Richard Lee Pollard (plaintiff) was a prisoner at a federal institution that was operated by Wackenhunt Corrections Corporation, a private company. In 2002, Pollard filed suit against Minneci and other Wackenhunt employees (defendants) in federal court, claiming cruel and unusual punishment in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Pollard sought damages for pain and injuries he allegedly suffered due to inadequate medical care after he slipped and fell in the prison. The district court held that no Eighth Amendment claim exists against employees of a private company that operates a federal prison. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held the cause of action was proper and reversed the district court ruling. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari due to conflicting decisions among courts of appeal.