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Estelle V. Gamble, 429 U.S.A 97 (1976)

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Case Brief: Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.A 97 (1976).

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Case Brief

Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S 97 (1976) decision by Judge Marshall, Thurgood at the Supreme Court of the United States

Facts: The case revolved around the respondent J.W. Gamble, a convict of the Department of Corrections in Texas. On November 9, 1973, while the respondent was working in a textile mill, a huge cotton bale-over 500 pounds fell on top of him as he was unpacking a truck. He got several injuries comprising considerable damage on his lower back. At the start, physicians at the Texas prison attempted to determine if Gamble herniated his disc, but the medics established that he did not. Hence, they gave him some medicine and sent him back to working on other prison assignments. Unfortunately, the pain did not diminish, and he snubbed constant demands for returning to work.

The prison wardens decided to reprimand Gamble for his stubbornness and transferred him to solitary confinement. Then Gamble recognised that his situation had deteriorated and he filed a pro se allegation that asserted he had been exposed to harsh and unusual punishment at the prison. The district court discharged the case however on appeal the 5th Circuit Appeals Court overturned the dismissal. The Fifth Circuit decision cited that the lack of medical treatment and proper diagnosis that the Texas prison gave the convict and the solitary confinement compounded Gamble’s problems. In the end, the Texas government appealed the verdict to the U.S. A Supreme Court which later granted certiorari in the Gamble case.

Legal Issues: The first legal issue is whether the respondent Gamble had stated an application upon which relief may have been granted or advance the constitutional matter when contending that he had been exposed to harsh and unfair punishment. The second issue was whether the Fifth Circuit was wrong in overturning the dismissal of the lower court ruling.

The Judicial Conclusion: The case analysis by the court dug deeper into the specifics and the specific complaints of the plaintiff. At the start, the court noted that Gamble had received medical attention at the prison over a dozen times while he has been imprisoned over a few months. Furthermore, it specified that if any medical care offered to Gamble was insufficient, it might have just been an accident or just negligent-a resolution that should have been made by the prison’s medical professionals. Though, the court did not set standards for the required medical treatment accorded to prisoners. It ruled that prison systems subject the prisoners to harsh or unfair punishment if the prisoners act with deliberate irrelevance to the inmates’ medical needs. Therefore, the court concluded that thoughtful indifference to acute medical needs of the detainees institutes the ‘needless and malicious pain infliction.



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