Rochon v. City of Angola, Louisiana, et al.
The plaintiff, a prison inmate, complained that prison smoking policies regularly caused him to suffer exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in violation of his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. A lower court found in favor of the plaintiff but dismissed the charge as against several of the defendants based on an interpretation of official immunities. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit considered that granting such immunities was not permissible where the conditions complained of violated contemporary standards of decency. After concluding that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke created a risk so grave that no individual should be unwillingly exposed to it, the Court affirmed the lower court's decision in favor of the plaintiff. The Court also reversed the lower court's dismissal of the claim as against the particular defendants and returned the case to the lower court for further proceedings.