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Konah v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District Circuit

September 20, 2013

LENA T. KONAH, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

OPINION

ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, District Judge.

Lena T. Konah worked as a licensed practical nurse at the D.C. Jail until the events that underlie this lawsuit caused her to take a leave of absence and eventually decide not to return. On her last day of work, Ms. Konah was accosted by a group of semi-clothed inmates who made repeated lewd comments and one of whom grabbed her buttocks. Totally unnerved by the experience, Ms. Konah contends that the District of Columbia failed to train its correctional employees to respond adequately to inmates' sexual abuse of staff and thus violated her right to equal protection under the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. The District moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant the motion.

I. FACTS

This case has previously been addressed by the Court. The facts and procedural history are set forth in detail in Konah v. District of Columbia ( Konah I ), 815 F.Supp.2d 61 (D.D.C. 2011) (granting in part and denying in part motion to dismiss; exercising supplemental jurisdiction over state-law claims) and in Konah v. District of Columbia ( Konah II ), 915 F.Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C. 2013) (granting summary judgment to Unity and Sgt. Robert Jefferson; granting partial judgment on the pleadings to the District). There is now only one count remaining: a claim against the District of Columbia under Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 691-92 (1978), alleging sexual harassment by inmates due to inadequate training of correctional officers. See 3d Am. Compl. [Dkt. 64] ΒΆΒΆ 54-62. This Opinion reviews only the facts relevant to the outstanding claim and states them in the light most favorable to Ms. Konah. No additional discovery was conducted after Konah II was issued, and that opinion was based on an extensive record, which included depositions of many key witnesses, documentary evidence, and video recordings. Therefore, the Court cites to the facts as set forth in Konah II except where additions are necessary or where the parties contend that a material factual dispute remains.

A. Background

From November 2006 through September 2009, Ms. Konah worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for Unity Health Care, Inc., which provides medical services to inmates at the D.C. Central Detention Facility (CDF, also referred to as the D.C. Jail) under contract with the District's Department of Corrections (DOC). Konah II, 915 F.Supp.2d at 12. One of the duties of LPNs was to distribute medicine to inmates, which nurses typically did in the housing units of the jail. Id. at 13. Correctional officers were required to accompany nurses at all times when they dispensed medication, and if an officer was not immediately available, a nurse could "just come back and wait for one." Id. (quoting Konah Dep. at 100; other record citations omitted). Waiting for an officer was Ms. Konah's typical practice. Id.

It was not uncommon for inmates to insult or assault staff at CDF by cursing them or using other inappropriate language, masturbating in front of them, or throwing urine, feces, or other liquids at them. Id. at 13, 25. The targets of these attacks were both correctional employees and contractors, including Unity nurses; both men and women were victims. Id.; see also Jefferson Dep., Def. Mot. Summ. J. (Def. MSJ) [Dkt. 90], Ex. 2 [Dkt. 90-4] at 42-45, 91-92 ("Q.... [I]s the yelling, the cursing, the throwing of fecal matter, the throwing of urine, is that only limited to female officers? A. No."). As Dr. Benedict Kargbo, a CDF treatment specialist, testified:

Q. Is the act of inmates throwing urine or feces at correctional staff, is that common?

A. Yes. It happen[s] all the time.
Q. And does it happen in other jails that you've worked in?
A. Yes, it does.
Q. And is it directed at females only?
A. No.
Q. Is it directed at ...

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