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Nebraska Prisoner's Medical, Mental Suffering Resulting from Segregation Does Not Support Eighth Amendment Violation

Nebraska state prisoner Thomas Fleming brought a federal civil rights action in 2003 alleging violations related to conditions of confinement, due process, inadequate medical care, and inflicted dis-associative disorder. The district court dismissed his Eighth Amendment claims for lack of merit, and declined to rule on the due process claims as a result of an agreed pretrial preclusion.

Fleming was sentenced to 3 to 7 years in the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services in 1987 for robbery. His was released on parole in 1990 but was violated for armed robbery nine months later, resulting in a 15 to 30-year sentence. He was transferred to the Nebraska State Penitentiary. Fleming and four other prisoners attempted an escape in a garbage truck, stabbing the driver and setting him on fire.

Due to Fleming's subsequent prolonged placement in segregation, he experienced medical and mental health problems. Despite showing behavioral improvement over time, he was retained in segregation allegedly due to prior stabbing and fighting incidents regardless of his noted improvement. He brought suit.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska held that Fleming had failed to prove he suffered from a "sufficiently serious" deprivation, and that no deliberate indifference to his medical needs was apparent. The court declined to rule on his alleged due process violations because a pretrial joint order had agreed on an Eighth Amendment basis for his claims. See: Fleming v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, U.S.D.C. (D. Neb.), Case No. 4:03-cv-3307 (Oct. 18, 2006); 2006 WL 2990355.

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Related legal case

Fleming v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services