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Case Name Merritt v. Faulkner PC-IN-0010
Docket / Court 80-207 ( N.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On July 7, 1980, an inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff, represented at first by himself and then by court appointed counsel, ... read more >
On July 7, 1980, an inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff, represented at first by himself and then by court appointed counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and compensatory relief, as well as punitive damages, alleging the prison officials violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they exercised deliberate indifference to his serious medical problems. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that, having seriously injured his left eye, it took the prison officials six months to send him for treatment, where his right eye was operated on, and he was left functionally blind in both eyes.

On October 1, 1980, the District Court (Judge Allen Sharp) denied the plaintiff's August 26, 1980 request for a jury rather than a bench trial, because the jury demand was untimely. The plaintiff asked the court to reconsider, arguing that he was blind, had no counsel, and had to rely on a lay advocate to present his motions. On October 2, 1980, Judge Sharp denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

On December 15, 1980, fifteen days before trial, the District Court (Judge Sharpe) denied the plaintiff's August 13, 1980, motion for appointment of counsel.

After a trial on December 30, 1980, the District Court (Judge Sharp) entered judgment for the defendants. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals appointed counsel for the plaintiff.

On January 6, 1983, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Luther Merritt Swygert) reversed and remanded, holding that it was an abuse of discretion to deny the request for appointed counsel and to deny the request for a jury trial. Merritt v. Faulkner, 697 F.2d 761 (7th Cir. 1983). In a concurring opinion, Judge Richard A. Posner held that "[a] prisoner not represented by counsel . . . is entitled to every indulgence in the court's procedural rulings."

On November 14, 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendants' petition for writ of certiorari. Faulkner v. Merritt, 464 U.S. 986 (1983).

In August 1985, the parties reached a settlement agreement in which the plaintiff agreed to drop the suit in exchange for the state's agreeing to treat his eye condition. However, a January 8, 1986, medical examination revealed that the plaintiff's eye condition was permanent and incurable. The plaintiff sought to vacate the agreement under a number of contract theories.

On August 13, 1986, the District Court (Judge William C. Lee) held that the agreement was valid and enforceable and that neither party had breached agreement. The plaintiff appealed.

On July 13, 1987, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed the District Court's ruling. Merrit v. Faulkner, 823 F.2d 1150 (7th Cir. 1987).

Because the docket for this case is not available on PACER, we have no more information on this case.

Josh Altman - 05/29/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Vision care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Indiana State Prison
Plaintiff Description Prisoner seeking relief for alleged deliberate indifference of prison officials to his serious medical problems
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1985 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
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 ]

Links Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Written: Jun. 04, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion (697 F.2d 761)
PC-IN-0010-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/02/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Order (464 U.S. 986)
PC-IN-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/14/1983
Source: Westlaw
Reported Opinion (823 F.2d 1150)
PC-IN-0010-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/13/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Cudahy, Richard Dickson (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IN-0010-0001 | PC-IN-0010-0002
Cummings, Walter Joseph (Seventh Circuit)
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IN-0010-0001 | PC-IN-0010-0002
Swygert, Luther Merritt (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ind.)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flannigan, Gary L. (California)
Hellmann, Thomas J (Kentucky)
Hodes, Starkman Avery (Illinois)
Defendant's Lawyers Weliever, Sabra A. (Indiana)
PC-IN-0010-0001 | PC-IN-0010-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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