MADISON, WI—On January 11, 2021 the United States Supreme Court filed an order rejecting Defendant Polk County’s Petition for Review in J.K.J., et. al v. Polk County. This final denial means the Supreme Court will not hear Polk County’s appeal of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’, en banc decision, bringing to an end years of litigation over the sexual assault of two Polk County inmates and Polk County’s liability arising from these assaults.
This case was originally tried to jury in 2017 in the Western District of Wisconsin. The jury awarded two Eckberg Lammers’ clients a total of $11.5 million in damages after finding Polk County and its former jailer, Darryl L. Christensen, violated their rights under the United States Constitution when Christensen sexually assaulted them as inmates at the Polk County Jail. Polk County and Darryl Christensen appealed the jury verdict. In May of 2020, the Seventh Circuit in an en banc panel, upheld the verdict against Polk County, finding it knew of the risk of sexual assault to its inmates and in the face of that knowledge, did nothing. The Seventh Circuit noted: “And with red lights flashing, Polk County chose the one unavailable option [to prevent sexual assault to its inmates] – doing nothing.” After its unsuccessful appeal, Polk County petitioned for review by the United States Supreme Court, resulting in today’s decision.