Eighth Amendment right of jail inmate to be free from deliberate indifference to risk of suicide; qualified immunity

Estate of Clark v. Walker, 865 F.3d 544 (7th Cir. 2017)

Seventh Circuit denies motion for summary judgment and claims of qualified immunity by jail deputy and contract nurse in suicide case, where deceased inmate’s estate alleged defendants failed to follow jail’s suicide protocols despite testing that showed maximum suicide risk; private contract nurse found ineligible to invoke qualified immunity.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 3

Eighth Amendment violations due to inhumane prison conditions and lack of treatment; inmate suicide

Palakovic v. Wetzel, 854 F.3d 209 (3rd Cir. 2017)

Third Circuit reverses the trial court’s grant of defendants’ motions to dismiss claims brought by estate of inmate who committed suicide in prison, holding that the district court erred by (1) improperly applying the guidelines for determining the liability of facility staff for an inmate’s suicide, and (2) improperly denying claims that the prison was liable for subjecting the inmate to inhumane conditions and being deliberately indifferent to his documented mental illness, separate and apart from his suicide.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 2

Eighth Amendment/Conditions of Confinement/Deliberate Indifference

Rasho v. Elyea, No. 14-1902, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3976 (7th Cir. Mar. 7, 2017)

Eighth Amendment/Conditions of Confinement/Deliberate Indifference: Seventh Circuit reverses grant of summary judgment to contract psychiatrists in state prison system where inmate with serious mental illness alleges that psychiatrists effected his transfer out of a special mental health treatment unit in retaliation for the inmate’s grievances against staff, resulting in denial of effective treatment.

Found in DMHL Volume 36, Issue 1

Qualified Immunity, Duty of Care, Jails and Prisons

Bays v. Montmorency Cty., 874 F.3d 264 (6th Cir. 2017)

Sixth Circuit ruled that there is a clearly established Fourteenth Amendment right to sufficient treatment for a serious medical problem and upheld a district court’s denial of qualified immunity to a jail nurse where there was evidence that the nurse acted with deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious mental illness.

Found in DMHL Volume 37, Issue 1

Law Struck Down that Established Means to Override Advance Directives and Involuntarily Medicate Individuals Civilly Committed or Imprisoned

Hargrave v. Vermont, 340 F.3d 27 (2d Cir. 2003)

The Second Circuit struck down a Vermont law that allowed the state to involuntarily medicate individuals who had been civilly committed or judged  mentally ill while imprisoned, notwithstanding a pre-existing durable power of attorney (DPOA) for health care to the contrary.  The Second Circuit ruled that such a law discriminated against individuals with a mental disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act....

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1

Ruling that Civil Rights Claim Can Be Pursued Against Police Officer for Failure to Inform Jail Officials Inmate on Verge of Attempti ng Suicide Not Disturbed

Cavalieri v. Shepard, 321 F.3d 616 (7th Cir. 2003), cert. denied, Shepard v. Cavalieri, 124 S. Ct. 531 (2003)

The Supreme Court declined to review a ruling of the Seventh Circuit that the mother of a jail inmate was entitled to pursue a civil rights claim against a police officer for his alleged failure to inform jail officials that her son was on the verge of trying to commit suicide.  The Seventh Circuit rejected the officer's argument that his duty to inform ended when the pretrial detainee was transferred from municipal to county custody....

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1

Two-Year Ban on Visits to Inmates with Two Substance-Abuse Violations Upheld

Overton v. Bazzetta, 123 S. Ct. 2162 (2003)

The Supreme Court upheld a Michigan prison regulation that prisoners with two substance abuse violations could not receive any visitors except attorneys and members of the clergy for two years.  In a unanimous decision, the Court noted drug smuggling and drug use in prison are intractable problems and asserted withdrawing visitation privileges is a proper and even necessary management technique to induce compliance with the rules governing inmate behavior.  The Court did add it might reach a different conclusion if the ban was for a much longer period of time, treated as a de facto permanent ban, or applied in an arbitrary manner to a particular inmate...

