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Friday, November 21, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case

In Dale v. Poston, et al (SD Ind., Judge Barker), a 17-page opinion, Judge Evans writes:

Curtis Dale, a federal prisoner, filed this suit in 2002 against several prison employees claiming that they violated the Eighth Amendment by failing to protect him from an attack by another inmate. The case has gone back and forth with both Dale and the government going 2 for 4: a loss for Dale at the pleading stage, a win by Dale on appeal, a win by Dale before a jury on a threshold issue, and finally a loss for Dale on summary judgment. The last loss brings the case before us a second time. * * *

Usually, we begin our discussion in a case like this by repeating the oft-stated rule that we review the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. In this case, however, the facts as we will soon go on to state them come from the government because the district court concluded that Dale’s “Statement of Facts” violated the court’s local rule. For reasons we will explain later, that little twist causes no concern as we proceed to recall the settled facts in some detail. * * *

Dale cites scholarly materials to show that informants occupy the lowest rung in the prison hierarchy. See, e.g., Robertson at 461 (“The inmate code condemns snitching. Indeed, as an act of betrayal, it merits assault, sodomy, and even murder.”). We do not doubt that. Nor do we doubt that protective custody is often necessary to ensure the safety of these inmates. However, that only proves the reasonableness of the defendants’ actions—they offered to place Dale in protective custody. It’s a shame he refused, but the defendants really can’t be blamed. And even if they can, they were negligent at most. The Eighth Amendment requires more than that. Duckworth v. Ahmad, 532 F.3d 675, 679 (7th Cir. 2008).

The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 21, 2008 11:04 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions