Williams v. Bennett, No. 81-7037

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HILL and HATCHETT; JAMES C. HILL
Citation689 F.2d 1370
PartiesBobby WILLIAMS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Larry BENNETT, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date29 October 1982
Docket NumberNo. 81-7037

Page 1370

689 F.2d 1370
Bobby WILLIAMS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Larry BENNETT, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
No. 81-7037.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
Oct. 29, 1982.

Page 1373

Robert L. Wiggins, Charles M. Quinn, Bryan & Appell, Birmingham, Ala., Kelso Jones, Asst. Atty. Gen., Medical Services Administration, Montgomery, Ala., for plaintiff-appellant.

James R. Seale, Montgomery, Ala., for all defendants-appellees except Cook.

Stephen Glassroth, Montgomery, Ala. (Court Appointed), for Cook.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.

Page 1374

Before HILL and HATCHETT, Circuit Judges, and GOLDBERG *, Senior Circuit Judge.

JAMES C. HILL, Circuit Judge:

On January 10, 1978 in the Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, appellant Bobby Williams was assaulted by fellow inmate Larry Cook while Williams was sleeping in his dormitory bunk. Cook inflicted multiple stab wounds which rendered Williams a permanent quadriplegic. At the time of the incident, the dormitory housed medium security prisoners, and no prison guards were stationed either inside or outside the dormitory.

Williams filed a damage action in the district court under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 and the eighth and fourteenth amendments against the Alabama Board of Corrections and its members, the Board's commissioner and deputy commissioner, the warden and deputy wardens of Holman Prison, and the captain and assistant captain of the guards at the prison, all in their official and individual capacities. Williams alleged that his personal injuries were the result of the deprivation of his right under the eighth amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and of his right under the fourteenth amendment to be free from deprivation of life, liberty, and property without due process of law. 1 The complaint also named Larry Cook as an individual defendant, alleging a state law assault and battery claim.

Prior to trial the district judge granted partial summary judgment in favor of the Alabama Board of Corrections and all other defendants, except Larry Cook, in their official capacities on the basis of their eleventh amendment immunity. Just after commencement of trial the state law claim against defendant Cook was dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. At the close of the evidence the court granted a directed verdict for the captain and assistant captain of the guards. A jury verdict was rendered in favor of the remaining defendants in their individual capacities and Williams appeals.

For the reasons developed below, we conclude that:

(1) The district court properly dismissed the proceedings against defendant Cook.

(2) The court properly held that, under the eleventh amendment, the Board of Corrections and other defendants, insofar as they were sued in their official capacities, were immune from damage liability.

(3) Prior litigation established that Williams was confined in violation of the eighth amendment and that his injuries, being the result of foreseeable peril, were at least concurrently caused by that wrongful deprivation of constitutional freedom.

(4) The injunction issued in the prior litigation is of no moment insofar as it anticipated an expected date of compliance. Although relevant to contempt proceedings, the time allowance in the injunction did not vary appellees' duties under the Bill of Rights.

(5) The defense of good faith qualified immunity is not available to appellees because prior litigation put them on notice that the conditions of confinement at the prison were unconstitutional.

(6) In order to recover, however, Williams must prove that one or more of

Page 1375

the individual defendants acted with such callous indifference to Williams' safety as to amount to constitutional wrongdoing, and that such wrongdoing produced the constitutional deprivation. Evidence that an individual defendant had neither the authority nor the resources to prevent the deprivation is material to this issue.

(7) The district court improperly instructed the jury that the state could not be compelled to pay any part of a judgment in favor of Williams.

(8) Williams may not maintain a Bivins -type action under the eighth amendment in addition to his claims under section 1983.

(9) The direction of a verdict in favor of defendants Chancery and Raines is reversed. Their liability vel non should be reappraised in light of our conclusions as to the applicable principles.

I PROLOGUE

In order to appraise the legal setting in which the case was tried we must direct our attention to a prior class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 involving conditions in the Alabama Penal system. In Pugh v. Locke, 406 F.Supp. 318 (M.D.Ala.1976), aff'd with modifications sub nom. Newman v. Alabama, 559 F.2d 283 (5th Cir. 1977), rev'd in part sub nom. Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 56 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978), the district court held that living conditions in Alabama prisons, including exposure to the constant threat of violence from other inmates, constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the eighth amendment. The court concluded that, by housing inmates "in virtually unguarded, overcrowded dormitories, with no realistic attempt ... to separate violent, aggressive inmates from those who are passive or weak," the Alabama prison system had failed to carry out its constitutional duty to provide inmates reasonable protection from the constant threat of violence. Id. at 329. Accordingly, the court entered injunctive relief against, inter alia, the commissioner, deputy commissioner, and members of the Board of Corrections in their individual and official capacities, "their agents, employees, successors in office and any other acting in concert with them." Id. at 331. The decree directed that only minimum custody inmates be assigned to dormitories and that at least one guard be stationed inside and one guard outside the dormitories at all times. Id. at 333.

The district judge who entered the injunction in 1976 conducted hearings in September, 1978 to determine the extent of compliance with the Pugh order. The judge's findings and conclusions therefore covered the conditions in the Alabama prisons at the time of the incident upon which the current action is based. Having reviewed the evidence of efforts toward compliance, the court held that "(t)he very fact of confinement in Alabama's Penal System continues to contravene the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights" of the inmates. Newman v. Alabama, 466 F.Supp. 628, 630 (M.D.Ala.1979). With respect to the state's duty to provide inmates reasonable protection from violence, the court observed:

Defendants admit noncompliance with the requirement that guards be stationed in the living areas, including dormitories. The dormitories, they say, are too dangerous for the guards to enter. That fear is well taken. The number of reported incidents of prosecutable crimes of violence shows a steady increase over the last four years ....

