On November 11, 1999, an inmate incarcerated at the Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, filed a Bivens lawsuit against fifteen corrections officers and officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiff, represented by ...
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On November 11, 1999, an inmate incarcerated at the Federal Penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, filed a Bivens lawsuit against fifteen corrections officers and officials pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiff, represented by court-appointed counsel, alleged violations of his Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that several corrections officers, known as the "Cowboys," were liable for malicious prosecution, cruel and unusual punishment, and the failure to train and supervise their subordinates.
According to the plaintiff, the Cowboys conspired to assault prisoners whom they perceived as disciplinary problems. On August 8, 1996, two of the officers stabbed themselves and then accused the plaintiff. The Cowboys repeatedly brutally beat the plaintiff that day and psychologically abused him for the next two weeks. The abuse ceased when the plaintiff confessed to the stabbing. Although the plaintiff was indicted, the charges against him were dropped on July 28, 1998. The Cowboys, conversely, were criminally indicted under 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242. Two officers pled guilty, but the rest opted for trial.
On February 15, 2001, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (Chief Judge Lewis T. Babcock) dismissed the plaintiff's malicious prosecution and failure to train claims. Turner v. Schultz, 130 F. Supp. 2d 1216 (D. Colo. 2001). The court recognized that a prisoner could not claim malicious prosecution under the Fourth Amendment because a prisoner's freedom cannot be seized wrongfully. Similarly, the court reasoned that the plaintiff could not raise a malicious prosecution claim on a theory of emotional suffering because, under the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), an emotional wrong must be accompanied by a physical injury. The court refused to dismiss the plaintiffs' failure to supervise claims because prison supervisors were aware of the Cowboys' unorthodox behavior and intentionally scheduled them to work together.
On April 12, 2001, seven of the defendants filed a third-party complaint, charging that the United States Department of Justice was required to provide its employees with legal representation. On February 20, 2002, the court interpreted the permissive language in the 28 U.S.C. § 517 and 28 C.F.R. § 50.15(a) as giving the Department of Justice the discretion to choose whether or not to represent its employees. Turner v. Schultz, 187 F. Supp. 2d 1288 (D. Colo. 2002). The court held that the Department of Justice's decision was not judicially reviewable.
On October 3, 2002, the court referred the case to a Magistrate (Judge O. Edward Schlatter) for settlement. It appears that a settlement was reached because the plaintiff moved to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice on May 20, 2005. The court (Judge Babcock) granted this motion on May 23, 2005. Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/15/2006