Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position:P. 90-131 - Case overview
 
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U.S. Appeals Court

INADEQUATE CARE

ADA--Americans with Disabilities Act

POLICIES

Hahn v. Walsh, 762 F.3d 617 (7th Cir. 2014). A female pretrial detainee's estate brought an action against a county, sheriff, and medical services contractor, alleging the defendants failed to provide adequate medical treatment for the detainee's diabetes in violation of her rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and Illinois law. After several of the estate's claims were dismissed, the district court entered summary judgment for the defendants on the estate's remaining claims. The estate appealed. The appeals court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The court held that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing with prejudice the wrongful death claim brought by the detainee's estate for failure to include an affidavit and written report confirming the claim's merit, where the court made no specific finding that failure to include an affidavit and report was in bad faith or an attempt to delay litigation, and its conclusion that the estate could not timely file an amended complaint because the statute of limitations had lapsed failed to take into account the possibility that an amendment would relate back to the estate's initial, timely complaint.

The court found that the county sheriffs lack of a written policy or procedure for diabetic detainees whose blood sugar was not being measured and who refused to eat did not amount to deliberate indifference to the pretrial detainee's serious medical needs in violation of her due process rights. According to the court, the deaths of seven correctional facility inmates and a single incident of an inmate complaining about his diabetes treatment were insufficient to put the sheriff on notice that his lack of a policy could cause the death of a detainee as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis, as none of the deaths were caused by complications from diabetes. (Champaign County Correctional Center, Illinois)

U.S. Appeals Court

DELAY IN CARE

Henderson v. Ghosh, 755 F.3d 559 (7th Cir. 2014). An inmate brought an action against prisoner health care providers and other corrections employees, alleging that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs by failing to inform him of his declining kidney health until he had "stage 5 kidney failure." The district court denied the inmate's motions for recruitment of counsel during the pleading and discovery phases of the litigation, and granted summary judgment to the defendants. The inmate appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded. The appeals court held that the district court abused its discretion in denying the inmate's two requests for appointment of counsel, where the inmate had a low IQ, was functionally illiterate, and was inexperienced with civil litigation, and the inmate's claim was factually and legally complex, requiring complex medical evidence and retention of expert witnesses. The court held that the inmate was prejudiced by the failure of the district court to appoint counsel, where the inmate was unable to obtain any medical evidence in opposition to summary judgment, the inmate was unable to timely file requests for discovery, and the inmate was unable to identify "John or Jane Doe" defendants who were dismissed for failure to prosecute. (Stateville Correctional Center, Illinois)

U.S. Appeals Court

EMERGENCY CARE

INADEQUATE CARE

Jackson v. Buckman, 756 F.3d 1060 (8th Cir. 2014). A pretrial detainee brought a [section] 1983 action against corrections facility employees and corrections officials alleging he received constitutionally deficient medical care and that medical officials used excessive force against him while responding to his medical emergency. The district court granted summary judgment to the defendants, and the detainee appealed. The appeals court affirmed. The court held that: (1) a physician was not deliberately indifferent to the detainee's surgical wound on his abdomen; (2) a nurse was not deliberately indifferent to the detainee's medical needs; (3) absent an underlying constitutional violation, the detainee could not maintain official-capacity and failure-to-supervise claims against a sheriff and a chief of detention; (4) a nurse's act of hitting the pretrial detainee's nose while administering an ammonia inhalant was not excessive force; and (5) the force used by nurses to move the pretrial detainee to his bed after he lost consciousness was not excessive. (Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility, Arkansas)

U.S. Appeals Court

SUICIDE

MEDICATION

Johnson v. Conner, 754 F.3d 918 (11th Cir. 2014). The mother and personal representative of a mentally ill inmate who committed suicide by hanging himself with bed sheet while in custody at a county jail filed suit against corrections personnel working at the jail at the time of the suicide, as well as various county entities. The mother alleged that jailers were responsible for administering her son's medication daily, and failed to do so, that her son had previously attempted to commit suicide with a bed sheet while incarcerated, and that the jailers failed to take appropriate precautions with her son following that suicide attempt. The district court denied immunity to the jailers and the jailers appealed. The appeals court certified questions to the Alabama Supreme Court, which the Supreme Court declined to answer. The appeals court held that the statute extending immunity to county jailers did not apply retroactively to conduct which occurred prior to its enactment (Barbour County Jail, Alabama)

