California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

3040. Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth Amendment—Substantial Risk of Serious Harm (42 U.S.C. § 1983)

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3040.Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth
Amendment—Substantial Risk of Serious Harm (42 U.S.C. § 1983)
[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 while imprisoned, [describe violation that created risk, e.g.,
[name of plaintiff]was placed in a cell block with rival gang
2. That [name of defendant]’s conduct created a substantial risk of
serious harm to [name of plaintiff]’s health or safety;
3. That [name of defendant] knew that [his/her] conduct created a
substantial risk of serious harm to [name of plaintiff]’s health or
4. That there was no reasonable justification for the conduct;
5. That [name of defendant] was acting or purporting to act in the
performance of [his/her] official duties;
6. That [name of plaintiff] was harmed; and
7. That [name of defendant]’s conduct was a substantial factor in
causing [name of plaintiff]’s harm.
Whether the risk was obvious is a factor that you may consider in
determining whether [name of defendant] knew of the risk.
New September 2003; Revised December 2010, June 2011; Renumbered from CACI
No. 3011 December 2012; Revised December 2014, June 2015
Directions for Use
Give this instruction in a case involving conduct that allegedly created a substantial
risk of serious harm to an inmate. (See Farmer v. Brennan (1994) 511 U.S. 825
[114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811].) For an instruction on deprivation of medical
care, see CACI No. 3041, Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eighth
Amendment—Medical Care. For an instruction involving the deprivation of
necessities, see CACI No. 3043, Violation of Prisoner’s Federal Civil Rights—Eight
Amendment—Deprivation of Necessities.
In prison-conditions cases, the inmate must show that the defendant was
deliberately indifferent to his or her health or safety. (Farmer, supra, 511 U.S. at p.
834.) “Deliberate indifference” involves a two part inquiry. First, the inmate must
show that the prison officials were aware of a “substantial risk of serious harm” to
the inmate’s health or safety. Second, the inmate must show that the prison officials
had no “reasonable” justification for the conduct, in spite of that risk. (Thomas v.
Ponder (9th Cir. 2010) 611 F.3d 1144, 1150.) Elements 3 and 4 express the
deliberate-indifference components.
The “official duties” referred to in element 5 must be duties created by 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 5.
Sources and Authority
• Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights. Title 42 United States Code section
“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,supra, 511 U.S. at p. 834, internal citations
• “Whether a prison official had the requisite knowledge of a substantial risk is a
question of fact subject to demonstration in the usual ways, including inference
from circumstantial evidence, and a factfinder may conclude that a prison
official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that the risk was obvious.”
(Farmer,supra, 511 U.S. at p. 842, internal citation omitted.)
• “When instructing juries in deliberate indifference cases with such issues of
proof, courts should be careful to ensure that the requirement of subjective
culpability is not lost. It is not enough merely to find that a reasonable person
would have known, or that the defendant should have known, and juries should
be instructed accordingly.” (Farmer,supra, 511 U.S. at p. 843 fn. 8.)
• “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.)
• “The precise role of legitimate penological interests is not entirely clear in the
context of an Eighth Amendment challenge to conditions of confinement. The
Supreme Court has written that the test of Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 107 S.
Ct. 2254, 96 L. Ed. 2d 64 (1987), which requires only a reasonable relationship
to a legitimate penological interest to justify prison regulations, does not apply
to Eighth Amendment claims. The existence of a legitimate penological
justification has, however, been used in considering whether adverse treatment
is sufficiently gratuitous to constitute punishment for Eighth Amendment
purposes.” (Grenning v. Miller-Stout (9th Cir. 2014) 739 F.3d 1235, 1240,
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
Secondary Sources
8 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Constitutional Law, § 826
3Civil 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)