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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) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Jail 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. The 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. The plaintiff was mentally ill at the time of his arrest; he alleged that after he was booked into the jail, 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 the 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, the plaintiff was returned to the jail and again placed in solitary confinement. The plaintiff requested medical and dental treatment and was denied both. The plaintiff was then forced to pull his own tooth. Ultimately the charges against the 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.

The plaintiff filed a complaint and the case proceeded through years of discovery motions, and eventually to trial. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys' fees and costs.

After a multi-day trial in January 2012, the jury found the jail and two individual employees liable for depriving the plaintiff of his constitutional rights to humane conditions of confinement, adequate medical care, and procedural due process. As a result of these constitutional deprivations, the jury found that the plaintiff was entitled to compensatory damages from the jail and punitive damages from the individual employees. Included among the specific findings of the jury was that the plaintiff's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated and that the jail 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 the 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 the plaintiff's lawyer and a testifying witness. The court ruled that the 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 the plaintiff on January 8, 2013. The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, but in March 2013, stipulated to dismiss the appeal after reaching a settlement agreement whereby the plaintiff agreed to accept a $15.5 million settlement and all parties agreed to end litigation without further appeals. The case is now closed.

Anna Dimon - 02/12/2015
Eva Richardson - 05/23/2019


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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
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
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 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
State law
Defendant(s) Board of County Commissioners for the County of Doña Ana
Plaintiff Description Prisoner at Dona Ana County Detention Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2008
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:08-cv-01185 (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-NM-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order and Opinion [ECF# 140] (934 F.Supp.2d 1270) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/14/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Order and Opinion [ECF# 141] (934 F.Supp.2d 1282) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/08/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 145] (934 F.Supp.2d 1289) (D.N.M.)
PC-NM-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/14/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Vázquez, Martha Alicia (D.N.M.) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-0002 | PC-NM-0007-0003 | PC-NM-0007-0004 | PC-NM-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coyte, Matthew (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-0001 | PC-NM-0007-9000
Jacks, Jack Bennett (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000
Kennedy, Shannon L. (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000
Lorenz, Alice T (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Caldwell, John W (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000
Drennan, Jocelyn (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000
Ricco, Edward (New Mexico) show/hide docs
PC-NM-0007-9000

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