Estate of Simpson v. Gorbett, No. 16-2899 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Simpson fell off an upper bunk while incarcerated in the Bartholomew County Jail for a drunken driving conviction. Simpson was intoxicated when he reported to the jail to serve his weekend stay. Officers placed him in a holding cell. After they thought he was sober, they assigned him to an upper bunk, although he was obese. While sleeping, Simpson went into convulsions and fell off the bunk on to the concrete floor. He died from his injuries. His estate sued, arguing that the conditions under which the jail kept Simpson and the care he received were inadequate under the Eighth Amendment. The district court found insufficient evidence to show the defendants were aware of, but disregarded, a risk to Simpson’s health and safety and granted them summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The defendants tailored their care for Simpson to account for his intoxication, even asking Simpson if he was experiencing any withdrawal symptoms. Simpson said no. The deputies believed he was sober when they moved him. Had they known about Simpson’s alcoholism and the risk posed by withdrawal, they might have taken additional steps to protect him. Without any indication that they knew of a serious risk, they cannot be held liable under section 1983 for either the conditions of confinement or the medical treatment they provided.