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7th Circuit remands Section 1983, wrongful death suits

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the trial court to take another look at two cases combined on appeal, which stem from the death of an inmate at the Elkhart County jail.

The appellate court released an 84-page opinion in Estate of Nicholas D. Rice, deceased, by Rick D. Rice and Diane J. Waldrop, co-personal representatives v. Correctional Medical Services, et al., Nos. 09-2804, 10-2389, in which Nicholas Rice’s parents filed a lawsuit in federal court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, alleging among other things, that jail officials and medical personnel had deprived Rice of due process by exhibiting deliberate indifference to his declining mental and physical condition. Rice was in jail for nearly 15 months awaiting trial when he died from excessive drinking of water, a disorder known to manifest in some people with schizophrenia. Jail officials knew of his mental illness.

The District Court entered summary judgment against the estate on its Section 1983 claims, suit No. 09-2804, finding in part that correctional and medical personnel hadn’t consciously disregarded Rice’s medical needs and that the ultimate cause of his death wasn’t reasonably foreseeable to them. The estate then filed its second federal suit, No. 10-2389, invoking the court’s diversity jurisdiction, in which it reasserted the state wrongful death claims that the judge in the first suit had dismissed without prejudice after disposing of the federal claims. The judge in the second suit dismissed that case on the basis of collateral estoppel, reasoning that his colleague’s finding as to the foreseeability of the cause of Rice’s death precluded recovery on any of the state claims.

“On review of the record, we conclude that a material dispute of fact precludes summary judgment on one of the Estate’s section 1983 claims: that his conditions of confinement were inhumane. We also conclude that the district court erred in dismissing his state claims. We therefore affirm in part and reverse in part,” wrote Judge Ilana Rovner.

They sent both cases back for further consideration.



 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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