8.24.2007

S.D. Georgia Notes Split Re Whether Inmate May Recover Nominal and Punitive Damages in 1983 Claim

Per Miller v. King, Slip Copy, 2007 WL 2164534 (S.D.Ga. Jul 24 , 2007) (NO. CIV A CV698-109):

The Eleventh Circuit has yet to decide whether Section 1997e(e) precludes claims for nominal and punitive damages along with compensatory damages. Boxer X v. Donald, 169 Fed. Appx. 555, 558-59, 558 n. 1 (11th Cir.2006). Nominal damages are appropriate in a Section 1983 case if the plaintiff establishes a violation of a fundamental constitutional right, even if he cannot prove actual injury sufficient to entitle him to compensatory damages. Carey v. Piphus, 435 U.S. 247, 266, 98 S.Ct. 1042, 1053-1054, 55 L.Ed.2d 252 (1978). Punitive damages may be imposed under Section 1983 with the specific purpose of deterring or punishing violations of constitutional rights. Id. at 257 n. 11, 1049. Although the Eleventh Circuit has yet to decide whether Section 1997e(e) precludes a prisoner from seeking nominal or punitive damages, the Court of Appeals has noted that the Second, Third, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Circuits have concluded that Section 1997e(e) does not preclude a prisoner from seeking nominal damages, Boxer X v. Donald, 169 Fed. Appx. at 558-59, and that circuits elsewhere are split on the issue of punitive damages under Section 1997e(e). Id . at 558 n. 1.

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