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1

Privatization by Puerto Rico of Prison Inmates' Medical and Mental Health Services Upheld for the Time Being; Ruling Not Disturbed

Feliciano v. Rullan, 378 F.3d 42 (1st Cir. 2004)

Since the 1970s, class action lawsuits have been brought against many states challenging the medical and mental health care provided in their correctional systems.  In part because many of these lawsuits deeply enmeshed the federal courts in the supervision of prisons and jails for an extended period of time, Congress enacted the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) in 1996 to curb the involvement of the federal courts in day-to-day prison  management...

Found in DMHL Volume 24 Issue 2

Sufficient Facts Alleged Regarding Suicide of Detainee to Permit "Deliberate Indifference" Lawsuit Targeting Jail Staff to Continue

Short v. McEathron, No. Civ.A.5:04 CV 00043, 2004 WL 2475561 (W.D. Va. 2004)

Suicides and suicide attempts by jail and prison inmates with a mental disorder are unfortunately not a rare event.  Following an inmate suicide, a lawsuit may be filed that asserts that correctional officials did not take adequate steps to prevent the suicide.  The United States Supreme Court in Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 848 (1994), established that a prison official may be held liable under federal law if the official "knows that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregards that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it."  Such a complaint is widely referred to as a "deliberate indifference" claim...

Found in DMHL Volume 24 Issue 1

Employee Who Was Sexually Assaulted at a Correctional Facility for Inmates with Psychiatric Problems Can Only Turn to Workers' Compensation for Recovery

Gilbert v. Commonwealth,  No. 03-199 (Va. Cir. Ct. June 3, 2004)

In general, when employees are injured in the course of work, they must turn to a state-run workers' compensation plan for recovery. These plans are intended to ensure compensation in a quick and reliable manner and do not require employees to show that the employer was at fault in connection with the injury. At the same time, the worker's compensation plan also places limitations on the size of the damages that can be recovered...

Found in DMHL Volume 24 Issue 1

Hospital and Physician Liable Under EMTALA for Transferring Suicidal and Intoxicated Patient to Jail for Protective Custody

Carlisle v. Frisbie Mem'I Hosp., 888 A.2d 405 (N.H. 2005)

A recently completed national survey of hospitals found that 55% of all hospital admissions  (excluding  pregnancy  and childbirth)  in 2003 entered the hospital  through the hospital's emergency  department, a total of 16 million patients.  The fifth most­ often given reason for admission was mental health and substance abuse disorders  (5.8% or nearly 1,000,000 patients, with 387,500 patients admitted for the treatment of mood disorders).   Anne Elixhauser & Pamela Owens, Reasons for Being Admitted to the Hospital  Through the Emergency  Department, 2003, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (H·CUP) (Feb. 2006), http://www.hcup­ us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs.jsp...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 2

Lawsuit Can Continue that Alleges Inadequate Mental Health Care Contributed to Suicide of Inmate in Virginia Maximum Security Prison

Simmons v. Johnson, No. 7:05 CV 00053, 2005 WL 2671537 (W.D. Va. Oct. 20, 2005)

The United States Supreme Court, in Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), established that the Eighth Amendment is violated when prison officials are deliberately indifferent to an inmate's serious illness or injury.  This ruling has been widely interpreted to encompass an inmate's serious mental health needs as well.  When an inmate commits suicide, a lawsuit may be filed that asserts that the inmate's constitutional rights were violated because prison officials failed to provide the requisite adequate mental health services despite knowing of the inmate's mental health needs, and the absence of these services contributed to the inmate's suicide...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 2

Prison Sentence Imposed on Parents Who Hosted Teen Beer Party Is Upheld

Robinson v. Commonwealth, 625 S.E.2d 651 (Va. Ct. App. 2006)

Underage drinking has been recognized as a significant public health concern. For example, the annual social cost of underage drinking in the United States has been estimated at $53 billion, including $19 billion from traffic crashes and $29 billion from violent crime. In a 2005 nationwide survey of high school seniors, 47% reported consuming alcohol in the past month. A number of law­ related efforts have been employed in an effort to curb this consumption, including imposing greater legal liability on parents who permit or promote this activity...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 2

Random Drug Tests of State Employees Providing Mental Health Services to Prisoners and to Residents of State Hospitals Upheld; Ruling Not Disturbed

lnt'I Union v. Winters, 385 F.3d 1003 (6th Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 1972 (2005)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the Sixth Circuit that upheld a random drug testing program imposed by the State of Michigan on various state employees. Among the employees subject to testing are psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses who provide health and mental health services to prisoners and residents at state hospitals for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.  It has been established that random drug tests constitute a "search" and the Fourth Amendment generally protects individuals from searches without an "individualized suspicion'' justifying the search.  However, an exception to this requirement exists when a state can show a special need for the drug test...

