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GOVERNMENT reversing a $175,000 jury verdict for an injured jail detainee and an intermediate appellate court’s opinion, the California Supreme Court held on April 28 that the detainee was a prisoner for purposes of a city’s sovereign immunity. Teter v. City of Newport Beach, No. S106553. Craig Teter was arrested for public intoxication in Newport Beach, Calif. Pursuant to California law, Newport Beach had a policy of releasing inebriated detainees without pressing charges, provided they met certain criteria. Meeting those criteria, Teter was scheduled to be released. But before being released, he was beaten severely by another inmate. Teter sued the city and a jury awarded more than $175,000 in damages. The city appealed, but an intermediate appellate court affirmed. The city then appealed to the California Supreme Court, arguing that Teter was a prisoner, and thus, that the city was entitled to sovereign immunity. Reversing the appellate court and the verdict, the state Supreme Court held that because Teter was in a jail and not a civil detoxification center, he was a prisoner under the law.

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