United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Patsha Ramsey brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
and state law against St. Charles County (“the
County”) and Larry Crawford (“Crawford”),
Director of the St. Charles County Jail (“the
Jail”), in his individual and official capacities,
arising from her treatment while a pretrial detainee in the
custody of the St. Charles County Jail. Plaintiff alleges
Defendants subjected her to excessive force amounting to
cruel and unusual punishment, and deprived her of necessary
medical care. Plaintiff further alleges Defendants were
negligent under Missouri state law in their failure to keep
her safe and free from harm during her detention. This matter
is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgment on Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Doc. No.
39). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
For the following reasons, Defendants' motion will be
granted in part and denied in part.
was a pretrial detainee confined at the Jail between December
2012 and September 2013. In December 2012, while a patient at
CenterPointe Psychiatric Hospital in St. Charles, Missouri,
Plaintiff was involved in an altercation with a nurse. She
was arrested at the hospital, transferred to the Jail, and
charged with felony assault. Soon thereafter, Plaintiff
attempted suicide and was transferred to a suicide prevention
housing unit at the Jail, where she remained for the duration
of her detention.
contends correctional officers at the Jail labeled her a
“problem inmate, ” and used this as a pretext to
inflict abusive and cruel punishment on her, which included
taking her clothing without cause and forcing her to be in
her cell naked; denying her food as a punishment for bad
behavior; and physically assaulting her, including the
unnecessary use of pepper spray. She claims she was
handcuffed to a table for extended periods of time wearing
nothing but a “suicide smock, ” and that on
several occasions she was tied to a “restraint
chair” while naked. During these periods, Plaintiff
alleges she was subjected to humiliation, degradation and
physical assaults from correctional officers and other
inmates. In addition, Plaintiff claims she received no
medical treatment for her known mental health condition
during her detention.
Crawford is the highest ranking official at the Jail and the
person ultimately responsible for setting and overseeing Jail
policies, procedures and daily operations. The St. Charles
County Department of Corrections (“SCCDOC”) has
Department-wide policies concerning the use of force,
restraints, and pepper spray. In instances requiring the use
of force, it is SCCDOC's policy to ensure that Department
personnel “use only that force necessary to effect
lawful objectives, ” i.e., “lawful restraint,
apprehension, detention or in defense of the Officer or of
another human being” (Doc. No. 39-2). SCCDOC prohibits
the use of restraining devices or methods as a form of
punishment or “for more time that is absolutely
necessary” (Doc. No. 39-3). It is also SCCDOC policy
that oleoresin capsicum spray (more commonly referred to as
OC spray or pepper spray) is to be deployed exclusively as a
control agent for inmates who pose a serious physical threat
to staff or other inmates, inmates who pose a serious threat
to the safe, secure and orderly operation of the facility, or
as a tactical agent in quelling a fight, disturbance or riot
situation. Training is required before any SCCDOC staff may
carry and use OC spray. (Doc. No. 39-4).
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issue of material
fact exists in the case and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The initial burden
is placed on the moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
v. Associated Elec. Co-op., Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273 (8th
Cir. 1988). If the record demonstrates that no genuine issue
of fact is in dispute, the burden then shifts to the
non-moving party, who must set forth affirmative evidence and
specific facts showing a genuine dispute on that issue.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). In determining whether summary judgment is
appropriate in a particular case, the court must review the
facts in a light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion and give that party the benefit of any inferences that
logically can be drawn from those facts. Buller v.
Buechler, 706 F.2d 844, 846 (8th Cir. 1983). The court
is required to resolve all conflicts of evidence in favor of
the nonmoving party. Robert Johnson Grain Co. v. Chem.
Interchange Co., 541 F.2d 207, 210 (8th Cir. 1976).
§ 1983 Claims
Excessive force-cruel and unusual punishment
alleges Defendants subjected her to unreasonable and
excessive force and cruel and unusual punishment, including
the use of unnecessary and unlawful restraints and the
unnecessary use of pepper spray. (First Amended Complaint
(“FAC”), Doc. No. 6 at ¶¶ 34, 35). The
Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects
pretrial detainees from “the use of excessive force
that amounts to punishment.” Graham v. Connor,
490 U.S. 386, 395 n. 10 (1989) (citing Bell v.
Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535-39 (1979)); see also
Edwards v. Byrd, 750 F.3d 728, 732 n. 2 (8th Cir. 2014)
(pretrial detainee's right to be free from excessive
force is founded on the Due Process Clause and, unlike the
Eighth Amendment, the Clause prohibits any punishment of a
pretrial detainee, whether cruel-and-unusual or not). Thus, a
court must decide whether force was applied in a good-faith
effort to maintain or restore discipline, or “to
injure, punish or discipline” the detainee.