Found in DMHL Volume 25 Issue 1

US Supreme Court Orders California to Reduce Prison Population for Failure to Provide Constitutionally Adequate Treatment for Inmates with Serious Mental Illness


Brown, Governor of California, et al. v. Plata, et al., No. 09-1233, decided May 23, 2011
Slip opinion found at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-1233.pdf

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the United States Supreme Court upheld the decision of a three-judge panel entered under the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PLRA”) ordering California to reduce its prison population by 137.5% of its original design capacity, or by 46,000 prisoners, within two years in order to address severe and unconstitutional conditions related to the delivery of mental health and medical care to California’s 156,000 inmates.

This decision is the result of two consolidated federal class action suits challenging the mental health and medical conditions in California’s prisons. The first, Coleman v. Wilson, 912 F. Supp. 1282 (E.D. Calf. 1995), was filed in 1990 alleging that deplorable mental health care constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. After a 39-day trial, the court found the prisons severely and chronically understaffed with no method for ensuring competence of staff. The prisons failed to implement necessary suicide precautions due to severe understaffing and mentally ill inmates languished for months and years without access to care, suffering severe hallucinations and decompensating to catatonic states. After 12 years, a Special Master appointed to oversee remedial efforts reported that after slow improvement, the status of mental health care was again deteriorating. A rise in the prison population had led to greater demand for care, and existing program space and staffing levels were inadequate to keep pace. In 2006, at the time of trial before the three-judge panel, the suicide rate was approaching one per week with the suicide rate nearly 80% higher than the national average for prison populations. Suicidal inmates were held for prolonged periods in telephone booth-size cages without toilets. Slip Opn. at 11. According to the Special Master, 72.1% of suicides involved “some measure of inadequate assessment, treatment, or intervention, and were therefore most probably foreseeable and/or preventable.” Slip Opn. at 12. In 2007, the rate had risen to 82% and by 2010 there had been no improvement.

A second class action, Plata v. Brown, was filed in 2001, in which California conceded that deficiencies in prison medical care violated the Eighth Amendment. When the State had not complied with the remedial injunction issued, the Court appointed a Receiver to oversee the remedial efforts. Three years later, the Receiver described equally deplorable continuing deficiencies in medical care. In one prison, up to 50 sick inmates were held together in one 12 foot x 20 foot cage up to five hours awaiting treatment. The Coleman and Plata plaintiffs thereupon requested their respective district courts to convene a three-judge panel to order reductions in the prison population.

The Supreme Court held that if a prison deprives inmates of their basic needs for sustenance, including adequate mental health and medical care, courts have a responsibility to remedy the Eighth Amendment violations. Under the PLRA, only a three-judge panel may enter an order imposing a population limit and only after a district court has entered an order for less intrusive relief that has failed after the state has been given reasonable time for compliance. Before doing so, that court must also first consider a range of options, and then find by clear and convincing evidence that crowding is the primary cause of the violations, no other relief will remedy the situation and the relief is narrowly drawn and the least intrusive means to correct the violations. The court must also consider any adverse impact such a population limit will have on public safety and the operation of the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court thus held that the three judge-panel had properly heard evidence of then-current conditions and that no other relief short of imposing a population limit would remedy the situation. California indicates that it is proceeding to implement measures to reduce its prison population, but with the State’s severe budget crisis, it remains to be seen how effective its efforts will be.

Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Alito also filed a dissenting opinion in which Chief Justice Roberts joined.

