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Lambda Legal, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and the law firm Boies, Schiller, Flexner LLP filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Edward Gladney urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a district court’s order that granted summary judgment to the United States.

While in custody at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona (“USP-Tucson”), Ms.  Gladney, a transgender woman, was sexually assaulted by a man in federal custody. Ms. Gladney filed a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging that the United States acted negligently by failing to take reasonable steps to protect her, or to provide for supervision or video monitoring, thereby allowing the assault at USP-Tucson to occur.  The United States also ignored the sexual assault prevention standards promulgated under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (“PREA”), which recognize that transgender individuals like Ms. Gladney are at heightened risk of sexual assault and are binding on the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

In dismissing her lawsuit, the district court held that the “discretionary function exemption” to the FTCA applied. Our brief explains that the Government has statutory, regulatory, and constitutional obligations to protect individuals in federal custody from sexual assault and that by applying the discretionary function exception here, it would threaten the safety of all vulnerable populations in federal custody.

Amici curiae are civil rights and non-profit organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Arizona, Black and Pink, Center for Constitutional Rights, Family Equality, Freedom Overground, GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders, Human Rights Campaign, Just Detention International, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., Modern Military Association of America, National Center for Lesbian Rights,  Southern Poverty Law Center, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Whitman-Walker Institute.

    • August 2017: Case is filed by Ms. Gladney
    • October 2019: District Court granted the Government’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction and Motion for Summary Judgment.
    • December 2019: Appeal filed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
    • October 2020: Lambda Legal files an Amicus Brief in the case.