Appellate Court Rejects Failure to Protect Claim Filed By Jail Inmate

October 3, 2022

In 2020, a DeKalb County Jail Deputy was sued for allegedly failing to protect an inmate from an attack by a fellow inmate. The plaintiff, pretrial detainee Roberto Silva, alleged that he had summoned the deputy about another inmate who was upset. The deputy responded and investigated. Silva wanted the inmate moved. The inmate uttered that if Silva wanted to fight, they could. The deputy spoke with the inmate about what was upsetting him, and it was not related to Silva. The deputy also offered to move the inmate, but the inmate declined. The next day, the inmate came into Silva’s cell and punched him.

Attorneys Michael D. Bersani and Christian E. Ketter, of Hervas, Condon & Bersani, had represented the defendants before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District and won summary judgment in October 2021, before the Honorable Judge Iain D. Johnston. Silva appealed but fared no better in the Appellate Court for the Seventh Circuit. On September 8, 2022, the Seventh Circuit explained that Silva failed to identify evidence showing that the deputy acted unreasonably in failing to protect him from the attack.

This decision affirms the deference that jail administrators need in making decisions on how to manage safety and security every day. And in a larger sense, this favorable outcome preserves qualified immunity for all jail officials across the United States.

Silva v. Read, et al.

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