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An Inmate Allegedly 'Leaking Blood All Over' Was Denied Medical Treatment for Hours. The Prison Guard Gets Qualified Immunity

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Qualified Immunity

Billy Binion | 9.24.2021 5:10 PM

A prison guard who opted not to ensure prompt medical care for an inmate with a broken hand and a partially severed tendon is entitled to qualified immunity and thus cannot be sued over the incident, a federal court ruled last week.

The doctrine of qualified immunity requires that, in order to hold certain government actors accountable in civil court, plaintiffs must furnish a prior court ruling where the exact misbehavior they're alleging has already been explicitly ruled unconstitutional. If they're not able to do so, state officials—from cops to prison guards to college administrators—are sometimes able to violate your constitutional rights without any recourse.

It's a standard that requires a devotion to myopic detail. Here, there were a few factors distinguishing the allegations from prior court decisions, including the location of the injury and the amount of blood shed.

In October 2014, Charles Wade, then an inmate at United States Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, injured his hand and was escorted on a 10-minute walk from the kitchen to a holding cell by Captain Gordon Lewis. Wade says that over the course of that walk, he was "leaking blood all over" and left "a path of blood," but that his requests to go to the infirmary were ignored. He would stay in the holding cell for several hours before........

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