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Immigration Detainee Loses Failure to Protect Suit

The plaintiff immigration detainee was attacked by another prisoner and was warned not to retaliate against him. He was involved in a second altercation the next day in which the other prisoner "got cut"; the plaintiff was later criminally convicted for the incident. He was placed in administrative segregation.

The court holds INS detainees to be legally equivalent to pre-trial detainees. At 585: "The rights of a pretrial detainee are at least as great as those of a convicted prisoner. ... As the Fourth [sic] Amendment in this context simply incorporates the protections of the Eighth Amendment, the court will apply the standards of both the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. ..."

The plaintiff's complaint that he suffered swelling and bruising and the defendants did not take the initiative in offering him medical treatment (he got pain medication later) did not state a deliberate indifference claim. He failed to show that his injuries "obviously required medical attention, a necessary precondition to triggering the defendants' obligations to provide him with care in the absence of any complaints of pain or requests by Despaigne for treatment." (585-86) Nor did they show any subjective awareness on defendants' part of his need for medical treatment.

The plaintiff failed to show that defendants were deliberately indifferent to the risk of prisoner assault. Their comments showed that they were afraid the other prisoner was at risk from him. There was no evidence that the other prisoner had threatened the plaintiff or that he had a history of violence. It was reasonable for them to think the first incident was an isolated occurrence and their actions (telling him not to retaliate) were sufficient response.

A request for release from the "hole" need not be pursued via habeas corpus, since the plaintiff is not seeking release from custody. See: Despaigne v. Crolew, 89 F.Supp.2d 582 (E.D.Pa. 2000).

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Related legal case

Despaigne v. Crolew