(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a jury verdict against two prison employees who failed to keep a female inmate from being raped by a corrections officer and instead punished her after the rape by throwing her into solitary confinement, shackled and handcuffed.
Michelle Ortiz, a former inmate of an Ohio prison, immediately reported that a corrections officer raped her during the night. Paula Jordan, a case manager living in Ortiz’s unit, did not act on Ortiz’s report, and the same corrections officer raped Ortiz again that night as well. The prison investigator, Rebecca Bright, then retaliated against Ortiz and “placed her, shackled and handcuffed, in solitary confinement in a cell without adequate heat, clothing, bedding or blankets,” the Supreme Court’s ruling states.
A judge rejected the workers’ claims for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity, and a jury then returned a verdict for Ortiz, awarding damages of $625,000. Jordan and Bright appealed to the 6th Circuit, stating that their summary judgment motion should not have been denied.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found that the defendants had no authority to appeal denial of the motion after a judgment was already entered on the merits of the case.
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, issued a separate concurring opinion, stating that the majority should not have noted that Jordan and Bright failed to renew their motion for judgment as a mattor of law.