University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Slevin v. Board of County Commissioners of Dona Ana County PC-NM-0007
Docket / Court 1:08-cv-01185 ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On December 28, 2008, a prisoner at the Doña Ana County Detention Center ("the jail") filed a complaint against the jail in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff was ... read more >
On December 28, 2008, a prisoner at the Doña Ana County Detention Center ("the jail") filed a complaint against the jail in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff was mentally ill at the time of his arrest; he alleged that after he was booked into the jail, he was kept in administrative segregation for nearly two years and was subject to inhumane conditions of confinement and denied adequate medical care. As a result, he endured physical and mental deterioration. When Plaintiff was transferred out of jail for a psychiatric review after 18 months of solitary confinement, he was underweight, disheveled, and unaware he had spent the last 18 months in solitary confinement.

After only two weeks of mental health treatment, Plaintiff was returned to the jail and again placed in solitary confinement. Plaintiff requested medical and dental treatment and was denied both. Plaintiff was then forced to pull his own tooth. Ultimately the charges against Plaintiff for driving while intoxicated and receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle were dismissed and he was released from jail 22 months after he was arrested and booked.

Plaintiff filed a complaint and the case proceeded to trial. At trial, in January 2012, the jury found the jail and two individual employees liable for depriving Plaintiff of his constitutional rights to humane conditions of confinement, adequate medical care, and procedural due process, and as a result of these constitutional deprivations, found that Plaintiff was entitled to compensatory damages from the jail and punitive damages from the individual employees. Included among the specific findings of the jury are that Plaintiff's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated and that the DACDC was liable for false imprisonment and negligent operation or maintenance of a building. The jury awarded $15.5 million in compensatory damages and $6.5 million in punitive damages, for a total award to Plaintiff of $22 million.

The County filed several motions during and after trial, all of which were denied. The Defendants argued the district court judge was biased and should have recused herself, and also that there was an improper and undisclosed attorney-client relationship between Plaintiff's lawyer and a testifying witness. The court ruled that Defendants failed to substantiate any of these claims, failed to meet their burden of proof, and asked for relief to which they were not entitled. The District Court declined to set aside the judgment and award in favor of Plaintiff on 1/8/2013. Defendants appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, but in March 2013, stipulated to dismiss the appeal, presumably on the basis of some kind of settlement.

Anna Dimon - 02/12/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Bed care (including sores)
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Skin Infections
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Board of County Commissioners for the County of Doña Ana
Plaintiff Description Prisoner at Dona Ana County Detention Center
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:08-cv-01185 (D.N.M.) 03/28/2013
PC-NM-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 12/23/2008
PC-NM-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order and Opinion 12/14/2012 (934 F.Supp.2d 1270) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order and Opinion 01/08/2013 (934 F.Supp.2d 1282) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 01/14/2013 (934 F.Supp.2d 1289) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Vazquez, Martha Alicia (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0002 | PC-NM-0007-0003 | PC-NM-0007-0004 | PC-NM-0007-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coyte, Matthew (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-0001 | PC-NM-0007-9000
Jacks, Jack Bennett (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Kennedy, Shannon L. (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Lorenz, Alice T (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Caldwell, John W (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Drennan, Jocelyn (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Ricco, Edward (New Mexico)
PC-NM-0007-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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