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Inmate’s negligence suit may continue, court rules

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ordered more proceedings on a negligence lawsuit filed by an Indiana Department of Correction inmate after he fell and injured himself. In the decision, the judges also decided that prison operators are subject to liability in much the same manner as other private actors.

Inmate John Kader has difficulty lifting his right foot off the ground while walking. In September 2007, he fell while walking through the New Castle Correctional Facility and hit his head. He claimed his foot caught on an uneven floor grate. He was transferred to the hospital for treatment. The hospital recommended follow-up treatment for his head injury, which neither the Department of Correction nor The GEO Group, a private corporation which operated the prison, took action on.

Kader sued the state, DOC and GEO alleging negligent supervision, negligent installation of the floor grate and negligence in providing medical care after returning from the hospital. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of GEO.

In John Kader v. State of Indiana, Department of Correction, and The Geo Group, Inc., 33A01-1302-CT-72, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for GEO on Kader’s duty of care regarding his medical treatment after leaving the hospital, finding the state and DOC have the ultimate authority over his medical treatment.

But the judges reversed summary judgment on several other matters. They found the trial court abused its discretion in striking the entirety of LaDarryl Holland’s affidavit, which Kader designated as evidentiary material in response for the motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants. Holland was the inmate clerk in charge of cleaning the hallway where the floor grate in question was located and saw Kader fall.

The trial court also found Kader’s walking without a cane or wheelchair amounted to contributory negligence, but the COA held prison operator GEO, as a private business, is not entitled to relief from liability under a contributory negligence defense. Prison operators do not merely stand in the shoes of a government body for purposes of liability at tort.

The appellate judges found the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of testimony and factual determination that Kader’s conduct was contributorily negligent because he did not use a cane or wheelchair were both in error. His claims against GEP should be treated within the scope of comparative, not contributory, negligence, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote.
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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