Kelly Shea Delvac and Gage Eller Win Victory in Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Civil Rights Case
Kelly Shea Delvac and Gage Eller from the Pepperdine Caruso Law Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic argued on behalf of Arizona prisoner Adam Sernas in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Sernas brought a deliberate indifference claim under the Eighth Amendment because he told prison officials about threats made on his life by other inmates, but Mr. Sernas alleged that the prison officials did not protect him from the threatening inmates. He was directed to return to his housing unit, where he was beaten within fifteen minutes of returning. Mr. Sernas filed a complaint in federal district court, but the complaint was thrown out under the 1915A screening process for failure to state a claim.
On appeal, Kelly and Gage argued that Mr. Sernas's complaint contained all of the facts necessary to state a claim for deliberate indifference, as well as other constitutional violations under the First and Fourteenth Amendments for the prison officials' conduct occurring after Mr. Sernas returned from receiving medical attention.
The Ninth Circuit panel ruled in the appellate team's favor, finding that Mr. Sernas stated an Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against many of the defendants. Although the panel did not agree that constitutional violations existed on the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims, the team won on their primary argument.
The argument took place remotely on May 13 at the appellate law firm Horvitz & Levy LLP. Professors Curt Cutting and Mark Kressel direct the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic and supervise the Caruso Law participants.