Found in DMHL Volume 30 Issue 5

Treatment of Mentally Ill Individuals in Custodial Settings: Custodial Interrogation

Police conduct with 18-year-old with Intellectual Disability is coercive under “totality of the circumstances”, rendering confession inadmissible

United States v. Preston, 751 F.3d 1008, 1010 (9th Cir. 2014)

The 9th Circuit, sitting en banc, held that under the totality of the circumstances, including the eighteen-year-old defendant's intellectual disability, a confession that resulted from police questioning was involuntarily given and should not have been admitted at trial. In reaching this decision, the court overruled Derrick v. Peterson, 924 F.2d 813 (9th Cir.1991) as well as subsequent cases relying on it, which had held that individual characteristics are “relevant to our due process inquiry only if we first conclude that the police's conduct was coercive.”

The court divided its initial inquiry into two categories—defendant’s reduced mental capacity and the techniques used during the interrogation. As to the first category, the court found that the intellectually impaired have a demonstrated increased vulnerability to coercion. The court also relied on scholarly assessment of common traits of intellectually disabled persons that may make them more susceptible to coercive interrogation techniques and then used those traits to inform their analysis of the techniques used to question the defendant, noting that “[A]s interrogators have turned to more subtle forms of psychological persuasion, and away from physical coercion, courts have found the mental condition of the defendant a more significant factor in the ‘voluntariness' calculus.”

The court based its totality of the circumstances inquiry into the coercive nature of the interrogation on several factors: (1) defendant's severe intellectual impairment, (2) repetitive questioning and the threats that questioning would continue without end, (3) pressure placed on the defendant to adopt certain responses, (4) the use of alternative questions that assumed defendant’s culpability, (5) the officers' multiple deceptions about how the statement would be used, (6) suggestive questioning that provided details of the alleged crime, and (7) false promises of leniency and confidentiality.

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 1

Treatment of Mentally Ill Individuals in Custodial Settings: Eighth Amendment

Failure to follow national suicide screening prevention standards with prisoner who later commits suicide presents colorable eighth amendment claim that survives summary judgment motion

Barkes v. First Corr. Med., Inc., 766 F.3d 307 (3d Cir. 2014)

After Christopher Barkes committed suicide while being held at a correctional facility in Delaware, his wife and children brought a § 1983 suit against the commissioner of the state department of corrections (“DOC”), the warden, and the private company with whom the DOC contracted to provided medical services to the prison (“FCM”) alleging violations of the Eighth Amendment of the federal Constitution.

When Barkes was arrested in November, 2004, he underwent a medical intake screening procedure conducted by a licensed nurse employed by LCM, the private contractor hired to provide medical services to the prison. The procedure involved (1) a self-report intake form that included questions about suicidal ideation, (2) screening for seventeen suicide risk factors, and (3) a standard medical intake form with questions about “altered mental status ... or abnormal conduct.” Barkes indicated that he had attempted suicide in 2003, but made no mention of three other attempts (one in 1997 and two in 2004) and checked only two of the seventeen suicide screening factors (eight were required to initiate suicide prevention measures). Finally, the licensed practical nurse who conducted the evaluation reported that Barkes showed no signs of either altered mental status or abnormal conduct. Barkes did, however, place a call to his wife that evening and express his intention to kill himself, but his wife did not inform the DOC. The next morning, Barkes was observed lying on his bed in his cell at 10:45, 10:50, and 11:00 a.m. When an officer came to deliver his lunch at 11:35 a.m., Barkes had hanged himself with a bed sheet.

The Third Circuit held (1) for purposes of determining whether the warden and DOC commissioner were entitled to qualified immunity, Barkes’ constitutional right to “proper implementation of adequate suicide prevention tools” was clearly established at the time of his suicide; (2) that summary judgment was inappropriate given evidence that “FCM's policies and procedures in place at the time of Barkes's suicide created an unreasonable risk of a constitutional deprivation;” and (3) that a reasonable jury could have found that Barkes’ suicide was caused by the DOC’s failure to supervise FCM. The second holding was based on evidence of the DOC’s awareness that “FCM's suicide prevention screening practices were not in compliance with [National Commission on Correctional Health Care] standards, as required by their contract with the DOC.” The Third Circuit reached its third holding despite the fact that Barkes did not self-report any suicidal ideation or exhibit any suicidal behavior because, in the court’s view, “had Appellants properly supervised FCM and ensured compliance with the contract, Barkes's answers during his screening would have resulted in additional preventive measures being taken.”

