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Prisoner Settles Conditions of Confinement, Excessive Force Lawsuit with Nevada County Jail

In October 2015, Washoe County officials and a former jail prisoner settled a lawsuit which had alleged numerous constitutional violations, including unlawful conditions of confinement, use of excessive force, medical indifference, and due process violations. The amount of the settlement was redacted from the documents provided to PLN.

The complaint filed by Derek Kirk related to events that occurred when he was a pre-trial detainee at the Washoe County (Nevada) Detention Facility (jail) in February 2013. According to court documents, Kirk alleged that he was:

  • Placed in segregation for 178 days without a disciplinary hearing that complied with due process and that he was denied access to grievance forms to challenge it. Kirk claimed that he was taken to a hearing with no notice and was not allowed to call witnesses.
  • While in segregation, Kirk says he was in an extremely cold cell and forced to sleep on the cement floor, the cell was constantly lit, and he was not allowed outdoor exercise or showers for over a week at a time.
  • After being denied breakfast one morning, Kirk placed his hand in the cell door cuffport to prevent it from being closed. He alleges that Deputy Butler kicked the cuffport door on to his "mangled hand," and then refused Kirk medical attention.
  • Expressing his frustration, Kirk then covered his cell camera, prompting two guards to come in to his cell and give Kirk "one of the worst beatings of my life." Kirk was then tied to a restraint chair and again denied medical care. When untied, Kirk was left in a freezing room with a hole in the ground for a toilet for two days without a blanket, food, or his prescribed medicine.

Kirk filed several amended complaints, adjusting his claims and adding and deleting defendants. The magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for Nevada, upon screening the complaints, found that Kirk had stated colorable constitutional claims on all but excessive force claims against three specific guards, and for a claim that the telephone rates were too high. The court also gave Kirk another chance to amend his due process claim to include specific allegations for another of the named defendants.

Pro se, the 19-year-old Kirk settled this case just over a year after the court issued its September 29, 2014, order accepting his Second Amended Complaint. While the amount of the settlement was not noted, the funds were placed directly into Kirk's account at the Nevada Department of Corrections. Kirk also settled another lawsuit against the Carson City jail for its postcard-only rule (Kirk v. Carson City et al., No. 3:13cv-00490-MMD-VPC (U.S.D.C. NV), March 22, 2016). See: Kirk v. Foster, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00296-RCJ-WGC (U.S.D.C. NV).

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Related legal cases

Kirk v. Carson City

Kirk v. Foster