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Coulthurst v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
214 F.3d 106 (2000)


Facts

Dorrell Coulthurst (plaintiff), a federal prison inmate, was lifting weights in the facility’s exercise room when a cable connecting a pull down bar to the weights snapped bringing the bar down onto Coulthurst’s shoulders and neck with approximately 270 pounds of force. As a result, Coulthurst suffered a torn rotator cuff and various injuries to his back and neck. Coulthurst filed suit in federal district court under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b), against the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (defendant) alleging his injuries were caused by BOP’s negligence in failing to inspect and replace when necessary the weight equipment and cable. Bureau of Prison guidelines required prison officials to routinely visit exercise areas and determine whether the equipment was arranged in a safe manner and used properly by the inmates. The guidelines contained no instructions, however, regarding the procedures to be followed by a prison employee related to the inspection of the weight equipment. The BOP moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that the discretionary function exception (DFE) barred recovery by Coulthurst even if negligence could be established. The district court granted BOP’s motion. Coulthurst appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Leval, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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