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The US Supreme Court on Monday revived a civil rights lawsuit filed by a convicted murderer in Texas against a prison guard accused of using pepper spray against him in an unprovoked attack in violation of the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
The justices threw out a lower court’s ruling that had protected corrections officer, Tajudeen Alamu, from inmate Prince McCoy’s lawsuit under a legal defense called qualified immunity that shields government officials from civil litigation in certain circumstances.
McCoy’s lawyers said he has asthma and experienced physical and emotional effects from the 2016 incident at the Darrington prison in Rosharon, Texas.
The justices, in a brief order, directed the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the case in light of their ruling last November in another case also involving a claim arising from the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment bar on cruel and unusual punishment.
In that ruling, the justices let another Texas inmate pursue his claim that prison officials violated the Eighth Amendment by locking him up in cells with extremely filthy conditions.