Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Washington v. Laporte County Sheriff's Department

October 07, 2002

FRED WASHINGTON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LAPORTE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, LAPORTE COUNTY JAIL, AND ROBERT BLAIR, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS FORMER CAPACITY AS SHERIFF OF LAPORTE COUNTY, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No. 3:00-CV-0506-RM--Robert L. Miller, Jr., Judge.

Before Bauer, Posner, and Williams, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Williams, Circuit Judge

ARGUED MAY 28, 2002

While Fred Washington was detained in the LaPorte County Jail, he was attacked by another inmate and lost an eye. Washington filed suit against the jail and its officers, alleging that his injury was caused by the prison's cell assignment policy in violation of his constitutional right to due process. He now appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Since Washington has not provided any evidence as to the prison officials' state of mind regarding the jail's conditions, we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

I. BACKGROUND

Fred Washington was charged with driving with a suspended license and detained in the LaPorte County Jail pending trial, as he could not post bond. He was assigned to a cell block originally designed to house ten inmates but which actually housed seventeen. Prison officials allowed inmates to choose their own cell assignments; Washington shared a cell with another inmate, Carl Hood.

After bunking with Hood for approximately two weeks without incident, a new inmate arrived in the cell block who belonged to the same gang as Hood. Washington was "neutral," i.e., not affiliated with any gang. Washington returned to his bunk that evening to find Hood throwing Washington's possessions out of their shared cell and into the common area. This led to a physical confrontation which ended when other inmates intervened. A different inmate offered Washington a new bunk, Hood's gang associate took Washington's old bunk, and Washington and Hood shook hands, which Washington understood to signal the end of the conflict. Neither Washington nor the other inmates notified guards in the area of the altercation.

Later that evening, while Washington was watching television in the common area, Hood approached from behind and hit Washington in the eye with a "sock jack," a weapon made of soap bars wrapped in a sock. Other inmates again intervened, stopping any further fighting.

Washington did not notify the guards of the incident, but when another inmate saw the seriousness of the injury, he called the guards and Washington received immediate medical attention. Upon arrival at a local hospital, doctors determined that the damage to the eye was irreparable and removed it.

Washington filed suit against the LaPorte County Sheriff, the LaPorte County Jail, and several prison officers for violation of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the lack of specific bunk assignments caused his injury and demonstrated "deliberate indifference" on the part of prison officials to a substantial risk of serious harm. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

II. ANALYSIS

We review de novo the district court's decision to grant summary judgment. Traylor v. Brown, 295 F.3d 783, 787 (7th Cir. 2002). A court may grant summary judgment only if there exists no genuine issue of material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c).

Since Washington was a pre-trial detainee, we examine his § 1983 claim under the Due Process Clause rather than the Eighth Amendment. See Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 537 n.16 (1979), Zentmeyer v. Kendall Cty., Ill., 220 F.3d 805, 810 (7th Cir. 2000). The protections for pre-trial detainees are "at least as great as the Eighth Amendment protections available to a convicted prisoner," City of Revere v. Mass. Gen. Hosp., 463 U.S. 239, 244 (1983), and we frequently consider the standards to be analogous. See Jackson v. Illinois Medi-Car, Inc., 300 F.3d 760, 764 (7th Cir. 2002). Since the parties base their arguments on Eighth Amendment precedent, we examine them under that standard. Estate of Cole v. Fromm, 94 F.3d 254, 259 n.1 (7th Cir. 1996).

While prison officials have a duty to protect inmates from violence at the hands of other inmates, not every injury within a prison is an Eighth Amendment violation. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). Prison officials have violated an inmate's Eighth Amendment rights if there was a risk of injury that objectively was "sufficiently serious," id.; see also Delaney v. DeTella, 256 F.3d 679, 683-86 (7th Cir. 2001), and if the officials showed "deliberate indifference" to that substantial risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834; see also Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 302- 03 (1991). To demonstrate "deliberate indifference," Washington must show actual knowledge by the officials and guards of the existence of the substantial risk and that the officials had considered the possibility that the risk could cause serious harm. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837. However, ordinary negligence by prison officials is not enough to show an Eighth Amendment violation. Sellers v. Henman, 41 F.3d 1100, 1102 (7th Cir. 1994); see also Snipes v. DeTella, 95 F.3d 586, 590 (7th Cir. 1996) ("Mere negligence or even gross negligence does not constitute deliberate indifference."). Prison officials "must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and [they] must also draw the inference." Farmer, 511 U.S. at 838. Farmer's standard does not require actual ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.