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The city will not be liable unless it has knowledge of the violent propensities of a fellow prisoner who injures another inmate.
The deceased, Ruel McKinley Humphrey was highly intoxicated about 2:15 a.m., on the morning of November 21, 1966. He was wandering around in the vicinity of Frankfort and Hite Avenues, near his home, when a report was received by Louisville Police Headquarters that he was shaking doors in that neighborhood. The officers proceeded to arrest him and to deliver him to the booking clerk at the city jail at 2:35 a.m. He was retained in the holdover department in the basement of the city jail until 4:15 a.m., when he was taken by elevator to the third floor of the jail. The two guards in charge of the third floor of the jail testified that immediately after the deceased stepped off the elevator on the third floor, he began to fall down or collapse. One of the guards caught him and lightened his fall. Shortly thereafter he was dragged by the two guards to the "drunk tank" and left lying on the floor with his feet toward the entrance of the tank. Two of the jail employees testified that no one else was in the "drunk tank" while the deceased was there. However, a third employee testified that he believed there was another prisoner in the "drunk tank" during that time. At 7:15 a.m. a jail guard attempted to awaken deceased in order that he might appear in court that morning. The guard was unable to arouse him, concluding that Humphrey was in a high state of intoxication. At noon the guard again attempted to arouse him without success. He was then taken to Louisville General Hospital and found to be unconscious with a subdural hematoma from injuries apparently received around the left eye and forehead. He underwent brain surgery and died on December 13, 1966, without ever regaining consciousness. The trial court entered judgment for the plaintiff-appellee widow for injuries.
Was there was probative evidence that an employee of the city inflicted injuries on the deceased, or that a fellow prisoner did so?
There was no direct evidence that any of the prison employees inflicted the injuries on the deceased. Neither is there any direct evidence that those injuries were inflicted by a fellow prisoner. The appellee suggests that the proof in the case warrants the application of res ipsa loquitur. With this theory we cannot agree. Although the evidence and circumstances come pretty close to creating an inference that the deceased received his injuries after his arrest and while he was in the custody of the city's employees, yet they fall short of justifying res ipsa. If we assume his injuries were received after his arrest, we are still left to speculate as to whether the injuries were received at the hands of the city employees or whether they were inflicted by a fellow prisoner. We cannot assume either to be the case. Further, admitting for the purpose of discussion that the deceased was injured by a fellow prisoner, it is still incumbent upon the appellee to prove negligence on the part of the city in permitting those injuries.