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

Jail’s Private Medical Employees Not Entitled to Qualified Immunity

An Arizona federal district court concluded that employees of Corizon Health, a private company providing care to prisoners at the Mohave County Adult Detention Facility, “are not within the class of persons to whom qualified immunity is afforded.”

The plaintiff brought two claims under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and a state law wrongful death claim, Defendant John Anastasoff, a nurse employed by Corizon, moved for qualified immunity, that was joined by co-workers nurse Margaret Saltsgiver and Dr. Donovan Schmidt.

They contended they were not public employees whose “eligibility for qualified immunity should not be denied merely because they provide the public function of medical care and treatment to the jail inmates through the county’s private medical contractor.”

The court concluded that none of the factors in Richardson v. Mcknight, 521 U.S. 399 (1997) [See PLN December 2000, p. 32), to allow a qualified immunity defense are involved here.  In sum, the court found that “market forces and privatization flexibility” overcame the Richardson “timidity and deterrence factors” which are the basis for granting public officials qualified immunity.

The trend in federal law is to refuse granting qualified immunity “to privately-employed health care providers working in detention centers or correctional facilities.”  The court agreed to follow that trend and precedent that limits qualified immunity to governmental employees, not private company employees providing a stat function or service.  The defendants’ motion was denied.  See: Garner v. Mohave County, USDC, D. Arizona, Case No.  3:15-cv-15-08147.

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

Garner v. Mohave County