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Appeals Court rules "excessively-tight handcuffing" case will go to jury

In Baynes v. Cleland, the Sixth Circuit overturned an Eastern District of Michigan federal judge's summary disposition of the plaintiff's civil rights claim.  Baynes, who was diagnosed with "bilateral radial sensory neuropathy from handcuffs" sued the arresting officers, claiming that they purposely cuffed him too tightly and ignored his complaints.  The trial judge had dismissed Baynes' lawsuit, holding that the officers were immune from any liability for a breach of the Fourth Amendment's "reasonable search and seizure" claim.

The higher court reversed, holding that precedent has consistently provided that "freedom from excessively forceful or unduly tight handcuffing is a clearly established right."  Deputies are not held accountable when their alleged civil rights violation has not been clearly established by prior rulings.  In this case, however, there was ample documentation of a prisoner's right to be appropriately handcuffed well before the alleged violation.

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