James Dimora, 61, was a Cuyahoga County, Ohio commissioner when he was indicted on federal racketeering and corruption charges in April 2012. While awaiting trial at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, operated by Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic), Dimora was involved in a slip and fall accident and suffered injuries. He sued CCA, the facility and the federal Bureau of Prisons for negligence, premises liability and emotional distress.

During the pendency of the litigation, Dimora was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

The Northeast Ohio Correctional Center and the Bureau of Prisons were dismissed from Dimora’s lawsuit, and CCA moved for summary judgment. The company argued that Dimora had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, that the water he slipped on was “open and obvious,” and that their actions were not extreme or outrageous.

The federal district court made short work of the argument that the case should be dismissed because Dimora did not exhaust his administrative remedies. There was a major flaw with CCA’s position: they had neglected to plead failure of exhaustion as a defense to the suit, so the court did not consider it.

The district court also ruled against CCA on its argument that the water Dimora slipped on was an “open and obvious” condition. Because the motion was for summary judgment, such a fact-specific question could not be decided by the court, and the negligence claim was allowed to go forward to trial.

The district court did, however, dismiss Dimora’s emotional distress claim. He failed to provide any evidence that CCA or its employees had acted in an “extreme and outrageous” manner, or that he suffered a “severe and debilitating injury” – prerequisites to a claim for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Following the court’s summary judgment order, the case settled in April 2016 under confidential terms.

See: Dimora v. Northeast Ohio Corrections Center, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ohio), Case No. 4:14-cv-01221.

Additional sources: www.cleveland.com, www.news-herald.com

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).