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Fifth Circuit: Violating Texas Prisoner's Medical Work Restrictions States Claim

On April 21, 2009, the Fifth Circuit court of appeals held that a prisoner stated a viable claim when he alleged that prison employees forced him to work in ways that violated restrictions the medical department had placed on his work.

Roderick L. Reese, a Texas state prisoner, filed a civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging prison employees violated his Eighth amendment rights by showing deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs when they forced him to work in the laundry in violation of his medical restrictions, aggravating his injuries. The district court held an evidentiary hearing. Based upon the hearing testimony of Dr. Danny Adams—who was testifying based upon unidentified medical records--the court dismissed the suit as frivolous. Reese appealed.

The Fifth Circuit held that "[a]s the testimony relied upon by the district court contradicted Reese's allegations, the district court abused its discretion by relying upon the testimony to dismiss Reese's claims as frivolous." Examining Reese's allegations to see if the claims could have been dismissed on other grounds, the Fifth Circuit held the claim that five prison employees had "directly forced him to work in the laundry knowing that it violated his medical restrictions, causing him to suffer further injury and intense pain" was viable. Reese's other claims were not viable. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the dismissal in part and vacated and remanded it in part.

See: Reese v. Skinner, 322 Fed.Appx. 381 (5th Cir. 2009)

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Related legal case

Reese v. Skinner