Rico v. Ducart, No. 19-15541 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court's denial of qualified immunity to Pelican Bay State Prison officials in a civil rights action brought by plaintiff, an inmate at Pelican Bay, alleging claims over prison noise stemming from the orders of a federal district court adopting recommendations of its Special Master to implement round-the-clock welfare checks to prevent inmate suicides in California's prison system.
The panel held that, on the specific facts presented here, no reasonable officer would have understood that these court-ordered actions were violating the constitutional rights of the inmates. The panel explained that, even if the Pelican Bay officials haphazardly implemented the Guard One system, no reasonable official in these circumstances would believe that creating additional noise while carrying out mandatory suicide checks for prisoner safety clearly violated plaintiff's constitutional rights. In this case, where defendants were following court-ordered procedures to enhance inmate safety that are inherently loud, all Pelican Bay officials are entitled to qualified immunity.