Supreme Court Says Anderson County Jail Not Responsible For Attack On Inmate

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that Anderson County is not liable for damages beyond medical costs after an inmate sustained injuries from an attack by cellmates.

Kenneth E. King had spent the night in the Anderson County Detention Facility after being arrested for driving on a suspended license – a charge that ultimately was in error. His release was ordered at 11:30 a.m., but it took more than three hours for the pretrial release officer to process the paperwork. During that time, Mr. King was severely beaten, causing permanent injuries to his eye.

Mr. King sued the county seeking monetary damages for the attack, stating that Anderson County was negligent in not releasing him in a timely manner and should have known that there was a danger of him being attacked.

The Court focused on the legal requirement that, in order for the county to be liable, officials had to have some type of warning that Mr. King would be attacked—that it was foreseeable.

“There is no evidence that Anderson County Detention Facility officials knew or should have known that Mr. King would become the victim of an attack by his cellmates after he was returned to his cell to await pretrial release,” wrote Justice Cornelia A. Clark in the Opinion.

The Opinion reverses a lower court ruling that determined 55% of the fault for the attack rested with Anderson County and ordered the county to pay $93,500 in nonmedical damages. The county remains liable for Mr. King’s medical costs resulting from the injuries sustained in the attack at the jail.

In a dissenting Opinion, Chief Justice Gary R. Wade disagreed, deferring to the trial court’s finding that Anderson County was liable for Mr. King’s injuries, which were sustained after Anderson County officials failed to timely release him from jail. 

To read the majority opinion in Kenneth E. King v. Anderson County, authored by Justice Clark, and the dissent by Chief Justice Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov



Senator Bell Receives Tennessee District Attorneys' Guardian Of Public Safety Award

The state’s 31 district attorneys have recognized state Sen. Mike Bell with the Guardian of Public Safety Award.   The Guardian of Public Safety Award is given to a legislator who recognizes the necessity of protecting our citizens and takes action to advance public safety.   “Senator Bell is keenly aware of the public safety issues faced by Tennesseans on a daily ... (click for more)

Rep. Carter Receives Tennessee District Attorneys' Public Safety Advocate Award

The state’s 31 district attorneys have recognized state Rep. Mike Carter with the Public Safety Advocate Award. The Public Safety Advocate Award is given to a legislator who "recognizes the necessity of protecting our citizens and takes action to advance public safety." “Representative Carter is keenly aware of the public safety issues faced by Tennesseans on a daily basis. ... (click for more)

Strong Winds Wreak Havoc In Chattanooga

A storm with wind gusts up to 70 mph did considerable damage in downtown Chattanooga around 2 p.m. on Saturday. Fencing along Miller Park was twisted onto a nearby lane of traffic on Market Street. A sizable tree was split, causing it to fall across Cherry Street between Third and Fourth streets. A number of traffic lights were knocked out of service. This was the warning ... (click for more)

2 Shot In Separate Incidents Early Saturday Morning; 1 Victim Is A Juvenile Girl

Two people were shot early Saturday morning in separate incidents. The first incident was at  3:30 a.m. when the Chattanooga Police Department responded to a person shot on the 1000 block of North Willow Street.  Upon arrival, officers made contact with the victim who was suffering from a gunshot wound.    HCEMS transported the victim to a local hospital ... (click for more)

Protecting Family Homes On Signal Mountain

The Signal Mountain Town Council will vote at their upcoming July 9 meeting on whether to approve a controversial rezoning application regarding property located at the northwestern corner of Albert Road and Taft Highway.  Prior to the rezoning request, Albert Road was the redline on Taft Highway past which commercial development within the town did not extend. This rezoning ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Saturday Funnies

You know that rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins are deadly reptiles that we in the South must avoid at all costs but then again, snakes are part-and-parcel of the Sothern culture. Some years ago, before the Alabama football team was preparing to play Notre Dame, a Chicago sports writer asked a Crimson Tide player the bigger difference between the two college juggernauts ... (click for more)