Friday, October 30, 2015

Prisoner Suit Against Warden, Nurse Who Said Radioactive Water was "Safe" Goes Forward

Walker v. Hickenlooper, 2015 WL 5847486 (10/8/15) (Col.) (unpub'd) - Partial victory for a prisoner whose prison water was contaminated with uranium. The 10th reverses grants of qualified immunity to a warden who allegedly knew from a state administrative notice that the water supply of Sterling, Colorado, was contaminated and yet told inmates the tap water was perfectly safe to drink and the warden who knew about the contamination and did nothing to provide safe water, even though he knew his inaction would create serious health risks. The claims also stand regarding a nurse who allegedly responded to Mr. Walker's complaints of contamination symptoms by insisting the water was safe and she didn't provide safer water, even though she could have. With respect to another warden, Mr. Walker's claims fail because he did not proffer any plausible basis to believe the warden knew the alternative source of water provided to the inmates was also contaminated. Qualified immunity prevails regarding the governors. There was no violation of a clearly established right, the 10th says. No federal appellate court has held in a published decision that state governors violate the constitution by failing to remedy contamination of a prison's water supply. And no relief for hiding the contamination for 6 years. Mr. Walker has gotten his day in court so far and does not allege he has less chance of success due to the delay.