Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position:P. 47-89 - Case overview

    U.S. District Court

    PLRA--Prison Litigation Reform Act

    Aref v. Holder, 953 F.Supp.2d 133 (D.D.C. 2013). Current and former prisoners brought an action against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), BOP officials, and the Attorney General, claiming that their First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated when they were placed in Communications Management Units (CMUs), in which their ability to communicate with the outside world was seriously restricted. Following dismissal of all but the procedural due process and First Amendment retaliation claims, the defendants moved to dismiss the First Amendment claims. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) the prisoner's release from BOP custody rendered moot his official-capacity claims for equitable relief; (2) a second prisoner sufficiently alleged a First Amendment retaliation claim; but (3) the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) barred the prisoners' individual-capacity claims against a BOP official for mental or emotional injury. (Federal Correctional Institutions in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Marion, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court


    Ford-Sholebo v. U.S., 980 F.Supp.2d 917 (N. D. Ill. 2013). The wife of a deceased pretrial detainee who suffered from a seizure disorder, individually and as administrator of the detainee's estate, brought a wrongful death action against the United States pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court held that: (1) evidence supported a finding that the detainee had a seizure disorder, (2) correctional facility employees breached the standard of care for treating the detainee's seizure disorder, (3) the employees' failures and breaches of the standard of care proximately caused the detainee's death; and (4) an award of damages to the wife in the amount of $40,000 for the loss of consortium was appropriate. The court noted that the testimony of the administrator's expert physician and a pathologist who was subpoenaed to testify at trial, that the detainee suffered from a seizure disorder, was overwhelmingly credible, while testimony of the government's two experts, that the detainee did not have seizure disorder, was incredible and unreliable. (Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago, and Kankakee County Detention Center, Illinois)

    U.S. Appeals Court


    Harrison v. Michigan, 722 F.3d 768 (6th Cir. 2013). A prisoner filed an action against a state and state officers seeking damages and injunctive relief stemming from his unlawful confinement in a prison system. The district court dismissed the action. The prisoner appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court found that the statute of limitations applicable to the prisoner's [section] 1983 complaint had not been triggered until the state court of appeals issued its holding that the prisoner had been improperly sentenced to consecutive terms for his convictions and remanded the case for entry of a corrected judgment. The court noted that although the prisoner apparently had learned that he was being held unlawfully while still in prison, he did not have knowledge of his injury until the state court of appeals established that he had suffered such an injury. (Michigan Department of Corrections, Michigan Parole Board)

    U.S. Appeals Court


    Junior v. Anderson, 724 F.3d 812 (7th Cir. 2013). A pretrial detainee brought a suit under [section] 1983 against a guard who allegedly failed to protect him from an attack by other inmates. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the guard, and the detainee appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to whether the guard acted with a conscious disregard of a significant risk of violence to the detainee, when she noted that two cells in the corridor where she was posted were not securely locked, but only noted that this was a "security risk" in her log. The guard then let several of the inmates who were supposed to remain locked up out of their cells, let them congregate in a darkened corridor, and then left her post, so that no guard was present to observe more than 20 maximum-security prisoners milling about The court found that the detainee was entitled to appointed counsel in his [section] 1983 suit against a prison guard. According to the court, although the case was not analytically complex, its sound resolution depended on evidence to which detainee in his distant lockup had no access, and the detainee needed to, but could not, depose the guard in order to explore the reason for her having left her post and other issues. (Cook County Jail, Illinois)

    U.S. District Court

    ADA- Americans with Disabilities Act





    Kramer v. Conway, 962 F.Supp.2d 1333 (N.D.Ga. 2013). A pretrial detainee at a county jail brought an action against the jail, the jail administrator, and a county sheriff, alleging that conditions of his confinement violated his right to practice his Orthodox Jewish faith, that the defendants violated his right to possess legal reference books, and that the defendants failed to accommodate his physical disabilities. The detainee moved for a preliminary and a permanent injunction and moved for leave to file a second amendment to his verified complaint. The defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court denied the motions in part and granted the motion in part. The court held that the pretrial detainee's allegation that the county jail denied him books needed to practice his Orthodox Jewish religious faith failed to establish a violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), absent evidence that the county jail received federal funds in connection with its policies limiting the number and type of books allowed in cells. The court held that the county jail's policy of limiting the number of religious books that the pretrial detainee, an Orthodox Jew, could keep in his cell, but providing him access to others that were not in his cell, was based on legitimate penological interests, and thus, did not violate the detainee's rights under the Free Exercise Clause. According to the court, a uniformly applied books-in-cell limitation was reasonable in a facility that housed 2,200 inmates, the limitation was applied in a neutral way and the expressive content of books was not considered, books in sufficient quantities could be used as weapons and presented fire and obstacle hazards, access to other books was made by exchanging out titles and by allowing the copying of parts or all of a text, and the detainee was not denied access to nine religious books he claimed were required in practicing his faith, but rather, argued only that access was required to be more convenient. The court held that the jail's policy that limited the number and type of books allowed in a cell did not violate the pretrial detainee's Due Process rights, where there was no evidence that the policy was intended to punish the detainee, the jail's policies prohibiting hard cover books and limiting the number of books allowed in a cell were reasonably related to legitimate penological interests, and the jail gave the detainee substantial access to legal materials by increasing the time he was allowed in the library and liberally allowing him to copy legal materials to keep in his cell.

    The court held that the jail, the jail administrator, and the county sheriffs denial of a typewriter in the pretrial detainee's cell to accommodate his alleged handwriting disability did not violate the detainee's rights under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court noted that the detainee was able to write by hand, although he stated he experienced pain when doing so. According to the court, if the detainee chose to avoid writing by hand he had substantial access to a typewriter in the jail's law library, there was no permanent harm from the handwriting he perforated, there was no evidence the detainee was not able to adequately communicate with lawyers and jail officials without a typewriter in his cell, and the accommodation of an in-cell typewriter would impose an undue burden on jail personnel because metal and moving parts of typewriter could be used as weapons. (Gwinnett County Jail, Georgia)

    U.S. District Court




    Poche v. Gautreaux, 973 F.Supp.2d 658 (M. D. La. 2013). A pretrial detainee brought an action against a district attorney and prison officials, among others, alleging various constitutional violations pursuant to [section] 1983, statutory violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), as well as state law claims, all related to her alleged unlawful detention for seven months. The district attorney and prison officials moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motions in part and denied in part. The court held that the detainee sufficiently alleged an official policy or custom, as required to establish local government liability for constitutional torts, by alleging that failures of the district attorney and the prison officials to implement policies designed to prevent the constitutional deprivations alleged, and to adequately train their employees in such tasks as processing paperwork related to detention, created such obvious dangers of constitutional violations that the district attorney and the prison officials could all be reasonably said to have acted with conscious indifference. The court found that the pretrial detainee stated a procedural due process claim against the district attorney and the prison officials under [section] 1983 related to her alleged unlawful detention for seven months, by alleging that it was official policy and custom of the officials to skirt constitutional...

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