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Banks v. City of Emeryville

United States District Court for the Northern District of California
109 F.R.D. 535 (N.D. Cal. 1985)


On Halloween 1982, Mercedes Banks was arrested in Emeryville, California for public intoxication. She was brought to the Emeryville Police Department where she was placed in a holding cell. Later that night, the police station Banks was being held in caught fire and she burned to death inside. It was eventually determined that the fire originated in her mattress. Banks’ family (plaintiff) brought suit against the City of Emeryville (defendant) and the chief of the Emeryville Police Department (defendant), alleging under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that the jail cell was inadequately furnished with dangerous material. The Banks family further contended that the police department inadequately supervised the jail, which lead to Banks’ death. The city argued that Banks’ death was a suicide. The defendants later filed a third party complaint against various parties who were responsible for manufacturing, distributing, and selling the mattress involved in Banks’ death. The defendants sought indemnification or contribution from these parties based on a theory that the mattress was a defective product. The third party defendant’s filed a motion to dismiss the third party complaint.

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