Part two: case summaries by major topic.

PositionCase overview

According to the court, corrections officers who applied physical force to the resisting inmate during the transfer of the inmate, or were present when the inmate was unresponsive and requiring medical attention, were subject to liability, in their individual capacities, as to the [section] 1983 substantive due process claim brought by the inmate's mother.

The court held that the county sheriff and corrections officers who participated in the transfer of the inmate, who died following the transfer, were immune from negligence and wrongful death claims brought by the inmate's mother under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA) provision which categorically protected public employees acting within the scope of their employment from liability for "personal injury or death" caused by their individual negligence. But the court found that the mother properly alleged that county corrections officers' contact with the inmate amounted to excessive force, and that a supervisor instructed the use of excessive force, as required to state a claim for assault and battery, under Massachusetts law, against the officers. (South Bay House of Correction, Suffolk County, Massachusetts)


McBride v. Cahoone, 820 F.Supp.2d 623 (E.D.Pa. 2011). A state prisoner filed [section] 1983 action against his probation officer, and others, alleging violation of his constitutional rights after he was sent to prison for 83 days without a hearing for violation of his electronic monitoring program. The defendants moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) the state prisoner had a due process liberty interest in serving his sentence in home confinement; (2) his claim was not barred by Heck v. Humphrey; (3) the prisoner had standing to seek injunctive and declaratory relief; (4) the claim against the director of the state probation and parole department was not barred by the Eleventh Amendment; (5) the probation officer was not entitled to qualified immunity; (6) the probation officer was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity; and (7) the director of the state probation and parole department was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. The court noted that the prisoner pled guilty after a judge advised him repeatedly that if he accepted the government's plea offer, he would not serve any time in prison, but would carry out his sentence in electronically-monitored home confinement. (Delaware County Office of Adult Probation and Parole Services, Pennsylvania)


Morse v. Regents of University of California, Berkeley, 821 F.Supp.2d 1112 (N.D.Cal. 2011). A journalist arrested while covering a demonstration at a university sued the university's board of regents, its police department and various officers on the department, asserting [section] 1983 claims for violation of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment, as well as a claim for violation of the Privacy Protection Act. The defendants filed a partial motion to dismiss. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that the journalist stated a [section] 1983 claim for violation of the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment on the theory that the defendants added unsupported charges for the sole purpose of increasing his bail. The court found that the theory was viable under the Excessive Bail Clause, despite the indirect means the defendants allegedly used to obtain the higher bail, and the intervening actions of the judicial officer who actually set bail.

The court found that the journalist stated a [section] 1983 claim against the police chief in his individual capacity where the journalist asserted that the chief ailed to train or supervise those individuals who directly deprived the journalist of his constitutional rights and that, by his policy decisions, he set in motion the acts that deprived the journalist of his constitutional rights.

The court held that the journalist's claims that he was wrongfully arrested by university police and that his property was subject to searches and seizures without proper cause and without the proper warrants, stated a claim under the Privacy Protection Act (PPA) against the university police chief for failure to screen, train, and supervise. The court noted that the journalist's claim related specifically to the statutory provisions of the PPA, that he alleged sufficient facts to support his claim of a causal connection between the police chiefs conduct and the statutory violation, and liability was not limited to those personally involved in the statutory violation. (University of California, Berkeley)


Tookes v. U.S., 811 F.Supp.2d 322 (D.C.Cir. 2011). An arrestee brought an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) against the United States, alleging assault and battery, false imprisonment, and negligent training and supervision. The United States filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The district court granted the motion in part, and denied in part. The court held that the training and supervision of Deputy United States Marshals was a discretionary function, and therefore, the discretionary function exception to FTCA precluded subject matter jurisdiction of the arrestee's negligent training and supervision claims, following an alleged attack by marshals. The court noted that there were no statutes, regulations, or policies that specifically prescribed how to train or oversee marshals, and decisions involved social, economic, and political policy in that decisions had to balance budgetary constraints, public perception, economic conditions, individual backgrounds, office diversity, experience, public safety, and employee privacy rights, as well as other considerations. According to the court, there was no evidence that the arrestee should have known she could he diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following an alleged false imprisonment by United States marshals, and therefore, the arrestee was not limited from seeking greater damages for her emotional injuries than the amount claimed in her administrative form, in her FTCA claim.

The court found that summary judgment was precluded by a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the United States marshals falsely imprisoned the arrestee by bringing her back into a courthouse. (United States Marshals Services, District of Columbia)


Williams v. Hobbs, 662 F.3d 994 (8th Cir. 2011). A state inmate brought a [section] 1983 action against deputy director of a department of correction and various wardens alleging that his approximately 14-year continuous detention in administrative segregation violated his procedural due process rights. Following a bench trial, the district court found that four of the five defendants had denied the inmate due process, awarded $4,846 in nominal damages, and denied punitive damages. Both parties appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The court held that the inmate's administrative segregation reviews were not meaningful under the due process clause. The court noted that one warden testified that the inmate's seven-years' worth of clean history was irrelevant to him, another warden confirmed that even if the inmate proved to be a model prisoner his vote would always be that the inmate remain in administrative segregation in light of his past transgressions, and the wardens failed to explain to the inmate with any specificity why he constituted a continuing threat to the security and good order of prison. The court found that the director conducted his review in a meaningful fashion. The court ruled that the inmate was not entitled to a per-day nominal damages award for each day spent in administrative segregation, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion by not awarding punitive damages. (Tucker Maximum Security Unit, Arkansas)

U.S. District Court FTCA- Federal Tort Claims Act ATCA- Alien Tort Claims Act

Al-Zahrani v. Rodriguez, 669 F.3d 315 (D.C.Cir. 2012). Survivors of detainees who died at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base sued the United States and a host of government officials under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. The survivors asserted that the detainees had been subjected to physical and psychological torture and abuse, inadequate medical treatment and withholding of necessary medication, and religious abuse. The district court granted the government's motion to be substituted as the defendant on the ATCA claims and its motion to dismiss both the ATCA and the FTCA claims. The appeals court later denied the survivors' motion for reconsideration. The survivors appealed. The appeals court affirmed on other grounds. The appeals court held that habeas corpus statute amendments barred federal court jurisdiction over the action. (Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba)

U.S. Appeals Court INJUNCTIVE RELIEF RLUIPA- Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY DAMAGES

Alvarez v. Hill, 667 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir. 2012). A former inmate in the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) sued prison officials, alleging that ODOC employees substantially burdened the practice of his religion in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants and the inmate appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that Oregon's sovereign immunity barred the former inmate's Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT