This lawsuit was the result of a stabbing incident at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. An inmate stabbed two other inmates with a hobby knife. Ernest Smith was injured in the attack and John Stewart died as a result. Smith filed a lawsuit on December 6, 1993 in the ...
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This lawsuit was the result of a stabbing incident at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. An inmate stabbed two other inmates with a hobby knife. Ernest Smith was injured in the attack and John Stewart died as a result. Smith filed a lawsuit on December 6, 1993 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against the Arkansas Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking damages for his injuries. He claimed that the prison conditions at the time, including officials' failure to protect him, violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment in the form of an attack from a fellow inmate. Smith also sought injunctive relief to remedy the current conditions of confinement. Stewart's estate also filed a lawsuit on December 6, 1993, making the same claims. The district court determined that Smith lacked standing to seek injunctive relief concerning the current prison conditions because he had been transferred from the facility but allowed him to add a co-plaintiff, Jimmy Rudd.
In Smith's case, on February 23, 1995, the court (Judge G. Thomas Eisele) granted Rudd's request for declaratory relief, requiring defendants to station two correctional officers inside the open barracks and to document and record all entries and exits of prison personnel into or out of the open barracks. Smith v. Norris, 877 F.Supp. 1296 (E.D. Ark. 1995). The court also determined that defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity regarding Smith's claims for damages and granted Smith partial summary judgment regarding his injuries. The court did not grant injunctive relief regarding the prison's policy of allowing inmates to possess dangerous tools because the prison had already changed the policy. On February 27, 1995, Judge Eisele denied defendants' motion to stay the judgment pending their appeal.
In the Stewart case, the court determined that the issues were exactly the same as in the Smith/Rudd case. An order by Judge Henry Woods on December 19, 1996 consolidated the two cases.
The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge David Hansen) affirmed the grant of injunctive relief to Rudd. Smith v. Arkansas Dept. of Correction, 103 F.3d 637 (8th Cir. 1996). The Court of Appeals found that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Smith because there were disputed facts regarding whether the prison was complying with safety standards set by a previous case. (Finney v. Mabry, 546 F.Supp. 628 (E.D. Ark. 1982). (PC-AR-003) The court affirmed the denial of qualified immunity in both cases and reversed the grant of summary judgment. The case was remanded for a trial on the merits. The parties entered into a settlement and on July 28, 1997, Judge Eisele dismissed the case.Angela Heverling - 03/20/2006