The Law School Authority

City of Louisville v. Humphrey Case Brief

Summary of City of Louisville v. Humphrey, 461 S.W.2d 352 (Ky. App. 1970)

Facts: P’s husband was drunk at 2:15 am and police received report that he was shaking doors in the neighborhood.  Police arrested husband and put him into the drunk tank.  Prison officers testified that after the husband reached the prison, he was extremely drunk and was collapsing.  When the officers tired to awake the husband the next day, he was unconscious and later died at the hospital.  It was concluded that he died by hematoma from injuries apparently received around the left eye and forehead.

Issue: Should the doctrine of res ipsa locator apply to this case?

Holding: No

Rationale: P failed to prove that either officer or some fellow inmates were responsible for the injuries.  Even if inmates are responsible, city will still not be liable unless it knew before hand the violent propensities of the inmate.  In big city jails, many drunks are brought in and it is impossible to provide each drunk with a separate 100% secure cell.

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