This case is an excellent discussion of issues to be considered in inmate abuse cases (8th Amendment – Cruel and Unusual Punishment). It was sent to me by my good friend and excellent lawyer, Steve Hampton.
If you know anyone pursuing such a claim, send them this case to read.
The interesting issue here is “deliberate indifference”, as opposed to so many cases where the plaintiff says the officials acted “intentionally”. The good thing here is that the Court ruled that there was deliberate indifference and so the case could proceed.
“Deliberate indifference” often is alleged regarding health issues repeatedly ignored by health care providers and prison staff.
Summary of the case:
United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
Kelly Jane RHODES, Plaintiff-Appellant,
State of MICHIGAN, et al., Defendants,
Paul McPherson; Richard Jones, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: April 29, 2021
Decided and Filed: August 24, 2021
Background: State inmate filed § 1983 action against state, its department of corrections, and prison officials asserting violations of Eighth Amendment, substantive due process, and state law after she was injured when industrial laundry cart fell from truck from which it was being unloaded and struck her. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Terrence G. Berg, J., 2020 WL 978296, entered summary judgment in favor of officials directly involved in incident on basis of qualified immunity, and inmate appealed.
Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Moore, Circuit Judge, held that:
fact issues remained as to whether laundry truck driver was deliberately indifferent to substantial risk of serious harm to inmate;
fact issues remained as to whether corrections officer who operated laundry truck’s hydraulic lift gate was deliberately indifferent to substantial risk of serious harm to inmate;
fact that inmate volunteered to be laundry porter did not preclude her from raising Eighth Amendment claim;
it was clearly established at time of incident that Eighth Amendment’s conditions-of-confinement protections applied to prison work conditions; and
officials were not liable under state-created danger doctrine for violating inmate’s due process rights.
Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
You can read the case here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1g701-LZwLLcFibzAMS5jcf74dXHMIuU9/edit