Id. at 732 (quoting Putman v. Gerloff, 639
F.2d 415, 421 (8th Cir. 1981)). An official's use of
force does not amount to punishment in the constitutional
sense if it is “but an incident of some other
legitimate governmental purpose.” Bell, 441
U.S. at 535, 538 (providing an analogous rule in the context
of a conditions-of-confinement challenge brought by pretrial
detainees). Moreover, conduct that is merely negligent or
grossly negligent does not implicate the protections of the
Due Process Clause. See, e.g., Daniels v. Williams,
474 U.S. 327, 328 (1986); Clemmons v. Armontrout,
477 F.3d 962, 966 (8th Cir. 2007); Wilson v. Lawrence
Cnty., 260 F.3d 946, 955 (8th Cir. 2001).
deciding whether the force used against a pretrial detainee
is “excessive, ” “a pretrial detainee must
show only that the force purposely or knowingly used against
him was objectively unreasonable.” Kingsley v.
Hendrickson, 135 S.Ct. 2466, 2472-73 (2015).
“[O]bjective reasonableness turns on the ‘facts
and circumstances of each particular case.'”
Id. Factors relevant to assessing the objective
reasonableness of force used include: “the relationship
between the need for the use of force and the amount of force
used; the extent of the plaintiff's injury; any effort
made by the officer to temper or to limit the amount of
force; the severity of the security problem at issue; the
threat reasonably perceived by the officer; and whether the
plaintiff was actively resisting.” Id. (citing
Graham, 490 U.S. at 396). In accordance with
Kingsley, the Court makes the reasonableness
determination from the perspective of a reasonable officer on
the scene; accounts for the legitimate interests that stem
from the need to manage the facility; and gives deference to
SCCDOC policy which allows the use of restraints
“to prevent self-injury or injury to others.”
Id. at 2473.
County and Crawford in his official capacity
§ 1983 action, a local government may be held liable
only if the plaintiff identifies a particular policy, custom,
or practice that resulted in the alleged constitutional
violations.Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Serv.,
436 U.S. 658, 690-91 (1978); City of Canton, Ohio v.
Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388-89 (1989); Ware v. Jackson
Cnty., Mo., 150 F.3d 873, 880 (8th Cir. 1998).
Defendants argue that summary judgment is appropriate because
there is no evidence of a facially unconstitutional policy,
or a causal connection between a policy and Plaintiff's
alleged constitutional violations, citing Monell.
According to Plaintiff's own expert, the SCCDOC policies
regarding use of force, restraints, and pepper spray appear
to be constitutional, as they comply with correctional
industry standards. (Deposition of Dr. Thomas Shull
(“Shull Depo.”), Doc. No. 39-5 at 18:8-13;
19:12-25; Doc. No. 44-13 at 33:18-34:2; 46:24-47:13).
Plaintiff responds that the existence of written policies
does not relieve a defendant of liability when it has a
custom of ignoring those policies, citing Ware, 150
F.3d at 882, and that in this case, Defendants had a custom
of depriving her of her constitutional rights through
excessive force and cruel and unusual punishment (Doc. No. 45
separate occasions during her detention, Plaintiff was
restrained to a dayroom table in her housing unit by a chain
approximately three feet in length, secured either to her
wrist or ankle. Crawford testified that because Plaintiff was
frequently confined to her cell for disciplinary reasons, he
consulted with medical staff and the Assistant Director about
restraining her to the dayroom table to get her out of her
cell (Deposition of Larry Crawford (“Crawford
Depo.”), Doc. No. 39-6 at 92:18-93:11; 96:3-10;
98:7-17). Crawford acknowledged the practice was
“unusual” and not “within [their] normal
procedures” (Crawford Depo., Doc. No. 44-3 at 104:1-8;
105:12-13), but considered it acceptable because they
routinely restrain inmates to a bench or chair while awaiting
booking or to see medical (id. at 95:21 to 98:4;
April 19, 2013 directive to Jail staff, issued by Assistant
Director Vaughn, states:
Because of Inmate Patsy [sic] Ramsey's continuous
self-harm and until further notice, she (Ramsey) is to be out
of her cell on the first and second shifts and restrained to
the table in the dayroom. Staff with back up is expected to
allow her (Ramsey) to utilize the restroom on an hourly basis
or as needed.
Because Inmate Ramsey is still classified as
“constant”, during the night shift, she (Inmate
Ramsey) will remain in the dayroom secured to the table but
will be allowed to sleep on a portable bunk. Her use of ...