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Inmate May Pursue Smoking Claim


A federal appeals court is allowing a prisoner to pursue a claim that he was exposed to excessive tobacco smoke that caused so much discomfort it violated the ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Prisons cannot expose inmates to smoke that endangers their health or becomes excessive, said the opinion by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Maybe there’s a level of ambient tobacco smoke that, whether or not it creates a serious health hazard, inflicts acute discomfort amounting, especially if protracted, to punishment,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the panel. “Whether the plaintiff’s claim rises to this level or instead amounts just to a complaint about something more akin to an annoyance than to oppression, … is impossible to determine from the complaint.”

The opinion also allows the prisoner to pursue claims that he was denied a walking cane and visits with his wife.

A hat tip to How Appealing, which carried news of the ruling.

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