Civil Rights: Inmate Sex Abuse Case Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

CZW successfully defended the Comanche County Facilities Authority (CCFA) in the recent case of Blueberry v. CCFA. Five former detainees brought claims against the CCFA under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that they were sexually abused while in custody of the Comanche County Detention Center in violation of their Eighth Amendment rights.  The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted summary judgment to the CCFA finding that there were no disputed issues of material fact and that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate deliberate indifference on the part of the CCFA Administrator, who was the final policymaker for the Detention Center, and had failed to establish that the CCFA’s policies, practices, or customs had caused the alleged abuse.  On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s holding, finding that there was no evidence that the CCFA followed a pattern or custom of disregarding allegations of sexual abuse against detainees, and that there was no evidence that the CCFA had actual knowledge of an excessive risk to the safety of the plaintiffs.  Rather, the Tenth Circuit found that only one detainee had reported the sexual abuse to Detention Center staff and the fact that the Detention Center immediately began an investigation and suspended the detention officer involved after her report demonstrated that the CCFA did not disregard allegations of sexual abuse of detainees.  The Tenth Circuit also found that plaintiffs had failed to make a showing that “blind spots” in the Detention Center’s surveillance camera coverage presented such an obvious risk of harm that the CCFA was aware of such risk before the incidents alleged in this case.  The Tenth Circuit also found that there was no evidence that the CCFA’s failure to enforce its policy of conducting written performance evaluations of Detention Center employees caused or contributed to the alleged violations of their rights.  The Tenth Circuit further held that, to the extent that the plaintiffs argued that additional policies were needed to protect them from serious harm, they had failed to specify what such policies would be and that there was no evidence that the failure to enact such additional policies caused their alleged injuries or amounted to deliberate indifference that their rights would be violated.  For complete opinion, click here.

By | 2017-08-02T14:36:13+00:00 December 14th, 2016|42 U.S.C. § 1983, Civil rights, Excessive Force, Jail, Law enforcement, Litigation|0 Comments