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Lesley v. Teague

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

March 10, 2017

RICHARD W. LESLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
MS. JANE DOE TEAGUE, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Stoner's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 86]; Defendants Hunter, Mills and Mosley's Motion for Summary Judgment, [Doc. No. 105]; and Thompson and Osterman's Motion for Summary Judgment, [Doc. No. 109]. Plaintiff opposes the Motions and has filed a Motion to Deny Summary Judgment, [Doc. No. 123]. For the reasons set forth below, the Motions for Summary Judgment are granted. Plaintiff's Motion to Deny Summary Judgment is denied.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiff, an inmate in the Missouri Correctional System, brought this Section 1983 action against Defendants claiming that they violated his constitutional rights during an incident wherein Plaintiff was sprayed with pepper spray. The following facts are taken from Defendants' statement of un-controverted facts, Plaintiff's statement of facts, and exhibits in the record.

         Plaintiff was an inmate incarcerated at Moberly Correctional Center (“MCC”) in Moberly, Missouri. Defendant Jeffry Ostermann was a Correctional Officer I at MCC. Defendant Nelson Thompson was a Correctional Officer III at MCC.

         On December 18, 2014, Plaintiff arrived at MCC on transfer from Ozark Correctional Center. During the processing of the Plaintiff into MCC, Plaintiff became very “aggravated, ” “upset, ” and “mad.” Plaintiff became very upset, aggressive, and combative with Correctional Officer Mary Teague in response to her questions regarding his property. Plaintiff yelled obscenities at multiple officers and threw food creating a disturbance and threatening the safety and security of the institution In response to the disturbance created by the Plaintiff, Lieutenant Curtis Still and Defendant Ostermann placed Plaintiff in restraints so that he could be escorted to Housing Unit 2 of MCC, administrative segregation. Defendant Ostermann took control of Plaintiff's left arm and Lt. Still took control of Plaintiff's right arm as they began the escort. As they were leaving the gym area, Plaintiff began to resist the escort and refused to continue walking.

         Officer Ostermann and Lt. Still were then forced to tighten their grips on Plaintiff's arms in order to maintain control of a potentially violent offender and to ensure the escort continued.

         After Lt. Still warned the Plaintiff that pepper spray might be used if he continued to refuse orders to proceed, the Plaintiff continued to walk and no pepper spray was used at that point. During the escort, the Plaintiff orally threatened physical violence to Defendant Ostermann by stating “Ostermann, you mother f*****, I will kick you in the nuts you mother f*****. I get these f****** cuffs off, I'm kicking you in the mother f****** nuts.”

         Due to the Plaintiff's violent outbursts, multiple instances of noncompliance by the Plaintiff, and Plaintiff's threats of physical violence towards Defendant Ostermann, the Officers maintained control over the non-compliant offender by keeping a tight grip on his arms.

         Once the escort reached Housing Unit 2, Defendant Thompson then took over the escort from Defendant Ostermann, and Defendant Ostermann had no further involvement with the Plaintiff and did not witness anything further.

         Defendant Thompson and the fellow officers were informed of the Plaintiff's violent and threatening behavior. Defendant Thompson and Lt. Still then completed the escort by placing the Plaintiff in cell 2D-554. Plaintiff did not request any medical assistance during the escort.

         No medical injuries to Plaintiff's hands, wrists, arms, or shoulders were noted in Plaintiff's medical records and Plaintiff did not file any medical services requests for any injuries to such areas.

         Plaintiff did not file an IRR, grievance or grievance appeal concerning his excessive use of force claim against Defendant Ostermann.

         It is standard policy at MCC for any offender who is placed in a cell in administrative segregation to undergo a strip search to ensure the offender is not concealing any item that is considered contraband that might pose a risk to the safety or security of the inmates, correctional officers or any other individuals at MCC. Plaintiff had been in administrative segregation prior to December 18, 2014 and was familiar with the process requiring him to undergo a strip search after placement in administrative segregation. Plaintiff Lesley understood that in order to perform a strip search, an inmate must remove all of his clothing.

