That means plaintiff Dion Starr can go forward with his Section 1983 lawsuit and sue Sheriff Baca personally for injuries sustained while in custody at Men's Central Jail.
Starr alleges that a guard opened his cell door to allow other inmates to come in and stab him 23 times. Then a guard kicked him as he lay bleeding while another guard used racial slurs against him and yet other guards stood by and watched.
Starr is suing Baca in addition to the individual guards who abused him on the theory that Baca ran the jail, was on notice of the significant inmate and guard related violence plaguing the jail yet failed to put an end to it.
The nature and scope of this kind of Section 1983 supervisory liability has been in doubt since the Supreme Court's 2009 Iqbal decision. But though questions remain, it appears in light of Starr v. Baca that in California in a "condition of confinement" case a plaintiff can state a claim for Section 1983 supervisory liability on the basis of deliberate indifference.
Starr's complaint details a host of specific examples going back years that show Baca knew or should have known about MCJ's problems yet failed to address them…inaction that in Starr's opinion led to his injuries.
The Ninth Circuit held (over a dissent): "We therefore conclude that where the applicable constitutional standard is deliberate indifference a plaintiff may state a claim for supervisory liability based upon the supervisor's knowledge of and acquiescence in unconstitutional conduct by others."