U.S. Appeals Court

MEDICAL CARE

King v. Kramer, 763 F.3d 635 (7th Cir. 2014). The estate of a pretrial detainee who died while awaiting trial in a county jail brought a civil rights action against the county and the health care provider for the jail. Following reversal in part of the grant of summary judgment in favor of the county and the provider, the court entered judgment for the county and the provider on a jury verdict. The estate appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded, finding that: (1) the county was not liable for the death of the detainee who was found dead in his jail cell after jail medical staff rapidly tapered off his psychotropic medication, absent evidence that the county had an official custom or policy in place to deprive inmates of their prescribed medications; (2) the district court could not take judicial notice of a contract between the county and the provider, and (3) the indemnification agreement between the county and the provider was inadmissible to show liability. (La Crosse Jail, Wisconsin)

U.S. Appeals Court

FAILURE TO PROVIDE CARE

DELIBERATE INDIFFERENCE

EMERGENCY CARE

Kitchen v. Dallas County, Tex., 759 F.3d 468 (5th Cir. 2014). The widow of a pretrial detainee who died of asphyxiation while he was being extracted from his jail cell brought a [section] 1983 action against the county detention officers, and others, alleging that the defendants used excessive force and acted with deliberate indifference to the detainee's medical needs. The defendants moved for summary judgment The district court granted the motion in its entirety, and the plaintiff appealed. The appeals court reversed and remanded in part and affirmed in part. The court held that summary judgment was precluded by genuine issues of material fact as to both the timing and the degree of force used in extracting the detainee from his jail cell The court noted that the law was "clearly established" at the relevant time that use of force against an inmate was reserved for good-faith efforts to maintain or restore discipline, rather than for the purpose of causing harm such that the defendants had reasonable warning that kicking, stomping, and choking a subdued inmate would violate the inmate's constitutional rights under certain circumstances. The court held that the widow failed to demonstrate that detention officers acted with deliberate indifference to the detainee's medical needs, even though they failed to contact medical staff prior to attempting to extract the detainee from his cell, where the need for participation of specialized staff to perform the extraction of a mentally ill inmate from a jail cell was not so apparent that even laymen would recognize this alleged medical need. (Dallas County Jail, Texas)

U.S. Appeals Court

GID--Gender Identity Disorder

FAILURE TO PROVIDE CARE

Kosilek v. Spencer, 774 F.3d 63 (1st Cir. 2014). A state inmate brought an action against the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC), alleging that the DOC's refusal to provide male-to-female sex reassignment surgery (SRS) to treat the inmate's gender identity disorder (GID) constituted inadequate medical care and deliberate indifference to the inmate's serious medical needs, in violation of the Eighth Amendment The district court granted an injunction requiring the DOC to provide SRS, and the DOC appealed. The appeals court reversed. The court held that the DOC's decision not to provide SRS to treat the inmate's GID was not sufficiently harmful to the inmate so as to violate the Eighth Amendment, and the DOC was not deliberately indifferent in refusing to provide SRS. The court noted that the DOC continued to provide all ameliorative measures to the inmate, in addition to antidepressants and psychotherapy. The DOC solicited the opinion of multiple medical professionals, and the DOC's concerns about safety and security, including the provision of safe housing options for the inmate after SRS, were reasonable, according to the court. (Massachusetts Department of Corrections)

U.S. Appeals Court

METHADONE

Laganiere v. County of Olmsted, 772 F.3d 1114 (8th Cir. 2014). The trustee for a state inmate's heirs and next of km filed a [section] 1983 action alleging that officials at a county adult detention center deliberately disregarded the inmate's...

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