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 ...
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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