The Alaska Supreme Court says a former prison inmate can move forward with a lawsuit claiming corrections officers failed to protect him from another inmate.

The justices said in an opinion Friday that the state has a duty to protect inmates in its custody.

The Anchorage Daily News says Richard Mattox was seriously injured by another prisoner in 2007. He said he warned officers of trouble with inmates in his prison block.

Mattox sued the state for negligence, but Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White threw the case out in 2011. The judge said Mattox didn't show that the corrections department had been given notice of a specific threat against him.

The high court said that bar is too high.

State lawyers say they're disappointed with the decision.