Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Jail employees who negligently allowed decedent to commit suicide nonetheless entitled to summary judgment

Bame v. Iron County, 2014 WL 1887605 (5/13/14) (Ut.) (unpub'd) - The 10th reverses the denial of summary judgment to jail employees where an inmate committed suicide. The lawyer for Mr. Jorgensen obtained an extension of a furlough for him due to his wife dying while he was in jail. But the lawyer failed to document the extension. So Mr. Jorgenseon was rearrested. He was placed on suicide watch. But no one checked in on him for 80 minutes. During that time he pulled a capped-off water pipe from the wall and used the hem of his suicide blanket as a ligature to hang himself. Mr. Jorgensen failed to show the jail folks acted with the requisite deliberate indifference. They took anti-suicide precautions beforehand. There was no evidence they knew Mr. Jorgensen would be able to pull the pipe out of the wall and kill himself the way he did. They were negligent in not following jail policies and not keeping better watch, but negligence doesn't warrant relief. There is no legal authority requiring a surveillance camera in a suicide cell. "Jailers are not constitutionally obligated to watch every inmate at every minute of every day," the 10th declares.