Dillon v. Rogers
This lawsuit charged officials and guards of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections — including guards “loaned out” from Rikers Island, N.Y. — with beating and abusing a detainee in violation of the federal constitution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state tort laws. The abuses occurred at a facility in Jena, La., where Keith Dillon was housed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Dillon was a pre-trial detainee being held on DUI charges at the Jefferson Parish Jail when Katrina hit. Like many others, he was then transferred to a facility in Jena. Those familiar with the situation report that the abuses suffered at Jena are among the most violent and widespread civil rights violations that occurred in Katrina’s wake. As a result of the beatings he suffered at Jena, Dillon now has no hearing in his left ear, pain in his back and knees, severe shooting pain in his right shoulder and down his bicep, frequent headaches, blurred vision and broken teeth.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that no administrative grievance procedures were available to him, as a matter of fact and law, at the facilities where he was incarcerated. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted summary judgment to defendants and dismissed the case. Public Justice filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit.
On February 4, 2010, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the district court had improperly dismissed Dillon’s lawsuit and should have permitted him the opportunity to collect and present evidence concerning the availability of administrative remedies. The case settled after this ruling.
Lead trial counsel was Soren Gisleson of of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, L.L.P. in New Orleans. Public Justice’s Adele Kimmel and Amy Radon were co-counsel and handled the appeal.