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Court Rejects "De Minimis" Injury Requirement in Prisoner's Excessive Force Case

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on February 22, 2010 1:06 PM

The other ruling the Court handed down today, Wilkins v. Gaddy, No. 08-10914, involved a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claim of excessive force by a prisoner.  The district court had dismissed the complaint and the Fourth Circuit had affirmed such ruling.

But, as the Court wrote:  "In requiring what amounts to a showing of significant injury in order to state an excessive force claim, the Fourth Circuit has strayed from the clear holding of this Court in Hudson. . . . Reversing the Court of Appeals, this Court rejected the notion that 'significant injury' is a threshold requirement for stating an excessive force claim."

The Court reversed, holding that the district court's approach (based on its determination that plaintiff's injuries were "de minimis") was at odds with precedent directing it to decide excessive force claims based on the nature of the force, rather than the extent of the injury.

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