Facts of the Case
“A state inmate was undergoing a treatment program for hepatitis C. The treatment would take a year to complete with weekly self-injections by use of a syringe. Soon after the inmate began his treatment, one syringe made available to all inmates for medical purposes disappeared. The officials concluded that the inmate had taken the syringe and did not believe the inmate when he said otherwise. Thus, the officials found the inmate had violated the state prison conduct code and removed him from the program, stopping his treatment. The prison’s protocol mandated a one-year waiting period and six months of drug education class before treatment would start again. Thus, there would be an 18-month delay before he would be able to restart treatment. The complaint stated that the decision to remove petitioner from his prescribed medication was endangering his life, and that the medication was withheld “shortly after” the one-year program started, that he was still in need of treatment, and that the officials were refusing to provide treatment. The case was dismissed by the trial court holding that the allegations of the inmate were conclusory.”
Was a challenge to a state’s efforts to make English its official language a justiciable controversy after the state employee who mounted the challenge left her government job?
“In a per curiam opinion, the Court held that a plaintiff can demonstrate that he has suffered harm as a result of being denied medical treatment. The plaintiff must be able to allege that harm was caused sufficient enough to meet the pleading standard by ending his medical treatment. In this case, Erickson was able to make specific claims, that were more than conclusory statements, that supported his claim that refusing his medical treatment had caused him substantial harm that was independent from the harm the disease itself caused. The Court remanded the decision for further review.Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion in which he argued that a plaintiff cannot claim that exposure to the risk of harm violates the Eighth Amendment. Rather, Thomas suggests that the plaintiff would have to actually experience harm before he can allege a violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.Justice Antonin Scalia would have denied the petition for the writ of certiorari.”
Citation: 551 US 89 (2007)
Decided: Jun 4, 2007
Granted: Jun 4, 2007
Case Brief: 2007