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King v. Lombardi

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

August 2, 2019

TONY RAY KING, Plaintiff,
GEORGE LOMBARDI, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on defendants Dave Dormire, Terry Russell, Troy Steele, and Dale Phillips's motion for summary judgment. Also before the Court is defendant Terry Taylor's motion for summary judgment.[1] Plaintiff filed memoranda opposing the motions, to which defendants replied. The motions are fully briefed and ripe for review. For the following reasons, the Court grants defendants' motions for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Tony Ray King is a prisoner residing at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center (“ERDCC”) in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Plaintiff murdered his young son, and while awaiting sentencing, he murdered his cellmate. In his First Amended Complaint, plaintiff brings claims against Dave Dormire, the Director of Adult Institutions for the Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”); Dale Phillips, a Functional Unit Manager at ERDCC, Terry Russell, warden of ERDCC until February or March 2015; Troy Steele, warden at ERDCC since February or March 2015; and Terry Taylor, a nurse for Corizon, LLC, who worked at ERDCC. All defendants are sued in their individual and official capacities.

         Plaintiff alleges that he was held in administrative segregation at ERDCC for 923 consecutive days, from November 5, 2013 to May 16, 2016, the majority of which, from November 5, 2013 until December 30, 2015, he was in single-cell confinement. During his time in administrative confinement, he alleges that he was deprived of privileges allowed to prisoners in the general population, such as attending religious services, recreational opportunities, canteen access, contact visits, and he was allowed only one fifteen-minute phone call per month. Plaintiff also alleges that he was denied adequate hygiene supplies and medical supplies for his dry, cracked, and bleeding skin and for a ringworm rash. He further alleges that he experienced a worsening of his anxiety disorder as a result of being held in prolonged administrative segregation.

         Plaintiff brings two counts in his First Amended Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1) deprivation of due process rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, against defendants Dormire, Russell, and Steele (Count I); and (2) deprivation of the constitutional right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, against defendants Phillips and Taylor (Count II). For relief, plaintiff seeks a declaration that defendants violated his constitutional rights, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.

         In response to the First Amended Complaint, defendants Dormire, Russell, Steele, and Phillips filed motions to dismiss, which were denied. After conducting discovery, defendants Dormire, Russell, Steele, and Phillips now move for summary judgment on two grounds. Defendants Dormire, Russell, and Steele argue that in light of the fact plaintiff murdered his cellmate, it was reasonable and lawful to house him in single-cell administrative segregation. They argue he received constitutional due process during his assignment in administrative segregation. Defendant Phillips argues the deprivation of skin lotion does not amount to constitutionally prohibited cruel and unusual punishment. Defendants Dormire, Russell, Steele and Phillips also argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Defendant Taylor also moves for summary judgment arguing that plaintiff's dry skin was not a serious medical condition. Defendant Taylor further argues that he did not disregard any medical condition, and to the extent he delayed in treating plaintiff's ringworm, it had no detrimental effect.[2]

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment shall be entered “if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court is required to view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts. AgriStor Leasing v. Farrow, 826 F.2d 732, 734 (8th Cir. 1987). The moving party bears the initial burden of showing both the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and entitlement to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

         Once the moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party may not rest on the allegations of his pleadings but must set forth specific facts, by affidavit or other evidence, showing that a genuine issue of material fact exists. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 257; Heisler v. Metropolitan Council, 339 F.3d 622, 626 (8th Cir. 2003). Rule 56(c) “mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).

         III. Facts

         After reviewing the record, and with the summary judgment standard in mind, the Court accepts the following facts as true for purposes of resolving defendants' motions for summary judgment:

         A. Administrative Segregation

         On May 2, 2013, plaintiff was convicted of murdering his seven-year-old son by manual strangulation. While awaiting sentencing for the murder of his son, plaintiff was confined with another cell-mate in the Buchanan County Jail. On June 11, 2013, while confined in the Buchanan County Jail, plaintiff murdered his cellmate, also by manual strangulation.

         On September 17, 2013, plaintiff was transferred to ERDCC. On an initial classification form dated the same day, it was noted the ERDCC Classification Committee recommended that plaintiff was to be assigned to the general population at ERDCC - a recommendation that was approved. Doc. 64, Ex. 9 at 1.

         Plaintiff entered a guilty plea for the murder of his cellmate on September 26, 2013. He was transferred back to Buchanan County sometime thereafter for sentencing. Upon his return to ERDCC on November 4, 2013, plaintiff was placed in single-cell administrative segregation “pending review by mental health staff.” Doc. 62, Ex. D. It was noted on a Temporary Administration Segregation Confinement Form dated November 4, 2013, that plaintiff was “an immediate security risk” and, therefore, “[t]here is an urgent need to separate the offender from others for his/her own safety or that of others” and “[f]or the security and good order of the institution.” Id.

         On November 6, 2013, a prison psychiatrist, Dr. Anna Irving, M.D., conducted an examination of plaintiff and determined that he was not, at that time, mentally disabled or hostile. On November 13, 2013, following a hearing at which plaintiff was present, the Classification Committee at ERDCC recommended that plaintiff remain in single-cell confinement in the prison's administrative segregation unit, “pending review by mental health staff - special security concerns.” Doc. 62, Ex. H. Plaintiff refused to sign the Classification Hearing Form. Doc. 64, Ex. 9 at 2.

