BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) - A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against a jailer who placed a fellow officer in a cell with a violent inmate.
The underlying case revolves around the arrest of Kenneth Wayne Patton who was taken into custody on a charge of domestic violence on April 9, 2013.
While Patton was being booked, he told Jonathan Shadwrick, the booking officer at the Etowah County Detention Center, that he was a corrections officers and requested he be placed in protective custody through administrative segregation.
As recounted in the opinion written by U.S. District Judge Virginia Hopkins, at the time of his booking, Patton was drunk, verbally abusive, and directed profanity at both detention center staff and working inmates.
In both his original filing and a latter, amended complaint, Patton said despite his requests to be placed in protective custody, Shadwrick placed him in a cell with Moses Reyes, a known violent inmate.
Patton says that shortly after being placed in the cell, an inmate trustee named Denzil Beck punched his fist into his hand, signaling that Reyes was to attack and assault him.
According to the complaint, Reyes began arguing with Patton, and the dispute quickly escalated into a violent physical altercation. Despite overhearing this, Patton says, Shadwrick failed to remove him from the cell.
Later, a staff nurse determined that Patton's injuries, which included cuts and lacerations and a broken nose, were serious and had him transported to a nearby medical center for treatment.
Patton filed a lawsuit against Shadwrick, three of the booking officer's supervisors and Etowah County claiming he had been the victim of a "de facto jail policy of punishing pretrial inmates that allegedly display disorderly conduct and use foul language."
Shadwrick filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit claiming he was entitled to qualified immunity because he did not violate Patton's constitutional rights.
But Judge Hopkins disagreed, saying that Patton's allegations clearly describe a violation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights because Shadwrick knew Patton was eligible for administrative segregation, but still put him in a cell with a violent inmate and delayed in calling for help as Patton was being beaten.
"If that is not deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of bodily harm, then nothing is," Hopkins wrote.
As a result, she said, Shadwrick is not entitled to qualified immunity because his "deliberate indifference to the threat of violence against an inmate violates clearly established law."
However, Hopkins granted a motion to dismiss the claims filed by against Shadwrick's three supervisors because, she says, there is no evidence to support Patton's claim they instituted a policy violating his constitutional rights.
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