Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Denial of Bedding, Clothes to Florida Prisoner States Claim

Florida’s First District Court of Appeal held that a prisoner’s civil rights complaint alleging that a guard denied him blankets, bed sheets and clean clothing for four-and-a-half months, causing illness and injury, stated a claim that was sufficient to withstand summary dismissal.

The Court’s ruling came in an appeal filed by Florida state prisoner Wendall Hall after his complaint was dismissed by a Leon County Circuit Court under § 57.085(6), Florida Statutes (2006), which is Florida’s prisoner indigency statute.

The Circuit Court held that Wendall’s claim for monetary damages against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) was barred by sovereign immunity, and the First District agreed with that holding. However, the Court of Appeal found that a claim against defendant “Officer Knipp” had been improperly dismissed.

Hall’s complaint stated a claim under § 768.28(9)(a), Florida Statutes, by alleging that Knipp had acted “in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.” In effect, Hall claimed that Knipp “was acting outside the scope of his employment – in the sense of not exercising power lawfully vested in him ...” when he allegedly refused to provide bedding and clean clothing.

Prison guards have a duty to exercise reasonable care to persons in their custody. Hall alleged that Knipp had breached that duty. Thus, the First District held that Hall’s complaint was sufficient to withstand summary dismissal as to the claim against Knipp in his individual capacity.

Further, the Court of Appeal rejected the FDOC’s argument that Hall’s claim should be dismissed due to his failure to serve process on Knipp, since the trial court’s initial review of the complaint under the indigency screening statute precluded service of process. Accordingly, the case was remanded for further proceedings. See: Hall v. Knipp, 982 So.2d 1196 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App. 1st Dist. 2008).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Hall v. Knipp