Wilkinson Stekloff Wins Qualified Immunity Appeal in the Eleventh Circuit

Washington, D.C. – Wilkinson Stekloff associate Xiao Wang secured another significant pro bono appellate win in the Eleventh Circuit, representing Joshua Dickinson, an individual who was violently assaulted while detained in an Alabama jail following an argument with a family member. The Eleventh Circuit concluded that Mr. Dickinson could continue his lawsuit to vindicate his civil rights.

Xiao, along with supervising partner Jeremy Barber, argued on appeal that the district court had correctly allowed Mr. Dickinson’s suit to proceed. Wilkinson Stekloff’s briefing highlighted the unjust and unsafe conditions of the Mobile County Metro Jail, including the information and multiple warnings the County Sheriff and Jail Warden had received prior to the unfortunate event.  The Eleventh Circuit agreed that the Sheriff and Warden were not entitled to qualified immunity, deciding to interpret narrowly a prior opinion that had applied an expansive reading to qualified immunity.  

“The jail failed to address multiple warnings from the Department of Justice and the National Institute for Jail Operations, which created the conditions that resulted in the assault against Mr. Dickinson,” said Wilkinson Stekloff associate Xiao Wang. “I am pleased that the court agreed with our reasoning, and is allowing our client to continue to pursue justice.” 

Wilkinson Stekloff handled the case in partnership with Rights Behind Bars, an advocacy organization for incarcerated individuals which has filed amicus and merits briefs in numerous federal courts, including the Fifth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The organization recently achieved a monumental victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Taylor v. Riojas, another qualified immunity case.  

Wilkinson Stekloff has had a string of successful pro bono wins this year.  In addition to this significant victory, the firm also secured the early release from prison of two different pro bono clients, each of whom had been incarcerated for more than 25 years. In October, the firm joined forces with two nonprofit advocacy groups to win a landmark $50 million settlement in which the Missouri Department of Corrections and its prison health care provider agreed to give inmates suffering from hepatitis C much-needed treatment.  And Wilkinson Stekloff was selected as Highly Commended in the Pro Bono Program of the Year Category at the Chambers and Partners annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards: North America 2020.

Founded in February 2016, Wilkinson Stekloff has grown to nearly 40 lawyers and has quickly established itself as the leading trial boutique firm in the country. The firm has tried over a dozen cases to verdict across the country, winning the vast majority, and has won several other pre-trial victories in bet-the-company cases.