Court sides with state in Nebraska prison riot lawsuit

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday sided with state prison officials in a lawsuit brought by an inmate who alleged that a 2015 riot worsened his health conditions.

The court upheld a lower court’s ruling against inmate John Wizinsky, who sued the state for negligence.

Wizinsky argued at trial that he missed one of his insulin shots for diabetes during the May 2015 riot at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution. He was in protective custody at the time and testified that, during the riot, other inmates shouted threats at him and nearly beat to death another protective custody inmate. He said he was punched in the back of the head when he dragged the bloody inmate away from the attackers.

Wizinsky alleged that the riot worsened his existing health problems, including post traumatic stress disorder, depression, paranoia, anxiety and trouble sleeping.

The case went to trial and a district court judge ruled that state officials weren’t negligent and that Wizinsky had failed to prove he suffered a legal injury because of their actions. The judge also ruled that the state was shielded from the lawsuit by sovereign immunity.