July 1, 2020

Milbank Associate Prevails in Federal Appeals Court in Lawsuit Filed by an Inmate Who Alleges Guards Beat and Choked Him During a Tactical Shakedown


A federal appeals court last Thursday revived a lawsuit filed by an inmate, Carlos Bowman, who alleges guards beat and choked him during a tactical shakedown at the Western Illinois Correctional Center. Milbank associate Rachel Siegel argued the case Carlos Bowman v. Jeffrey Korte, et al., No. 18-2371.

Plaintiff Carlos Bowman was an inmate at Western Illinois Correctional Center when, under the guise of a tactical shakedown, he was subjected to cruel and unusual treatment. After completing the prison grievance process, completing discovery, and defeating a motion for summary judgment on the merits, Mr. Bowman began to prepare for trial. But just before trial was scheduled to begin, Defendants for the first time sought to argue that Plaintiff had not “exhausted” his claims, as the Prison Litigation Reform Act requires. The district court granted Defendants’ request to file an out-of-time motion for summary judgment on exhaustion (23 months after the deadline for filing exhaustion-based summary judgment motions had passed) and ultimately granted the motion on the basis that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust. The Court of Appeals ruled that the summary judgment motion should not have been granted because it was not timely.

Ms. Siegel commented in an article on the case published by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that she is pleased the Seventh Circuit cleared the way for her client to have “his day in court to prove his claims.” Noting that other litigants will also benefit from the ruling, she added: “Judge Scudder’s concise opinion is a win not only for Mr. Bowman himself, but all pro se litigants who too often get short shrift in federal court.”

The Milbank team also included Chair and Litigation partner Scott Edelman and Litigation associates Kim Goldberg and Ryan McKenney.

With a longstanding track record of pro bono service and commitment to justice, Milbank has dedicated hundreds of thousands of pro bono hours to supporting legal aid and pro bono organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative, the Center for Appellate Litigation, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the Office of the Appellate Defender, and advocating for organizations like The Legal Aid Society and Legal Services Corp., which are some of the largest providers of legal aid in the United States. In the last year, the firm has worked on nearly 700 pro bono matters worldwide, providing over 62,000 pro bono hours towards citizenship and immigration matters, parole eligibility matters and criminal appeals. To learn more about Milbank, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.