 hours prior to arrival at the jail, a physician had been notified of the detainee's condition and told jail officials to monitor the detainee, the agent was present at jail for a matter of minutes only, and county jail officials failed to check the detainee until 40 minutes after the agent left the jail. (Lenawee County Sheriff's Department, and Michigan Department of Corrections) U.S. District Court Tate v. Troutman, 683 F.Supp.2d 897 COMPENSATORY DAMAGES (E.D.Wis. 2010). A county jail inmate PUNITIVE DAMAGES filed a [section] 1983 action alleging DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE that officials failed to provide constitutionally sufficient medical care. The inmate moved for the entry of a default judgment. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that a county jail officer and medical officials were not personally involved in the allegedly inadequate medical treatment provided to the inmate after a fall in his cell, and thus were not liable under [section] 1983 for any compensatory or nominal damages for an Eighth Amendment violation. The court noted that even though the inmate suffered pain after the fall and had blood in his bowel movements, the inmate had a history of severe low back and bilateral neck pain, headaches, and rectal bleeding before the fall. The court held that county jail officials failed to provide adequate medical care for the inmate's dislocated shoulder, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and thus the inmate was entitled to an award of compensatory damages for past pain and suffering. The court noted that the jail physician refused to see the inmate or speak to him, jail officials rejected the inmate's grievances regarding his inadequate medical treatment, and the inmate experienced physical pain and emotional distress for three or four weeks due to his lack of adequate diagnosis and treatment of his shoulder injury by immobilization. The court concluded that an award of $27,000 was the appropriate amount to compensate the inmate for his past pain and suffering, where the inmate experienced pain and suffering for about one month. The court found that county jail officials showed callous indifference towards the inmate's medical needs, and thus a punitive damages award of $9,000 was warranted to deter or punish the Eighth Amendment violation. The court also found that the inmate was entitled to prejudgment interest on the compensatory damage award at an average monthly prime rate compounded annually from the period beginning on the date of his injury through the date of the entry of judgment. (Milwaukee Country Jail, Wisconsin) U.S. Appeals Court Thomas v. Cook County Sheriffs Dept.t 604 COMPENSATORY DAMAGES F.3d 293 (7th Cir. 2010). A mother FAILURE TO PROTECT brought a [section] 1983 and state DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE wrongful death action against a county, sheriff, and various officers and medical technicians at a county jail after her son died from pneumococcal meningitis while being held as a pretrial detainee. The mother asserted a claim of deliberate indifference to medical needs as well as a common-law claim for wrongful death. Following a jury verdict for the mother, the district court, ordered the reduction of the total damage award from $4,450,000 to $4,150,000. The defendants appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. The court held that the issue of whether county corrections officers were subjectively aware of the pretrial detainee's serious medical condition that culminated in death from pneumococcal meningitis, as required to support detainee's survivor's [section] 1983 deliberate indifference action against county and officers, was for the jury, given the cellmates' and other witnesses' accounts of the detainee's vomiting and exhibiting other signs of serious illness within plain view of officers without any response from them, and given testimony as to the inmates' various complaints to officers regarding his condition. According to the court, issues of whether the county had a custom or practice of failing to timely review jail inmates' medical requests, and a causal link between such failure and the death of the pretrial detainee from pneumococcal meningitis were for the jury. The court noted that the supervisor and individual medical technicians for the contractor that handled medical services for inmates testified to the practice of not retrieving inmate medical requests on a daily basis, and the detainee's fellow inmates testified to having filed numerous medical requests on the detainee's behalf. The court found that a causal link was not shown between the county sheriffs department's alleged policy of understaffing the county jail and the pretrial detainee's death from pneumococcal meningitis. Although individual deputies employed as corrections officers were shown to have known of and ignored the detainee's medical needs, there was no evidence that such inaction was due to understaffing rather than other causes. The court found that a compensatory damages award of $4 million was not excessive. The award was not out of line when measured against those in other similar cases, and the award had rational connection with evidence that the detainee was 32 years old, had three children whom he supported, and had died of a treatable illness after numerous fellow inmates had alerted corrections officers about his condition. (Cook County Jail, Illinois) U.S. Appeals Court CLASS Valdivia v. Schwarzenegger, 599 F.3d 984 ACTION INJUNCTIVE RELIEF (9th Cir. 2010). Parolees brought a class action alleging a state's parole revocation procedures violated their due process rights. After entering a permanent injunction for the parolees, the district court entered an order granting the parolees' motion to enforce a paragraph of the injunction concerning the use of hearsay evidence, and subsequently entered an order granting their motion to enforce the injunction notwithstanding passage of an allegedly conflicting voter proposition. An appeal was taken. The appeals court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the use of hearsay evidence was subject to balancing, but the district court abused its discretion in denying the state's motion to modify the injunction to conform with the voter proposition. (California) 28. MAIL U.S. District Court DELAY Johnson v. Boyd, 676 F.Supp.2d 800 (E.D. Ark. 2009). A state prisoner filed a civil rights action against a detention center and its personnel alleging several violations. The defendants moved for summary judgment and the district court granted the motion in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether detention center personnel failed to protect the prisoner from an attack by another prisoner. According to the court, the prisoner's First Amendment freedom of association and speech rights had not been violated by denial of his visitation, phone, and mailing privileges for two days as the direct result of the prisoner committing a disciplinary infraction while he was in protective custody. (Crittenden County Detention Center, Arkansas) U.S. District Court Kendrick v. Faust, 682 F.Supp.2d 932 CONFISCATION (E.D. Ark. 2010). A female state prison inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against employees of the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), alleging various violations of her constitutional rights. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the inmate failed to allege that she sustained an actual injury or that an Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) official denied her the opportunity to review her mail prior to its being confiscated, as required to support a claim that the official violated the inmates constitutional right of access to the courts and her First Amendment right to send and receive mail. The court found that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether there was a legitimate penological interest for the alleged destruction of the prison inmate's bible, precluding summary judgment as to whether ADC employees violated the inmate's right to freedom of religion by destroying her bible. (Arkansas Department of Corrections) U.S. Appeals Court Keup v. Hopkins, 596 F.3d 899 (8 Cir. LIMITATION LIMITING 2010). A prisoner brought a [section] CORRESPONDENTS 1983 action against prison officials, alleging that they violated his First Amendment rights by preventing him from mailing drawings. The prisoner had tried to send drawings of a marijuana leaf and a bare-breasted woman to his mother and the Maoist...
Part two: case summaries by major topic.
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