Third Circuit Court of Appeals Allows Case Alleging Misconduct in Federal Prison to Continue

  • September 24, 2012

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, largely affirmed the decision of a Pennsylvania District Court, unanimously holding that claims by Peter Bistrian, a former pre-sentencing detainee at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, that various prison officials violated his constitutional rights, should proceed. Bistrian alleges that, while awaiting sentencing, he assisted prison authorities who were investigating violence at the facility. When Bistrian’s cooperation was revealed due to negligence of prison authorities, those authorities failed to protect him from those he had cooperated against. Shortly thereafter, Bistrian was viciously attacked by one of those inmates, resulting in severe physical injury. Bistrian also alleges that he was improperly placed in segregated housing for 447 days, in part in retaliation for complaints he raised in court. Reviewing the District Court’s denial of qualified immunity to the prison officials, the Third Circuit agreed that Bistrian had alleged several violations of clearly-established constitutional rights, and remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings. ECBAWM attorney Andrew Wilson argued before the Third Circuit, and he was joined on the briefs by Adam Pulver, Eisha Jain, and Jonathan Abady.