Estate of Clark v. Walker, No. 16-3560 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Clark, who had a long history of alcoholism and depression, committed suicide five days after entering the custody of the Green Lake, Wisconsin, County Jail. The officers on duty at the time of his death did not know that Clark had a high risk of committing suicide. When he entered the jail, however, he was assessed as having a maximum risk of suicide. The intake staff who were aware of that risk—Officer Walker and Nurse Kuehn—had not initiated the jail’s suicide prevention protocol. Clark’s estate filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court denied motions by Walker and Kuehn, seeking qualified immunity. The court found numerous issues of material fact regarding Clark’s suicide risk, the defendants’ knowledge of that risk, and who was responsible for initiating the suicide protocol and stated that it was clearly established that inmates have the right to be free from deliberate indifference to a known risk of suicide. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of summary judgment. Nurse Kuehn was not entitled to qualified immunity as a private medical contractor. It was clearly established that Clark had a right to be free from deliberate indifference to his serious risk of suicide.