California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3011. Violation of Prisoner's Federal Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. § 1983) - Eighth Amendment—General Conditions of Confinement Claim

3011. Violation of Prisoner's Federal Civil Rights (42 U.S.C. § 1983)—Eighth Amendment—General Conditions of Confinement Claim

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] subjected [him/ her] to prison conditions that violated [his/her] constitutional rights. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of plaintiff] was imprisoned under conditions that exposed [him/her] to a substantial risk of serious harm;

2. That [name of defendant] knew the conditions created a substantial risk of serious harm and disregarded that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to correct it;

3. That [name of defendant] was acting or purporting to act in the performance of [his/her] official duties;

4. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and

5. That [name of defendant]'s conduct was a substantial factor in causing [name of plaintiff]'s harm.

Directions for Use

The "official duties" referred to in element 3 must be duties created pursuant to any state, county, or municipal law, ordinance, or regulation. This aspect of color of law most likely will not be an issue for the jury, so it has been omitted to shorten the wording of element 3.

De minimis harm is insufficient to satisfy the fourth element. (Hudson v. McMillian (1992) 503 U.S. 1, 10-11 [112 S.Ct. 995, 117 L.Ed.2d 156], internal citations omitted.) If there is conflicting evidence on the issue of harm, the court may need to instruct the jury on the severity of the harm that must be proved.

Sources and Authority

42 U.S.C. section 1983 provides, in part: "Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United

States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law . . .."

"Section 1983 claims may be brought in either state or federal court." (Pitts v. County of Kern (1998) 17 Cal.4th 340, 348 [70 Cal.Rptr.2d 823, 949 P.2d 920].)

"It is undisputed that the treatment a prisoner receives in prison and the conditions under which he is confined are subject to scrutiny under the Eighth Amendment." (Helling v. McKinney (1993) 509 U.S. 25, 31 [113 S.Ct. 2475, 125 L.Ed.2d 22].)

"Our cases have held that a prison official violates the Eighth Amendment only when two requirements are met. First, the deprivation alleged must be, objectively, 'sufficiently serious.' For a claim . . . based on a failure to prevent harm, the inmate must show that he is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm. The second requirement follows from the principle that 'only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain implicates the Eighth Amendment.' To violate the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, a prison official must have a 'sufficiently culpable state of mind.' In prison-conditions cases that state of mind is one of 'deliberate indifference' to inmate health or safety . . .." (Farmer v. Brennan (1994) 511 U.S. 825, 834 [114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811], internal citations omitted.)

"We hold . . . that a prison official cannot be found liable under the Eighth Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement unless the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference." (Farmer, supra, 511 U.S. at p. 837.)

"[E]xtreme deprivations are required to make out a conditions-of-confinement claim. Because routine discomfort is 'part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society,' 'only those deprivations denying "the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities" are sufficiently grave to form the basis of an Eighth Amendment violation.' " (Hudson, supra, 503 U.S. at p. 9, internal citations omitted.)

"Prison officials have a duty to ensure that prisoners are provided adequate shelter, food, clothing, sanitation, medical care, and personal afety." (Johnson v. Lewis (9th Cir. 2000) 217 F.3d 726, 731, internal citations omitted.)

"The Supreme Court has interpreted the phrase 'under "color" of law' to mean 'under "pretense" of law.' A police officer's actions are under pretense of law only if they are 'in some way "related to the performance of his official duties.' " By contrast, an officer who is ' "pursuing his own goals and is not in any way subject to control by [his public employer],' " does not act under color of law, unless he 'purports or pretends' to do so. Officers who engage in confrontations for personal reasons unrelated to law enforcement, and do not 'purport[] or pretend[]' to be officers, do not act under color of law." (Huffman v. County of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 1998) 147 F.3d 1054, 1058, internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

3 Civil Rights Actions, Ch. 11, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of State Law—Prisons, ¶¶ 11.02-11.03 (Matthew Bender)

11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 114, Civil Rights: Prisoners' Rights, § 114.28 (Matthew Bender)

3 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 35, Civil Rights (Matthew Bender)

(New September 2003)