Court Tosses Lawsuit By Escapee Who Claimed Gov’t Negligently Allowed Him To Break Out

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Jose Banks
Jose Banks

An inmate who previously escaped from a detention facility in Chicago filed a lawsuit against the government demanding ten million dollars in damages resulting from his escape caper failed to convince the Seventh Circuit of his claim’s merit, but the court at least acknowledged his lawsuit “gets credit for chutzpah.”

The jailbreak occurred in 2012 when plaintiff Jose Banks and a cellmate rappelled down seventeen stories down a high-rise corrections center using a rope constructed of sheets and dental floss. He managed to hail a cab and evade law enforcement for several days before recapture.

Banks claimed among other things that he suffered emotional injury from the trauma of fearing for his life as he dangled from the makeshift rope used in his escape.


Surprisingly, officials dropped the escape charges after claiming that he was already sentenced to a decades long term of incarceration. Banks was originally convicted of Bank Robbery.

Not surprisingly, Banks represented himself in the civil action against the government. He claimed his cellmate coerced him into participation in the breakout which took months to plan. He cited the guards as being negligent for not noticing their effort to chisel a hole through the wall that allowed the two to escape.

He further claimed that he suffered from the jail’s lockdown restrictions instituted as a result of the escape and suffered damage to his reputation, “humiliation and embarrassment” and injury to his “spiritual constitution”.

The Seventh Circuit disagreed, declaring that “no one has a personal right to be better guarded or more securely restrained, so as to be unable to commit a crime.”

By Darren Smith



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14 thoughts on “Court Tosses Lawsuit By Escapee Who Claimed Gov’t Negligently Allowed Him To Break Out”

  1. How much taxpayer money did this waste? How much time in the court system? This also illustrates the need for reform.

  2. Banks is the ultimate representative of those who blame others for their own mistakes.

  3. The guy has a sense of humor or is completely delusional. Either way it will be easier to spend the rest of his life in jail that way rather than being sane and serious.

  4. A rope constructed of sheets and dental floss? Didn’t realize prisoners were so meticulous about their dental hygiene and avoiding periodontal disease. No red flags went up when copious amounts of floss were being purchased? That’s a whole lotta floss goin’ on.

  5. This guy ate salmon with genetic defect and hence when he went down the rope his mind wandered and he thought he was in China.

  6. Too bad he was not in the 9th Circuit. He would have proceeded to trial and won in CA.

  7. Rosieoboxer, if the proper forms are filed, the court has to file the Complaint. Generally in the federal courts, there is an initial screening after the Complaint is filed where it is filed by an unrepresented prisoner. That is what happened here,. In that initial screening, the District Court determined the action lacked merit and dismissed it. The Plaintiff appealed, and the referenced decision is the one made by the appeals court upholding the District Court dismissal.

  8. Darren….Legendary escape artist Arthur St. Peter gave the “Take a Lifer to Dinner” program a bad name when took off.
    He took off from the pen in Walla Walla, then killed a pawnbroker in Tacoma during a holdup attempt.
    (I think St.Peter himself was shot about 10 times in the gun battle with the pawnbroker and his wife).
    Not long after that, he and a couple of fellow inmates dug a c.100 foot tunnel and emerged outside of the prison’s walls.
    A tower guard spotted them, so their escape attempt was foiled.
    I think the prison officials in Walla Walla finally got tired of St. Peter, and eventually shipped him out of state.
    As far as I know, St. Peter never sued prison for “letting him” escape. If anything, he appreciated the opportunities.

  9. I was going to ask what attorney was dumb enough to take this case, but the question was answered as I read thru the article… What’s that adage, you know, the one that says something like “A man who chooses to represent himself in court has a fool for a client?” Seems there couldn’t be a better example than this… My other question, since I know nothing about how the courts work, is how does a case as ridiculous as this even get on the docket?… Are the courts obligated to accept any and all comers?

  10. I’d have awarded him are least $1 for balls, and another for the chutzpah. 17 floors….on sheets and dental floss? I’ve rappelled down that distance but on sturdy ropes designed for it, with and without rappelling gear (doing it with just a rope and a wrap is more butt pinching)….doing as this guy did is nuts.

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