Swaney v. Lopez

Respondents Hector Lopez and Enrique Montijo are inmates who were left to suffer in their cells for days with severe botulism poisoning, despite obvious symptoms and repeated pleas for medical assistance. Both sued the correctional officers who respond to their pleas for help. The district court held that disputed factual issues precluded summary judgment for two correctional officers sued for acting with deliberate indifference to these two inmates’ serious medical needs. The court of appeals, agreeing that there are disputed factual issues, affirmed. The two officers then sought review in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Public Citizen served as co-counsel for Lopez and Montijo in the Supreme Court. The brief in opposition to the officers’ petition explained that the court of appeals lacked appellate jurisdiction over the officers’ interlocutory appeals, that there is no conflict among the lower courts as to whether conduct such as that of the two officers’ constitutes deliberate indifference, and that the lower courts defined the right at issue at the proper level of specificity.