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Mick v. Raines

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division

February 23, 2017

WES RAINES, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff has sued, among others, three officers working for the Daviess/DeKalb County Regional Jail (“the Regional Jail”), alleging violations of his civil rights. The three officers[1] have collectively filed a motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 126), and (at the Court's direction) a supplemental motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 142.) Both motions are GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         None of the three Defendants is named in his individual capacity; thus, they are all deemed to be sued in their official capacities only. See Baker v. Chisom, 501 F.3d 920, 923 (8th Cir. 2007). Plaintiff concedes this point: he does not dispute that he has not sued the named defendants individually and he characterizes his claims as “official-capacity claims.” (E.g., Doc. Doc. 136, pp. 4, 10.) “[T]he real party in interest in an official-capacity suit is the governmental entity and not the named official.” Baker, 501 F.3d at 925 (quotations omitted). Therefore, the actual defendant is the Regional Jail.[2]

         Except in one context, the Regional Jail does not contend that it is entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff's civil rights were not violated. Instead, the Regional Jail primarily contends it is entitled to summary judgment because the Record establishes that the additional requirements for imposing liability on a municipality for its employees' constitutional violations are not present. In light of the issues raised and the manner in which they have been discussed, [3]an understanding of the Record (both what it reveals and what it does not) is more important than the legal analysis. Therefore, in discussing the facts the Court will address the parties' competing views as to what is (and is not) contained in the Record. In doing so, the Court will focus on the facts related to the Regional Jail; matters related to other Defendants will be discussed only as necessary.

         A. Plaintiff's Allegations

         On February 24, 2012, deputies from Clinton County arrested Plaintiff and took him to the Clinton County Jail. Plaintiff alleges he was beaten by approximately five law enforcement officers and that he “believes” that at least one officer from the Regional Jail (who was there to transport Plaintiff to the Regional Jail) was among the assailants. (Doc. 80, ¶¶ 22-23.) “The injuries were so severe, that Plaintiff's arm was broken during the attack. Plaintiff screamed for help because the Jailers were attempting to remove a ring from his finger that he did not want to release.” (Doc. 80, ¶ 25.)

         Plaintiff was transferred to the Regional Jail later that same evening, arriving at approximately 2:36 a.m. (Doc. 80, ¶ 44.) Plaintiff “was thrown on the cement floor on his left shoulder by one of the named Deputies from the Regional Jail.” (Doc. 80, ¶ 26.) He then complained of pain in his left shoulder. The Second Amended Complaint also alleges that he was sprayed with mace, (Doc. 80, ¶ 26), but in his deposition he admitted that he was not sprayed with mace by anyone at the Regional Jail. (Doc. 163-1.)

         Lieutenant Lacy “instructed the officers to contact the ‘on call doctor', Defendant Dr. Glynn.” (Doc. 80, ¶ 45.) Dr. Glynn “instructed the officer that ‘as long as there were no protruding bones or bleeding, that he could wait to be seen by Nurse Gaunt on Monday.” (Doc. 80, ¶ 45.)[4] Dr. Glynn's instructions notwithstanding, Plaintiff was taken to Cameron Hospital, and later in the day he was released from custody. (Doc. 80, ¶¶ 27-28, 48.)

         The Second Amended Complaint asserts the following claims against the Regional Jail:[5]

• Count I - Excessive Force. Count I is asserted against the Regional Jail for the incidents at both the Clinton County Jail and the Regional Jail.
• Count III - Failure to Intervene. This claim asserts that the Regional Jail violated the Constitution when some of the officers failed to prevent other officers (both Clinton County Deputies and officers from the Regional Jail) from using excessive force.
• Count IV - Conspiracy. This claim alleges the Regional Jail conspired with Clinton County to violate Plaintiffs constitutional rights.
• Count V - Deliberate Indifference to Substantial and Serious Medical Needs. Count V refers to Officers Woolsey and Keough, Lieutenant Lacy, and Dr. Glynn, but focuses almost exclusively on Dr. Glynn's actions. (Doc. 80, ¶ 79.)[6]

         B. Facts Related to the Regional Jail's Arguments

          The Court's discussion of the Record will be aided by summarizing the law that governs Plaintiffs claims. In order for Plaintiff to prevail, there must first be a violation of the plaintiffs constitutional rights. E.g., McCoy v. City of Monticello, 411 F.3d 920, 922 (8th Cir. 2005). But, even if Plaintiffs' rights were violated by Regional Jail officers, the Regional Jail's liability would not be established by that fact alone because municipalities and similar governmental entities cannot be held liable on a theory of respondeat superior. Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658, 692-95 (1978). “Section 1983 liability for a constitutional violation may attach to a municipality if the violation resulted from (1) an official municipal policy, (2) an unofficial custom, or (3) a deliberately indifferent failure to train or supervise.” Corwin v. City of Independence., MO., 829 F.3d 695, 699 (8th Cir. 2016) (quotations and citations omitted). As will be discussed, Plaintiff's primary argument is that Clinton County maintained unofficial customs that violated the Constitution. To establish a custom, Plaintiff must demonstrate:

1) The existence of a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct by the governmental entity's employees;
2) Deliberate indifference to or tacit authorization of such conduct by the governmental entity's policymaking officials after notice to the officials of that misconduct; and
3) That plaintiff was injured by acts pursuant to the governmental entity's custom, i.e., that the custom was a moving force behind the constitutional violation.

Johnson v. Douglas Cty. Med. Dep't, 725 F.3d 825, 828 (8th Cir. 2013); see also Jane Doe A v. Special Sch. Dist. of St. Louis County, 910 F.2d 642, 646 (8th Cir. 1990). Therefore, the Court's analysis of the Record will address any evidence that (1) there was a widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional conduct and (2) policymakers were deliberately indifferent to any such pattern.

         The Regional Jail contends (and Plaintiff agrees) that during the relevant time period Bob Gray had final policymaking authority for the Regional Jail. Gray is deceased, and the Regional Jail relies on sworn declarations from Edmon Howard, who was Gray's assistant and successor, [7] to discuss its policies and practices in four areas: (1) the proper use of force, (2) deputies' duties to intervene to prevent the use of excessive force, and (3) the provision of medical care for those held at the Regional Jail. Howard also discusses two additional topics: training provided to deputies and agreements reached with Clinton County. The Court's discussion of the Record will be organized around these five areas.

         1. Proper Use of Force

         Howard avers that the Regional Jail has a written policy regarding the use of force, which limits deputies to using only “the amount of force, reasonably necessary, to overcome the resistance offered, subdue an individual detainee or restore order to a disruptive group, and/or accomplish the lawful performance of duty while protecting the officer and the public.” (Doc. 143-1, ¶ 5.) The policy further required that whenever force was used, the officers were to complete a written report, all such reports were to be reviewed by Shift Commanders, and the Jail Administrator was to be notified. (Doc. 143-1, ¶ 8.) The Jail Administrator was to investigate allegations of improper use of force, and impose discipline if improper force was utilized. (Doc. 143-1, ¶¶ 9-12.) Under this policy, there were officers who were disciplined for improper use of force. (Doc. 143-1, ¶¶ 13-15.)

         Plaintiff does not dispute that these policies exist. Instead, he attempts to create a factual dispute by contending that the policies are not actually followed; however, his effort to do so fails for a variety of reasons.

         Plaintiff relies extensively on affidavits submitted by Troy Thompson, Michael Stewart, and Steven Turner, [8] all of whom have been incarcerated at the Regional Jail. He characterizes the affidavits as establishing very broad propositions about the practices at the Regional Jail, but the affidavits do not support the ...

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