CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CORP. v. MALESKO

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
00-860
Petitioner 
Correctional Services Corp.
Respondent 
Malesko
Opinion 
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court, supporting the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

In 1993, John E. Malesko was assigned to a bedroom on the fifth floor of the Le Marquis Community Correctional Center, a facility that houses federal inmates run by the Correctional Services Corporation (CSC) under contract with the Bureau of Prisons. After CSC instituted a policy requiring inmates residing below the sixth floor to use the stairs rather than the elevator, Malesko, who was afflicted with a heart condition limiting his ability to climb stairs, was exempted form the policy. When a CSC employee did not let Malesko use the elevator, he climbed the stairs, suffered a heart attack, and fell. Subsequently, Malesko filed a suit, alleging that CSC was negligence in refusing him the use of the elevator. Under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, in which the U.S. Supreme Court recognized for the first time an implied private action for damages against federal officers alleged to have violated a citizen's constitutional rights, the District Court dismissed the suit, finding that such an action may only be maintained against individuals. In reversing, the Court of Appeals reasoned that such private entities should be held liable under Bivens to accomplish Bivens' goal of providing a remedy for constitutional violations.

Question 

Should the implied private action for damages against federal officers alleged to have violated a citizen's constitutional rights, first recognized in Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388, be extended to allow recovery against a private corporation operating a halfway house under contract with the Bureau of Prisons?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Correctional Services Corp., 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision:

No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that Bivens' limited holding may not be extended to confer a right of action for damages against private entities acting under color of federal law. The Court reasoned that the threat of suit against an individual's employer was not the kind of deterrence contemplated by the Bivens decision. The Court also noted that the purpose of the Bivens decision was to deter individual federal officers from committing constitutional violations. "In 30 years of Bivens jurisprudence we have extended its holding only twice, to provide an otherwise nonexistent cause of action against individual officers alleged to have acted unconstitutionally, or to provide a cause of action for a plaintiff who lacked any alternative remedy for harms caused by an individual officer's unconstitutional conduct. Where such circumstances are not present, we have consistently rejected invitations to extend Bivens,"wrote Chief Justice Rehnquist.

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CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CORP. v. MALESKO. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 10 November 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_860>.
CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CORP. v. MALESKO, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_860 (last visited November 10, 2014).
"CORRECTIONAL SERVICES CORP. v. MALESKO," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed November 10, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_860.