Case Note: Prison Suicide Case Clarifies Deliberate Indifference

RBGG associates Kathryn Mantoan and Aaron Fischer authored an article for ABA Section of Litigation, Civil Rights Litigation Case Notes on December 18, 2012 entitled, “What It Takes to Establish a Defendant’s Knowledge of an Inmate’s Serious Mental Health Needs in Stating a Claim for Deliberate Indifference: Bock v. County of Sutter.”

The first paragraph of the article states: “In suits alleging deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (‘Section 1983′), plaintiffs must plead and prove that individual defendants had actual, subjective knowledge of a substantial risk of harm to which they were deliberately indifferent.  See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994).  In Bock v. County of Sutter, Case No.2:11-cv-00536-MCE-GGH, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124699, 2012 WL 3778953 (E.D.Cal. Aug. 31, 2012), Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. of the Eastern District of California rejected the contention that, in a case alleging deliberate indifference to a risk of suicide, the Farmer subjective standard requires that a defendant be aware of an inmate’s express threat to kill one’s self. Instead, subjective knowledge can be pled and proven from the symptoms and circumstances known to correctional staff and medical providers.”

Please contact the authors at kmantoan@rbgg.com or afischer@rbgg.com for a full copy of the article.

December 20th, 2012