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Articles by Derek Gilna

Hawaii Supreme Court: Pretrial Solitary Wrong, but Warden Protected by Qualified Immunity

by Derek Gilna

Mukadin Gordon, who had an extensive criminal record, was arrested for a non-violent offense in August 2010 and placed in solitary confinement for several months. 

He sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort law, arguing that his nine months in solitary were punitive in ...

Seventh Circuit Vacates, Remands Punitive Damages Award Against Wexford

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has remanded a prisoner’s lawsuit against Wexford Health Sources, Inc., the healthcare provider for Illinois’ Department of Corrections, for either a reduced punitive damages award or a new trial on the issue of damages. 

After experiencing ankle pain in 2010, ...

Seventh Circuit Excuses Exhaustion Requirement for Spanish-Speaking Prisoner

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of an Illinois state prisoner’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), based on the fact that as a Spanish-speaker he did not understand ...

Illinois DOC Permanently Enjoined From Neglecting Prisoners’ Mental Health

by Derek Gilna

On October 30, 2018, a federal judge entered a permanent injunction that enjoined the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) from violating the Eighth Amendment and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to mental health care.

In issuing the injunction, the district court found the IDOC had ...

Eighteen Years After its Passage, Prisons and Jails Continue to Violate RLUIPA

by Derek Gilna

After decades of complaints by prisoners that corrections officials frequently denied them the right to practice their religion, Congress took action and passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), RLUIPA ...

Missouri Prisoner Awarded $111,000 in Second-Hand Smoke Case, DOC Bans Smoking

by Derek Gilna

Ecclesiastical Denzel Washington, a former death row prisoner who is now serving a life sentence, won a jury verdict against the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) and various prison officials totaling $111,000. Following the April 2017 verdict, Washington negotiated a settlement banning the sale and ...

Sixth Circuit Reverses Injunction Against Delousing and Group Strip Searches at Ohio Jail

by Derek Gilna

On November 2, 2018, the Sixth Circuit reversed a permanent injunction and summary judgment order entered by a federal district court in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action filed by former prisoner Tynisa Williams against the City of Cleveland, challenging group strip searches and mandatory delousing at ...

Seventh Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Juvenile Prisoners’ Civil Rights Case

by Derek Gilna

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by two Iowa girls who alleged they were mistreated at the Wisconsin Girls State Training School at Copper Lake. After their placement in that out-of-state facility in 2015, they said ...

Former New Jersey Prison Guard, Accused of Abusing Female Prisoners, Settles Lawsuit for $75,000

by Derek Gilna

Former New Jersey Correctional Officer Erick Melgar, accused by 16 women prisoners at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County of both physical and sexual misconduct from 2008 to 2009, settled his state lawsuit with a consent judgment in April 2017 for $75,000. Melgar, who was terminated ...

Taser Misuse at California Jail Costs County $1.15 Million

by Derek Gilna

On March 5, 2018, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department in California settled a federal civil rights lawsuit that alleged deputies at the Rancho Cucamonga jail engaged in a practice of “tasing” prisoners for their own personal amusement. 

The $1.15 million settlement on behalf of ...