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Lawsuit Filed for Man Left Handcuffed Over 50 Hours Without Food, Water or Toilet

By: Scottsdale Injury Lawyers LLC August 15, 2023 no comments

Lawsuit Filed for Man Left Handcuffed Over 50 Hours Without Food, Water or Toilet

Scottsdale Injury Lawyers recently filed a new lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against individuals employed by the Mohave County Superior Court and Mohave County Sheriff’s Department. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a man who was held in custody for over two days in handcuffs. He was also without food, water or a bathroom during that time.

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court of Arizona. It is entitled Christian Whitehall v. County of Mohave, Et Al. It was assigned to Judge Susan R. Bolton and Magistrate Judge Alison S. Bachus. The case number is 23-CV-08511.

Details About the Unlawful Custody

The lawsuit arose from the inhumane conditions of confinement endured by the client from the morning of July 29, 2022, into the afternoon of July 31, 2022. On Friday, July 29th, the client entered a plea agreement in a criminal matter in the Mohave County Superior Court.  A judicial assistant to the judge was tasked with contacting the Court Security Department and the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office to take the client into custody and to arrange for the client’s transport from the courthouse to the jail.

Image of Mohave County Superior Court posted on Google Maps by Federico Salvati

The judicial assistant contacted the Court Security Manager and requested that he take the client to a holding cell to wait for the transport. The client was placed in handcuffs and sent to a holding cell. The holding cell had no toilet or sink. No one from the court waited with the client for the transport. By the end of the day Friday, the client had not been picked up by the Sheriff’s Department. The client also had no further contact with anyone from the Court.

The Man Was Handcuffed in Custody For More than Two Days

More than 50 hours later, on Sunday, July 31st, one of the judges was at the Mohave County courthouse to prepare for the next day’s hearings. The judge heard pounding and screaming and called the Court Security Manager to help him investigate the source of the commotion. The Court Security manager and the judge discovered the client in handcuffs in the same holding cell that he had been placed in two days prior.

Photo of client prior to the incident.

No Food, Water or Toilet Was Provided During this Time

The client had been without food, water, a bed or a toilet the entire time. He had also been in handcuffs, which were applied so tight and for so long that he suffered permanent nerve damage. The client, who was severely dehydrated, begged the Court Security Manager to loosen the handcuffs and to give him some water. These requests were refused. When someone from the Sheriff’s Office arrived about 45 minutes later, the client’s handcuffs were loosened and he was finally given a cup of water.

The client, who was severely dehydrated, begged the Court Security Manager to loosen the handcuffs and to give him some water.

Why the Lawsuit Was Filed

Our lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of the client. We alleged that the acts and omissions of the defendants deprived the client of his Eighth Amendment right to basic necessities and humane conditions of confinement. We sued those responsible in their individual capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for these constitutional violations. We also asserted state law claims against these individuals. The state law claims included: negligence, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Eighth Amendment Violation Claim Under 42 U.S.C. § 1983

The Eighth Amendment imposes certain duties on prison officials: (1) to provide humane conditions of confinement; (2) to ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care; and (3) to “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.”  Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 832 (1994) (citing Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 526-27 (1984)). Under the Eighth Amendment, a convicted prisoner has the right to be free from “cruel and unusual punishments.”  In order to prove the defendant deprived the plaintiff of this right, the plaintiff must prove the following additional elements by a preponderance of the evidence:

  1. the plaintiff faced a substantial risk of serious harm; 2. the defendant was deliberately indifferent to that risk, that is, the defendant knew of it and disregarded it by failing to take reasonable measures to address it; and 3. the acts of the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff. “Deliberate indifference” is the conscious choice to disregard the consequences of one’s acts or omissions. (Ninth Circuit Model Jury Instruction, 9.27 modified for conditions of confinement).

42 U.S.C. § 1988 authorizes the award of attorney fees for a prevailing party enforcing a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim. As such, if our attorneys are successful in proving this claim for the client, we can request that the court order the defendants to pay our attorney fees.

The man was left in handcuffs for over two days applied so tightly he experienced permanent injury.

What is Needed to Prove a Negligence Claim In Arizona

To establish a claim for negligence, a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) a duty requiring the defendant to conform to a certain standard of care; (2) a breach by the defendant of that standard; (3) a causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) actual damages. Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 504, 667 P.2d 200, 204 (1983) (citing William L. Prosser, Handbook of the Law of Torts § 30, at 143 (4th ed.1971)).

How to Prove an Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim In Arizona

To prevail on a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Plaintiff must prove: 1. Defendants’ conduct was extreme and outrageous; and 2. Defendants’ conduct was either intentional or reckless; and 3. Defendants’ conduct causes Plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress. Conduct is “reckless” if a person is aware of and disregards the near certainty that it would result in emotional distress. (RAJI, 7th Ed., Intentional Tort Instruction 16).

The Elements of a False Imprisonment Claim Under Arizona Law

To prevail on a false imprisonment claim, Plaintiff must prove: 1. Defendants acted intentionally to restrain Plaintiff to an area within the Defendants’ control; 2. Defendants acted without lawful authority and without Plaintiff’s consent; 3. Defendants’ act resulted in the direct restraint of Plaintiff’s liberty or freedom of movement, either by actual force or from Plaintiff’s fear of force; and 4. Defendants’ act would have caused a reasonably prudent person in the same situation as the name of plaintiff to believe that he was restrained; and 5. Plaintiff was aware of or was harmed by the restraint. (RAJI, 7th Ed., Intentional Tort Instruction 13).

Our Experienced Attorneys Handle Complex Matters

The attorneys at Scottsdale Injury Lawyers, LLC often handle complex matters. We regularly handle routine personal injury cases as well, such as:

However, our attorneys have the experience and skill set to handle very difficult and unique cases. Some of those cases include: civil rights and police brutality, dental malpractice, medical malpractice, product liability, auto defect and federal appeals. In fact, many of these areas we do not even advertise for and clients find us nevertheless.

These cases often require litigation in federal court where most personal injury attorneys are not comfortable. We also handle high-level appellate matters. We currently have two cases pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

when you hire our attorneys, you are not hiring an inexperienced, paper-pushing, middleman with a law degree.

In sum, when you hire our attorneys, you are not hiring an inexperienced, paper-pushing, middleman with a law degree. You are securing high level representation by skilled trial lawyers who have the intellect and experience to handle very difficult and challenging cases.

Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney Today                  

If you or a loved one has a routine case or something very difficult, contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers, LLC today. Our firm can handle any case where someone was injured due to the fault of another. An attorney is available now to discuss your case. A consultation is free and we only earn a fee if we recover for you. Contact us today.

About the author: The content on this page was provided by Scottsdale personal injury attorney and civil rights lawyer Tony Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Previously Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report).  Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout Arizona and California. He is a trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is a member of the Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association, Scottsdale Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project and Consumer Attorneys of California, among other organizations.

Disclaimer: The information on this web site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information on this page is attorney advertising. Reading and relying upon the content on this page does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, you should contact our law firm for a free consultation and to discuss your specific case and issues.


[1] https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2417836767044325448&q=Farmer+v.+Brennan&hl=en&as_sdt=806

[2] https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=13418941642578748496&q=Ontiveros+v.+Borak,+136+Ariz.+500&hl=en&as_sdt=806

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