During this year’s spring term, the Supreme Court held that the Regional Jail Authority (“RJA”) was not liable for a series of rapes committed at the jail by one of its corrections officers. The vote was 4-1, with Justice Davis dissenting. In June, 2014, the Court granted a rehearing.
On October 30, the Court issued a new opinion reaching the same result. According to Justice Workman, writing again for the 4-1 majority, the plaintiff did not allege any constitutional claims against the RJA, but only a claim for simple negligence. “The Court,” she stated, “takes the pleadings…as it finds them.” Thus, the plaintiff’s “failure to identify a clearly established right which the [RJA] violated through its training, supervision and retention of [the corrections officer] is … fatal.”
Justice Davis chastised the Court for missing “a golden opportunity” to “correct a grave injustice done to the victim and to our law on governmental immunity.” Justice Davis noted that in 2013 there were 36 reports of sexual misconduct involving RJA staff, and the number has climbed to 50 in 2014. “Under the majority opinion, these numbers mean absolutely nothing, because the [RJA] can never be held accountable for its failure to provide basic protections to women behind bars.”