Case: Merritt v. Faulkner

3:80-00207 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana

Filed Date: July 7, 1980

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Case Summary

On July 7, 1980, an inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff, represented at first by himself and then by court appointed counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and compensatory relief, as well as punitive damages, alleging that the prison officials violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they exercised deliberate in…

On July 7, 1980, an inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The plaintiff, represented at first by himself and then by court appointed counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and compensatory relief, as well as punitive damages, alleging that the prison officials violated his Eighth Amendment rights when they exercised deliberate indifference to his serious medical problems. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that, having seriously injured his left eye, it took the prison officials six months to send him for treatment, where his right eye was operated on, and he was left functionally blind in both eyes.

On October 1, 1980, the District Court (Judge Allen Sharp) denied the plaintiff's August 26, 1980 request for a jury rather than a bench trial, because the jury demand was untimely. The plaintiff asked the court to reconsider, arguing that he was blind, had no counsel, and had to rely on a lay advocate to present his motions. On October 2, 1980, Judge Sharp denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration.

On December 15, 1980, fifteen days before trial, the District Court (Judge Sharpe) denied the plaintiff's August 13, 1980, motion for appointment of counsel.

After a trial on December 30, 1980, the District Court (Judge Sharp) entered judgment for the defendants. On appeal, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals appointed counsel for the plaintiff.

On January 6, 1983, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Luther Merritt Swygert) reversed and remanded, holding that it was an abuse of discretion to deny the request for appointed counsel and to deny the request for a jury trial. Merritt v. Faulkner, 697 F.2d 761 (7th Cir. 1983). In a concurring opinion, Judge Richard A. Posner held that "[a] prisoner not represented by counsel . . . is entitled to every indulgence in the court's procedural rulings."

On November 14, 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the defendants' petition for writ of certiorari. Faulkner v. Merritt, 464 U.S. 986 (1983).

In August 1985, the parties reached a settlement agreement in which the plaintiff agreed to drop the suit in exchange for the state's agreeing to treat his eye condition. However, a January 8, 1986, medical examination revealed that the plaintiff's eye condition was permanent and incurable. The plaintiff sought to vacate the agreement under a number of contract theories.

On August 13, 1986, the District Court (Judge William C. Lee) held that the agreement was valid and enforceable and that neither party had breached agreement. The plaintiff appealed.

On July 13, 1987, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (per curiam) affirmed the District Court's ruling. Merrit v. Faulkner, 823 F.2d 1150 (7th Cir. 1987).

Because the docket for this case is not available on PACER, we have no more information on this case.

Summary Authors

Josh Altman (5/29/2006)

People


Judge(s)

Cudahy, Richard Dickson (Illinois)

Cummings, Walter Joseph (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Swygert, Luther Merritt (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Flannigan, Gary L. (California)

Hellmann, Thomas J (Kentucky)

Hodes, Starkman Avery (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Weliever, Sabra A. (Indiana)

Judge(s)

Cudahy, Richard Dickson (Illinois)

Cummings, Walter Joseph (Illinois)

Posner, Richard Allen (Illinois)

Swygert, Luther Merritt (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Flannigan, Gary L. (California)

Hellmann, Thomas J (Kentucky)

Hodes, Starkman Avery (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Weliever, Sabra A. (Indiana)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

81-01136

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

697 F.2d 761, 1983 U.S.App.LEXIS 27809

March 2, 1983

March 2, 1983

Order/Opinion

83-00153

Order

Faulkner v. Merritt

Supreme Court of the United States

464 U.S. 986, 104 S.Ct. 434, 78 L.Ed.2d 366

Nov. 14, 1983

Nov. 14, 1983

Order/Opinion

86-02440

Reported Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

823 F.2d 1150

July 13, 1987

July 13, 1987

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 21, 2022, 3:06 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Indiana

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 7, 1980

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Prisoner seeking relief for alleged deliberate indifference of prison officials to his serious medical problems

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Indiana State Prison (Indiana), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Mixed

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1985 - 0

Issues

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Vision care

Type of Facility:

Government-run