         Once inside the cell, pursuant to policy that is applied to every offender who is placed in administrative segregation, Plaintiff was given direct orders to submit to a strip search and remove all of his clothing.

         Plaintiff began to comply with orders to remove his clothing so that the strip search could take place, but then became argumentative and refused to continue. Defendant Thompson then repeatedly warned Plaintiff that if he continued to refuse orders to remove his clothing so that the strip search could be completed, he would be pepper sprayed in order to obtain compliance.

         Prior to any application of pepper spray, Defendant Thompson obtained oral approval from Nurse Audrey Ford at MCC that pepper spray was authorized for use on Plaintiff.

         After the Plaintiff continued to refuse repeated orders to remove his clothing, a burst of pepper spray was applied to his facial area.

         After allowing the pepper spray to take effect, Defendant Thompson again ordered the Plaintiff to remove the rest of his clothing so that the strip search could be completed. Plaintiff again began to comply with the orders and removed more of his clothing, but then again refused to completely remove the remainder of his clothing. Plaintiff was again warned that he would be pepper sprayed if he continued to refuse to submit to a full strip search; and, after he did refuse, another burst of pepper spray was applied to his facial area by Defendant Thompson.

         After the second burst of pepper spray was allowed to take effect, Plaintiff removed the remainder of his clothing and allowed the full strip search to be conducted. Immediately upon the conclusion of the strip search, Plaintiff was examined and treated by medical staff.

         The outer sides of Plaintiff Lesley's eyes were washed by a medical nurse, but Plaintiff was otherwise non-compliant during the medical assessment and refused any other treatment.

Plaintiff had access to a sink with running water in his cell.
Two days later on December 20, 2014, Plaintiff was moved to a new cell.

         Offenders housed in administrative segregation are offered showers on a set schedule unless medical staff notifies custody staff that a medical need exists for an offender to take a shower outside of the normal schedule. Medical staff did not provide any order for the Plaintiff to be given a shower outside of the normal schedule set for offenders in administrative segregation.

         Plaintiff was offered a shower on December 21, 2014, but he refused the opportunity to shower.

         No burns, welts or blisters were ever observed on Plaintiff. Defendant Stoner assessed Plaintiff at approximately 2:00 PM on December 18, 2014 after pepper agent had been applied by custody staff. During the December 18, 2014 appointment, Plaintiff complained of burning eyes, but denied any difficulty breathing or other injuries. During the December 18, 2014 appointment, Plaintiff refused to open his eyes so that Defendant Stoner could perform further inspection of his complaints. She was able to wash the outer side of Plaintiff's eyes with eye wash, but he refused any other treatment or assessment at that time. Plaintiff admits that his eyes were rinsed by Defendant Stoner. Plaintiff was non-compliant during the December 18, 2014 encounter. Defendant Stoner noted that Plaintiff should flush his eyes with water or saline, and consider a shower with soap and cool water if the exposure area was large; though, Plaintiff did not make any request for a shower during the encounter, nor did he make any statements or requests regarding cleaning his cell.

         Defendant Stoner determined that Plaintiff was not in acute distress during the December 18, 2014 encounter. Defendant Stoner instructed Plaintiff to notify medical immediately if he developed any symptoms or shortness of breath. Defendant Stoner does not recall Plaintiff ever asking her for treatment for burns, welts or blisters, including any cream or ointment. She never observed any burns, welts or blisters on Plaintiff's body. She does not recall Plaintiff requesting a shower or to have his cell cleaned following the use of pepper agent, or any other time.

         The scheduling of showers in segregation and the cleaning of cells is not handled by medical staff as these are custody issues. Defendant Stoner never observed any need for Plaintiff's cell to be cleaned or that he required a shower. ...


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