On October 17, 1990, an inmate at the Evans Correctional Institute in South Carolina filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina against the supervisor of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the warden of the correctional facility, ...
read more >
On October 17, 1990, an inmate at the Evans Correctional Institute in South Carolina filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina against the supervisor of the South Carolina Department of Corrections, the warden of the correctional facility, along with several corrections officers. The plaintiff, who initially filed pro se and was later represented by private counsel, sought damages and declaratory relief, alleging that the actions of the defendants violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Previously, on July 8, 1988, the plaintiff was attacked and stabbed by another inmate, while sitting in the recreation area of the dormitory where he was housed. The corrections officers on duty at the time responded to the attack by throwing chairs at the attacker and yelling for him to cease the attack. The attacker threw down his knife and walked off into a crowd of inmates, but none of the corrections officers attempted to apprehend him. As the plaintiff was being carried away on a stretcher, the attacker returned with another knife. The attacker was finally restrained, handcuffed, and taken away. The plaintiff ultimately received 12-19 stab wounds and was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.
In February 1994 a jury trial was held. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff against the warden and several of the corrections officers. The plaintiff was awarded $199,000 in damages. The plaintiff also sought declaratory relief, but withdrew those claims. The defendants had moved for judgment as a matter of law, and moved for a new trial.
The defendants appealed trial court's denial of their motions and on May 31, 1995 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (per curiam) affirmed in part and reversed in part the jury verdict. Solesbee v. Witkowski, No. 94-6916, 1995 WL 323941 (4th Cir. May 31 1995). The jury verdicts against the corrections officers were affirmed, because the harm suffered by the plaintiff was "sufficiently serious" and the prison officials were "deliberately indifferent" to the risk of harm to the inmate. The jury verdict against the warden was reversed, because there was no evidence of tacit or any other approval of the acts of the subordinates, which violated the rights of the plaintiff. The court further reasoned that the warden could not be held responsible for the training of the correctional officers, because he had only been working at the correctional facility for two months prior to the incident.
On September 13, 1995, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Robert S. Carr) amended the judgment to be consistent with the decision of the Fourth Circuit. The case has ended.Kaitlin Corkran - 06/04/2006