Tanner v. McMurray, — F.3d —, No. 19-2166 (10th Cir. 2021) (Mar. 2, 2021), Tanner v. McMurray, — F.3d —, Nos. 20-4024, 20-4025 (10th Cir. 2021) (Mar. 2, 2021)
These cases both involved 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims based upon pre-trial inmate deaths while in custody and claims of deliberate indifference involving private contractors working at the jail. In both cases, private contractors asserted qualified immunity. In Tanner, the Tenth Circuit reversed summary judgment for defendants based upon qualified community holding that “[n]either historical justifications of special government immunity nor modern policy considerations support[ed] the extension of a qualified immunity defense to . . . private medical professionals employed full-time by a multi-state, for-profit corporation systemically organized to provide medical care in correctional facilities.” In contrast, the court in Clyde reversed a denial of qualified immunity to a private on-call doctor working at a jail finding that the doctor “was carrying out government responsibilities” and that “policy considerations,” including “protecting against ‘unwarranted timidity on the part of public officials’” and “ensuring ‘that talented candidates are not deterred by the threat of damages suits from entering public service’” justified allowing the doctor to assert qualified immunity.