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Deepika Chandrashekar and Chloe Wigul Win Ninth Circuit Appeal for Clinic Client

Pepperdine Caruso Law third-year students and participants in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Deepika Chandrashekar and Chloe Wigul, represented Glenn Leonard, an inmate in Oregon State Prison.  Leonard brought a lawsuit against prison officials after he experienced a brutal assault by a fellow prisoner.  He asserted civil rights claims against the prison officials because he had warned them about other prisoners threatening to assault him and the prison officials did nothing to protect him.  His complaint also alleged that prison officials violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him when he filed formal complaints against them.  The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants.  Deepika and Chloe prepared briefs on Leonard’s behalf and presented oral argument to the Ninth Circuit in November 2022.

In January 2023, the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion, ruling 2-1 in favor of Leonard.  The Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court had improperly granted summary judgment on Leonard’s claim that the prison officials had violated the Eighth Amendment by acting with deliberate indifference to Leonard’s safety, after being notified that he faced a substantial risk of serious harm.  The Oregon Attorney General’s office initially indicated that it would seek rehearing en banc, but ultimately decided not to challenge the panel’s decision.  As a result, the case will be remanded to the district court so that Leonard can proceed with his claim for damages as a result of the assault.