Bowen v. Warden, No. 15-11109 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
After Terrance Bowen was beaten to death by his cellmate, Carl Merkerson, at Baldwin State Prison, the administrator of Bowen's estate filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that Bowen's Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment was violated when he was housed in a cell with Merkerson. The district court dismissed the action, holding that it did not state Eighth Amendment claims against the prison officials and that, in any event, the officials were entitled to qualified immunity. The court reversed as to claims against Deputy Warden Doug Underwood and Corrections Officer Cager Edward Davis. In this case, Deputy Warden Underwood and Officer Davis allegedly knew from the population chart and the cell checklist that Merkerson, a convicted murderer, was designated a Level III mental health inmate who had been transferred to Unit K-3, “the lock-down segregation unit for disciplinary, protected custody and mental health individuals,” after assaulting his former cellmate. They also allegedly were aware of the specifics of Merkerson’s severe paranoid schizophrenia, his delusions, and his violent impulses. Therefore, the court concluded that the amended complaint alleges sufficient facts showing that Deputy Warden Underwood and Officer Davis were both aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm existed, and also drew the inference. The court affirmed in all other respects.