Davidson v. Cannon,
474 U.S. 344 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Davidson v. Cannon, 474 U.S. 344 (1985)

Davidson v. Cannon

No. 84-6470

Argued November 6, 1985

Decided January 21, 1986

474 U.S. 344


When threatened by a fellow inmate in the New Jersey State Prison, petitioner sent a note reporting the incident to respondent Assistant Superintendent of the prison, who read the note and sent it to respondent Corrections Sergeant, who, while informed of its contents, did not read it or notify other officers of the threat, and forgot about it by the time he went off duty. Two days later, the inmate attacked petitioner and inflicted serious injuries. Petitioner then brought a damages action against respondents in Federal District Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that they had violated his rights under, inter alia, the Fourteenth Amendment by negligently failing to protect him from the other inmate. After a bench trial, the District Court awarded damages, holding that petitioner was deprived of his liberty interest in personal security as a result of respondents' negligence and that such deprivation was without due process because of a New Jersey statute that protects prison officials from liability for injuries caused by one prisoner to another. The Court of Appeals reversed.

Held: The protections of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, whether procedural or substantive, are not triggered by lack of due care by prison officials. Daniels v. Williams, ante p. 474 U. S. 327. Respondents' lack of due care, while leading to serious injuries, simply does not approach the sort of abusive government conduct that the Due Process Clause was designed to prevent. Pp. 474 U. S. 347-348.

752 F.2d 817, affirmed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, POWELL, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, ante, p. 474 U. S. 336. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 474 U. S. 349. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 474 U. S. 349.

Page 474 U. S. 345

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