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 1


Because no Supreme Court precedent established a right to suicide prevention protocols, corrections officials were entitled to qualified immunity in case involving claim that inmate suicide arose from facility’s violation of inmate’s Eighth Amendment right to appropriate suicide screening, treatment and monitoring

Taylor v. Barkes, 135 S.Ct. 2042 (2015) (per curiam)

Christopher Barkes was arrested in 2004 for violating probation and was taken to a Department of Corrections (DOC) facility in Wilmington, Delaware, where he underwent a suicide screening based on a model form developed by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) in 1997 as part of intake procedures. The intake was completed by a nurse from the contractor employed by the facility (First Correctional Medical, Inc. [FCM]). Barkes stated that he had attempted suicide in 2003 and disclosed that he had a history of psychiatric treatment, but said that he was not currently contemplating suicide. The nurse gave Barkes a routine referral to mental health services and did not initiate any special suicide prevention measures. Barkes was placed in a cell by himself. He placed a call to his wife that evening and expressed his intention to kill himself, but his wife did not inform the DOC. The next morning, Barkes was observed lying on his bed at 10:45, 10;50, and 11:00 am. At 11:35 am, an officer delivered lunch to the cell and discovered that Barkes had hanged himself with a bedsheet.

The Third Circuit held that Barkes’s constitutional right to “proper implementation of adequate suicide prevention tools” was clearly established at the time of his suicide. It also held that summary judgment was inappropriate given evidence that “FCM’s policies and procedures…created an unreasonable risk of a constitutional deprivation” and evidence of DOC’s awareness of FCM’s non-compliance with NCCHC standards. Finally, it held that a reasonable jury could have found that Barkes’s suicide was caused by the DOC’s failure to supervise FCM despite the fact that Barkes did not self-report suicidal ideation or exhibit suicidal behavior. In the court’s view, “had Appellants properly supervised FCM and ensured compliance with the national standards, Barkes’s answers during his screening would have resulted in additional preventive measures being taken.”

The Supreme Court reversed per curiam, holding that the right “to proper implementation of adequate suicide prevention protocols” was not clearly established “in a way that placed beyond debate the unconstitutionality of the [facility’s] procedures.” Although the Third Circuit found the right established by its own precedents, the Court emphasized that no Supreme Court decisions have established a right to proper implementation of adequate suicide prevention protocols or discussed suicide screening protocols. Thus, the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because they were not “contravening clearly established law,” even if the suicide screening and prevention measures had shortcomings.

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 2

Cruel and unusual punishment

Cox v. Glanz, No. 14-5022, 2015 WL 5210607 (10th Cir. Sept. 8, 2015)

Claim by surviving family member that inmate’s suicide was result of deliberate indifference by jail staff survives motion for summary judgment in claim against sheriff in his official capacity, but summary judgment is granted to sheriff on claim against him in his individual capacity due to qualified immunity

Background: Charles Jernegan surrendered to the Tulsa, Oklahoma jail in response to a warrant for his arrest. His intake screening included a mental health and suicide questionnaire. Jernegan reported that he was taking medication for paranoid schizophrenia, and he answered “yes” to questions asking about experience of paranoia and experience of nervousness or depression. Jail protocols called for a person with such responses being directly referred to mental health staff, but no such referral was made. Jernegan did deny to jail staff and a screening nurse that he had any suicidal thoughts. Jernegan later made a request to “talk” with jail mental health staff about unspecified “problems,” but the responding staff person reported that when she went to see Jernegan he had been moved to another cell. The staff person had not followed up on this or seen Jernegan when, two days later, Jernegan committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet. Jernegan’s mother brought § 1983 action against the county sheriff, in both his personal and official capacity, alleging that the jail’s “deliberate indifference” to her son’s mental health needs constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th amendment. The district court denied the sheriff's motion for summary judgment, on the grounds that there were facts in controversy in the matter that were determinative of the issue of the sheriff’s liability. The sheriff filed an interlocutory appeal.

