Part two: case summaries by major topic.

Position::58-89 - Case overview
 
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  1. LIABILITY

    U.S. District Court

    SPECIAL MASTER CONTEMPT SANCTIONS

    Balia v. Idaho State Bd. of Correction, 119 F.Supp.3d 1271 (D. Idaho 2015). State inmates filed a class action against the state board of correction and prison officials challenging conditions of their confinement. After the court found in the inmates' favor, a special master was appointed. Inmates filed a motion for sanctions or contempt after the officials destroyed and altered documents and otherwise presented misleading information to the special master when he visited a state correctional institution. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the institution's pattern of allowing its employees to manipulate inmate medical files warranted imposition of sanctions for spoliation of evidence, and an appropriate sanction was to restart the two-year monitoring period in the institution's compliance plan. (Idaho State Board of Correction, Idaho State Correctional Institution)

    U.S. District Court

    FAILURE TO INTERVENE

    Ewingv. Cumberland County, 152 F.Supp.3d 269 (D. N.J. 2015). A former arrestee brought a [section] 1983 action, bringing claims against county correctional officers, police officers, and a number of municipal entities for use of excessive force and other constitutional violations. The defendants filed nine motions for summary judgment. The district court held that (1) issues of fact existed as to whether the force used on detainee was imposed maliciously and sadistically to cause harm; (2) issues of fact existed as to whether two officers who were not in the room when excessive force was allegedly used on the pre-trial detainee knew of and failed to intervene in the assault; (3) issues of fact existed as to whether five correctional officers conspired to cover up their actions; (4) issues of fact existed as to whether the police officer who had taken the detainee back to the jail after a trip to the hospital had reason to believe that the detainee's safety was in jeopardy when the officer left the jail, and (5) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether the county trained its correctional officers on the use of force, whether the other trainings that took place were inadequate and untimely, whether that failure to train amounted to deliberate indifference, and whether there was a causal link between that lack of training and the injuries the detainee sustained at the hands of correction officers, precluding summary judgment for the defendants in the failure to train claim. According to the court, the detainee, while unarmed, suffered life-threatening injuries while in an isolated room with five officers, and that none of the officers were injured, indicated that the officers used force beyond what was necessary to take down the detainee, in a manner intended to inflict pain. The court noted that it was clearly established, at the time of the incident, that prisoners were protected from excessive force and wanton beatings that exceed good-faith efforts to maintain discipline and order, and a reasonable officer would have known that the force used was excessive. (Cumberland County Correctional Facility and Vineland Police Department, New Jersey)

    U.S. District Court

    FINES

    Font v. City of Ferguson, 107 F.Supp.3d 1016 (E.D. Mo. 2015). City residents brought a class action lawsuit against a city, asserting claims under [section] 1983 for violations of Fourth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments based on allegations that they were repeatedly jailed by the city for being unable to pay fines owed from traffic tickets and other minor offenses. The residents alleged that pre-appearance detentions lasting days, weeks, and in one case, nearly two months, in allegedly poor conditions, based on alleged violations of a municipal code that did not warrant incarceration in the first instance, and which were alleged to have continued until an arbitrarily determined payment was made, violated their Due Process rights. The residents alleged that they were forced to sleep on the floor in dirty cells with blood, mucus, and feces, were denied basic hygiene and feminine hygiene products, were denied access to a shower, laundry, and clean undergarments for several days at a time, were denied medications, and were provided little or inadequate food and water. The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the city's policies and practices violated their constitutional rights, and sought a permanent injunction preventing the city from enforcing the policies and practices. The city moved to dismiss. The district court granted the motion in part and denied in part. The court held that: (1) allegations that residents were jailed for failure to pay fines without inquiry into their ability to pay and without any consideration of alternative measures of punishment were sufficient to state a claim that the city violated the residents' Due Process and Equal Protection rights; (2) the residents plausibly stated a claim that the city's failure to appoint counsel violated their Due Process rights; (3) allegations of pre-appearance de tendons plausibly stated a pattern and practice of Due Process violations; (4) allegations of conditions of confinement were sufficient to state a plausible claim for Due Process violations; and (5) the residents could not state an Equal Protection claim for being treated differently, with respect to fines, than civil judgment debtors. The court noted that the residents alleged they were not afforded counsel at initial hearings on traffic and other offenses, nor were they afforded counsel prior to their incarceration for failing to pay court-ordered fines for those offenses. (City of Ferguson, Missouri)

    U.S. District Court

    INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

    Hernandez v. County of Monterey, 110 F.Supp.3d 929 (N.D. Cal. 2015). The plaintiffs, current and recently released jail inmates seeking relief on behalf of a class, brought an action against the county, the sheriff s office, and the private company that administered jail health care facilities and services, alleging that substandard conditions constituted deliberate indifference in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and failure to accommodate in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. The district court granted the motion. The court held that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits in their action, alleging that county jail conditions constituted deliberate indifference in violation of Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and failure to accommodate in violation of ADA. According to the court, there was significant evidence that the jail's policies and practices with regard to tuberculosis (TB) screening, suicide and self-harm prevention, alcohol and drug withdrawal, and continuing medical prescriptions, were noncompliant with contemporary standards and guidelines, placing inmates at risk and constituting deliberate indifference to their serious medical needs. The court also found that the preliminary injunction, targeting discrete county jail conditions, would be in the public interest where the public had an interest in preventing the spread of communicable diseases, enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and eliminating discrimination on the basis of disability. (Monterey County Jail, California)

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

    Jawad v. Gates, 113 F.Supp.3d 251 (D.D.C. 2015). A plaintiff, a citizen of Afghanistan and a former detainee at the United States Naval Facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at other U.S. military bases, brought an action against the U.S. Government and four individual defendants under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), and the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. The plaintiff alleged that he was detained without adequate due process, tortured, and otherwise subjected to inhumane treatment Government moved to dismiss the ATCA and FTCA claims, and the individual defendants moved to dismiss the TVPA and constitutional claims. The district court granted the motions, finding that the United States was properly substituted as the defendant, the complaint failed to state claim for violation of TVPA, and the Military Commissions Act (MCA) divested the district court of jurisdiction to hear claims regarding a former detainee's detention, transfer, treatment, and conditions of confinement. (Forward Operating Base 195, Afghanistan, and United States Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba)

    U.S. District Court

    INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY

    McNeill v. Allen, 106 F.Supp.3d 711 (W.D. N.C. 2015). A pre-trial detainee in a county detention facility brought an action against county sheriffs office captain under [section] 1983, alleging deliberate indifference to his medical needs in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court dismissed the case, finding that the detainee failed to plead personal involvement as required to maintain claim against sheriffs captain in his individual capacity under [section] 1983. The detainee alleged that jail staff did not adequately treat him for injuries he suffered after slipping on water in his jail cell. (Buncombe County Sheriffs Office and Jail, N. Carolina)

    U.S. District Court

    TVPA- Trafficking Victims Protection Act

    Menocal v. GEO Group, Inc., 113 F.Supp.3d 1125 (D. Colo. 2015). Current and former detainees at a private, for-profit immigration detention facility brought an action against the facility's owner-operator, alleging that a work program violated the Colorado Minimum Wage Order (CMWO) because detainees were paid $ 1 per day instead of the state minimum wage, that forcing detainees to clean living areas under the threat of solitary confinement violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's (TVPA) prohibition on forced labor, and that the owner-operator was unjustly enriched through the work program...

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