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Will the US Supreme Court give prison officials a new defense?

by Chris Booberg on December 19, 2014


The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide a case that will have wide ranging implications for prisoner injury and prisoner death suits due to a lack of proper prison healthcare. 


In order to succeed in a claim for violation of his rights under the 8th amendment to effective healthcare, an inmate must prove that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his known medical needs. 


In Peralta, the prison official defended the inmate's claim of deliberate indifference by claiming that California's failure to properly fund the prison prevented him from providing proper medical care.  The prison official argued that he could not be found to be deliberately indifferent because the failure to provide adequate medical care arose from budget issues that were beyond his control and not from his deliberate indifference.


Should a prison official be able to shirk his responsibility for those in his care by blaming budget cuts?  If so, how can a Court determine what errors were caused by budget issues?  Will the Court be put in the position of auditing the budget of the prison to determine whether or not the medical care could have been improved but was not because of budget cuts?


We will be following this case closely and will post a follow up blog once the case is decided.