Estelle v. Gamble is the seminal case for prisoners' medical rights. In this case, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that a prisoner must show that there was a deliberate indifference to his or her medical needs or injuries in order to claim an Eighth Amendment violation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (1996). This deliberate indifference constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." U.S. Const. amend VIII.
Expert Testimony Not Required in Eighth Amendment Prisoner Case, 35 No. McQuillin Mun. Law Rep. NL 3 *
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What does this statute mean? This federal statute allows a person to sue the United States government for violations of his or her civil rights. This act applies to persons who act "under color"--or under the authority of--a "statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia," and who violate and/or deprive another's guaranteed rights.
How does this relate to the topic? Prisoners may bring a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against an applicable party when they feel there has been a civil rights violation, and they wish to enforce their rights.