The Board has not taken the first steps to curb the pattern of violence which makes a mockery of the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The Board has deliberately ignored the requirement that

Page 1376

guards be stationed in the dormitory units at night.

Id. at 632 (emphasis added). 2

II THE INSTITUTION EXITS

The Pugh litigation determined that the conditions of Williams' confinement denied him the protection afforded prison inmates by the eighth amendment and that the cruel and unusual punishment thus inflicted was his constant exposure to the very sort of violence he experienced. The Alabama Penal System, as an institution, was being unconstitutionally operated. Williams attempted to sue the institution itself by naming as defendant the Board of Corrections and its officials and employees in their official capacities. If these defendants were proper parties for a damage suit, his task would have been far easier. However, on the basis of the eleventh amendment's acknowledgement of sovereign immunity, the district court entered a partial summary judgment in favor of the Alabama Board of Corrections and its officials and employees insofar as they were sued in their official capacities. Williams now challenges the application of sovereign immunity on two grounds. Initially, he argues that the Board of Corrections should not be considered the "state" for eleventh amendment purposes. In the alternative, he argues that a recent Alabama statute should be construed as a partial abrogation of any immunity the Board may have enjoyed previously.

The eleventh amendment 3 has evolved to stand for the proposition that an unconsenting state is immune from damage suits brought in federal court by its own citizens or by citizens of another state. Quern v. Jordan, 440 U.S. 332, 337, 99 S.Ct. 1139, 1143, 39 L.Ed.2d 358 (1979); Edelman v. Jordan, 415 U.S. 651, 663, 94 S.Ct. 1347, 1355, 39 L.Ed.2d 662 (1974). The amendment effectively bars such actions for monetary relief even when the state is not named as a party. If the judgment necessarily will be paid from the state treasury, and the state is the real party in interest, then the state may invoke its sovereign immunity. Id. 415 U.S. at 664, 94 S.Ct. at 1356; Ford Motor Co. v. Department of Treasury, 323 U.S. 459, 464, 65 S.Ct. 347, 350, 89 L.Ed. 389 (1945). Although Williams maintains that the Board of Corrections is amenable to suit because it is political subdivision operating independent of the state, 4 his argument is precluded by the Supreme Court's decision in Alabama v. Pugh, 438 U.S. 781, 98 S.Ct. 3057, 56 L.Ed.2d 1114 (1978). In Alabama v. Pugh, the Court concluded:

There can be no doubt, however, that suit against the State and its Board of Corrections is barred by the Eleventh Amendment, unless Alabama has consented to the filing of such a suit.

438 U.S. at 782, 98 S.Ct. at 3057 (citation omitted). 5

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394 practice notes
  • Beasley v. Alabama State University, No. CIV. A. 96-T-473-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • March 23, 1998
    ...statutes, and decisions," and finding that no such authorization has been provided to Alabama officials); Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1377-78 (11th Cir.1982) (noting "Alabama's traditional reluctance to waive its sovereign immunity," as embodied in art. I, § 14, and that "the Alabam......
  • Davis v. Powell, Civil No. 10cv1891–CAB (RBB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • October 4, 2012
    ...defendant committed some act, or failed to act in a particular way, that was the cause of the constitutional injury. Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1385 (11th Cir.1982). A plaintiff must link each defendant to the alleged § 1983 violation, and the factual allegations must be sufficient......
  • Novak v. Cobb County-Kennestone Hosp. Authority, Civ. No. 1:90-cv-1316-JEC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • February 28, 1994
    ...between the actions taken by a particular person `under color of state law' and the constitutional deprivation." Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1380 (11th Cir.1982). "The causation requirement of section 1983 ... is not satisfied by a showing of mere causation in fact. Rather, the plai......
  • Ostroff v. State of Fla., Dept. of Health, No. 81-128-Civ-Oc.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 31, 1983
    ...of Health & Rehabilitative Services v. Florida Nursing Home Association, 450 U.S. at 150, 101 S.Ct. at 1034; Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1377 (11th Cir.1982). Article X, Section 13 of the Florida Constitution provides that state sovereign immunity may be waived only by general law. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
395 cases
  • Beasley v. Alabama State University, No. CIV. A. 96-T-473-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • March 23, 1998
    ...statutes, and decisions," and finding that no such authorization has been provided to Alabama officials); Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1377-78 (11th Cir.1982) (noting "Alabama's traditional reluctance to waive its sovereign immunity," as embodied in art. I, § 14, and t......
  • Davis v. Powell, Civil No. 10cv1891–CAB (RBB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • October 4, 2012
    ...defendant committed some act, or failed to act in a particular way, that was the cause of the constitutional injury. Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1385 (11th Cir.1982). A plaintiff must link each defendant to the alleged § 1983 violation, and the factual allegations must be sufficient......
  • Novak v. Cobb County-Kennestone Hosp. Authority, Civ. No. 1:90-cv-1316-JEC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • February 28, 1994
    ...the actions taken by a particular person `under color of state law' and the constitutional deprivation." Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1380 (11th Cir.1982). "The causation requirement of section 1983 ... is not satisfied by a showing of mere causation in fact. Rather, the pl......
  • Ostroff v. State of Fla., Dept. of Health, No. 81-128-Civ-Oc.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • January 31, 1983
    ...of Health & Rehabilitative Services v. Florida Nursing Home Association, 450 U.S. at 150, 101 S.Ct. at 1034; Williams v. Bennett, 689 F.2d 1370, 1377 (11th Cir.1982). Article X, Section 13 of the Florida Constitution provides that state sovereign immunity may be waived only by general l......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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