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The Supreme Court seemed unlikely on Tuesday to allow employees at a privately run federal prison to be sued by an inmate in federal court, despite his complaint that their neglect left him with two permanently damaged arms.

Justices heard appeals from lawyers representing employees of the GEO Group, formerly known as Wackenhut Corrections Corp, who work at the privately run Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, Calif. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled inmate Richard Lee Pollard could sue GEO officials for his treatment after he fell and fractured both of his elbows.

Pollard said GEO officials put him in a metal restraint that caused him pain, and refused to provide him with a splint, making his injuries worse and causing permanent impairment. He sued in federal court for money, claiming GEO officials had violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The federal appeals court allowed his lawsuit against the GEO officials to move forward. Courts normally don't allow government employees to be sued in those types of lawsuits, but the high court has authorized some if constitutionally protected rights have been violated by the federal employee and there is no state court remedy.

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