Holdings: Qualified immunity for individual liability granted and claim dismissed: A 3-judge panel found that at the time of Jernegan’s suicide in 2009, there was no “clearly established” law that would have put the sheriff on notice that his conduct constituted “deliberate indifference” to Jernegan’s mental condition in the jail in violation of the 8 th amendment. The Court found that the then-existing law required a threshold finding that the sheriff had personal knowledge that Mr. Jernegan “presented a substantial risk of suicide” before liability could attach. Summary judgment motion for official capacity liability claim denied: The sheriff argued that “official capacity” liability requires proof of a policy, pattern or practice that resulted in the alleged constitutional violation, and that the record did not support a finding of any such policy, pattern or practice in this case. The panel responded that, although denial of a claim of qualified immunity is a final action that can be heard and reviewed on interlocutory appeal, the denial of a motion for summary judgment that is unrelated to a denial of qualified immunity is not a final action and therefore cannot (except in rare instances) be heard and reviewed on interlocutory appeal.

Notable Points: The panel’s decision is notable for its review of federal case law relating to jail operations that would put jail officials on notice as to what conduct constitutes such “deliberate indifference” to an inmate’s condition that it amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8 th amendment. That review included mention of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Taylor v. Barkes, --- U.S. ----, 135 S. Ct. 2042 (2015) (per curiam), where the Court found that, as of November 2004, there was no clearly established "right" of an inmate to be adequately screened for suicide.

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 3

Cruel and unusual punishment

Young v. Martin, No. 13-4057, 2015 WL 5202968 (3d Cir. Sept. 8, 2015)

Claim by prisoner with history of mental illness and behavioral disorder that being restrained naked in a chair for 14 hours violated the 8 th amendment survives summary judgment

Background: State prisoner Young brought a § 1983 action alleging violations of the 8 th Amendment. Young had a long history of serious mental illness and extensive disciplinary problems in different Pennsylvania prisons, and had been in solitary confinement for several years, during which time his symptoms of mental illness had intensified. The incident resulting in his being placed naked in four-point mechanical restraint in a restraint chair occurred when a guard inadvertently left Young’s cell door open. Young went out to an internal ledge above the prison’s law library, where he voiced his objections to the conditions of his confinement. Young never acted aggressively, never threatened others, and when taken into physical custody by guards he initially cooperated, and then engaged in passive resistance, forcing guards to carry him but offering no active resistance to being stripped naked, subjected to a body cavity search and secured to the restraint chair. Prison policies provide for use of the restraint chair when an inmate acts or threatens to act in a manner that places the inmate or others at risk of harm, and provides for a maximum time period of 8 hours (with extension requiring a written request and approval that was never obtained here).

The district court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding that the guards “acted professionally and within constitutional parameters” in “subduing” Young and placing him in the restraint chair. The district court also denied Young’s request for a stay of the proceedings to allow for the release of the U.S. Department of Justice’s report on its investigation of the Pennsylvania prison system’s treatment of inmates with serious mental illness.

Holdings: A 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals found that the conduct of the guards alleged by Young fell under the “use of excessive force” test to determine whether Young had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8 th Amendment. Reviewing the record under the criteria identified in Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730 (2002)11 , and “drawing all inferences in favor of Young as the nonmoving party,” the Court ruled that “we cannot say that ‘there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.’”12 The Court thereupon remanded the case back to the district court. The panel directed that the district court on remand consider whether the DOJ report was admissible, and whether such admission would be “unduly prejudicial” to the defendants.

Notable Points:

Eighth amendment analysis of use of mechanical restraints—“excessive force” vs. “conditions of confinement”: The panel rejected the defendants’ claim that their treatment of Young should be analyzed under the “conditions of confinement” framework. The panel noted that the U.S. Supreme Court in Hope ruled that the use of mechanical restraints in a prison setting could constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Applying the Hope criteria, the panel found the following: (1) Young was already subdued, and further was not violent, combative or self-destructive at any point during the incident leading up to his being placed in the restraint chair, (2) the events involved in the incident leading to Young’s placement in the restraint chair did not amount to an “emergency situation,” and (3) there was an issue of fact as to whether the guards’ use of the restraint chair subjected Young to “substantial risk of physical harm” and “unnecessary pain.”

Qualified immunity of the guards: The panel noted that the defendants made a onesentence claim in their appeal that they were entitled to summary judgment on the grounds of qualified immunity—that the state of the law at that time did not give them fair warning that their treatment of Young was unconstitutional. Noting that this claim was not addressed by the district court or briefed on appeal, the panel remanded the issue to the district court for consideration.

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 3