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Bates v. Jean

October 12, 1984

LEON BATES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
J. W. JEAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 82 C 287 -- John C. Shabaz, Judge.

Author: Coffey

Before BAUER, CUDAHY, and COFFEE, Circuit Judges.

COFFEY, Circuit Judge

Pro se plaintiff, Leon Bates, brought this suit under the Fifth and Eighth Amendments against four federal correctional officers alleging that he was beaten by them before boarding a bus to take him from the Federal Correctional Institution at Oxford, Wisconsin, to the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The jury, in answer to two special verdict questions, found that one of the defendants, James Jean, had intentionally violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights, but concluded that Jean had acted in good faith. The district court entered judgment for the defendants and the plaintiff appeals. The plaintiff, now represented by counsel in this court, requests that the judgment in favor of Jean be reversed because the two special verdicts are inconsistent. Finding the special verdicts irreconcilable, we vacate the judgment as to Jean and remand that portion of the jury verdict to the district court for the new trial.

The incident underlying this lawsuit took place on February 5, 1982, when 36 prisoners were being transferred from a federal correctional institution in Wisconsin to a federal correctional institution in the state of Kansas. The defendants in this action were federal correctional guards at the time of the altercation. At trial, the plaintiff testified that he had asked Jean, the guard who was to accompany the prisoners on the bus ride, for permission to use the bathroom before boarding the bus and that Jean refused him permission. The plaintiff then made the same request of another defendant, Reginald LaRue. According to a plaintiff's witness, Jean overheard the request and rushed at the plaintiff with a chain shouting, "I told him no!" and, "Let's get the son-of-a-bitch." The plaintiff testified that the defendants descended on him and that his arm was injured. The defendants agreed that the plaintiff's glasses were broken in a struggle, but denied having hit the plaintiff. The defendants also testified that a rapid and forceful response to the plaintiff's seeming defiance was required because they feared that the other inmates would attempt a jail break. At the time, approximately twenty-five other inmates were in the same holding area with the plaintiff, and only ten of them were in handcuffs.

After presentation of the evidence in the one day trial, both sides submitted proposed jury instructions, including an instruction on the issue of good faith. The trial judge gave the respective parties copies of the special interrogatories that he had drafted. The plaintiff, who was proceeding pro se, objected to neither the interrogatories nor the instructions.

After deliberating for one hour, the jury returned the special verdict forms to the clerk, with the following answers:

1.Which of the following defendants, if any, knowingly and intentionally deprived plaintiff of liberty and subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment?

None

X James W. Jean

R. A. LaRue

William Mauer

Richard Laabs

If you checked none in Question 1, answer no more questions. If you checked any names in question 1, answer the following question with ...


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