         While an inmate in administrative segregation, plaintiff was monitored by the mental health staff at ERDCC at least every ninety (90) days. On November 25, 2013, plaintiff was assessed by Diane Kearns, LPC, the Institutional Chief of Mental Health Services.[3] In an email dated November 25, 2013, to defendant Russell, and a number of others, Ms. Kearns wrote that “the mental health treatment team recommends that Offender King remained [sic] single cell, based on his history of violent behaviors, to ensure safety and security at ERDCC.” Doc. 62, Ex. I. Ms. Kearns wrote, “Although Offender King currently presents as stable, he has a history of impulsive behavior and mood swings. In addition, he has reportedly made statements to staff since his arrival at this facility that he has killed more than once and that he is not finished killing yet.”[4] Id.

         The next classification hearing was held on December 11, 2013, at which plaintiff was present. On the Classification Hearing Form dated the same day, it was written that plaintiff was “currently being reviewed for long term single man cell placement at request of mental health staff.” Doc. 61, Ex. 9 at 3.

         On January 21, 2014, Dwayne Kempker, the Deputy Division Director for the Missouri Division of Adult Institutions, approved long-term single-cell status for plaintiff. Mr. Kempker wrote in an email to Chrystal Schmitz, Central Transfer Authority Manager for MDOC, “Per the Buchanan County event, I do approve a single cell status until further notice. He was charged with murdering his cellmate there. . . . I do order his single cell status. He may remain at ERDCC unless other necessitating factors arise.” Doc. 62, Ex. K.

         On March 5, 2014, the ERDCC Classification Committee held a 90-day classification review hearing, at which plaintiff was present. Plaintiff declined to make a statement at the hearing. The Classification Hearing Form for the March 5, 2014 hearing includes a notation that plaintiff was in “single cell status approved - long term, continuously reviewed by mental health staff.” Doc. 64, Ex. 9 at 4.

         On March 7, 2014, plaintiff submitted an Informal Resolution Request (“IRR”) challenging his assignment to administrative segregation. On March 27, 2014, the staff at ERDCC denied the IRR and informed plaintiff as follows: “Your mandated single cell assignment is for safety and security concerns and was approved by a Deputy Director of Adult Institutions of the Department of Corrections. This decision will be re-evaluated occasionally. A recommendation will be made and submitted at the time of review.” Doc. 62, Ex. M.

         On May 27, 2014, the Classification Committee at ERDCC held a 90-day classification review hearing, a which plaintiff was present. Doc. 64, Ex. 9 at 5. Plaintiff declined to make a statement. The Classification Hearing Form dated that day noted that plaintiff should continue to remain in single-cell status and be monitored by mental health staff. Id.

         After his IRR was denied, plaintiff submitted an Offender Grievance on March 25, 2014, and a Grievance Appeal on May 12, 2014, both of which were denied. On June 5, 2014, Alan Butterworth, Functional Unit Manager at ERDCC, wrote to a letter to plaintiff in response to correspondence plaintiff sent to defendant Russell. Mr. Butterworth wrote: “You have been assigned to single cell status at the approval of the Deputy Division Director, with a review date in approx. one year. This recommendation is based on the totality of your circumstances, as well as evaluations from medical, mental health, and classification staff.” Doc. 62, Ex. O.

         On June 23, 2014, Dwayne Kempker, Deputy Division Director, wrote an appeal response in which he informed plaintiff:

Your single cell status was initiated due to your murder of your cellmate at Buchanan County Jail. Even though the event in question occurred outside of the Department, it is the responsibility of the Department to ensure the safety of the offenders housed within, which includes separating those offenders who can be considered a potential risk to other offenders. Your single cell status will be periodically reevaluated, to determine if it needs to be continued.

Doc. 62, Ex. P. Mr. Kempker denied plaintiff's request that he be placed in the general population.

         The next classification review hearing was held on August 20, 2014, at which plaintiff declined to participate. Doc. 62, Ex. Q at 1. The Classification Hearing Form dated that day noted “single cell status of [sic] approved from Div. Director for continued mental health observation.” Id.

         A classification review hearing was held on November 10, 2014, at which plaintiff was present. Plaintiff told the committee that he “want[ed] out!” Doc. 62, Ex. Q at 2. At this hearing, the Administrative Segregation Committee recommended continued placement in administrative segregation. The Classification Hearing Form for the November 10, 2014 hearing states, “single cell mandated per director.” Id.

         On November 12, 2014, ERDCC Corrections Case Manager Diane Montgomery submitted a memorandum to defendant Russell in connection with the one-year review of plaintiff's placement in single-cell administrative segregation. In her November 12, 2014 memorandum, Montgomery wrote:

Offender King is a 30 year old male who initially arrived within the MoDoc 07/16/2013 to serve a life sentence for Murder 1st Degree. He also has convictions for Murder 2nd degree, Arson, and Abuse of a Child. File material indicates he caused the death of his 7 year old son by means of manual strangulation and then setting fire to the trailer they resided in. While incarcerated in the Buchanan County jail, King killed his cell mate, stating he did so in order to compare the two autopsy reports, proving his innocence in the murder of his son. He was assigned to Administrative Segregation Single Cell on 10/13/2013 per mental health request due to his history of violence. [H]e has remained on single cell status in the ERDCC adseg unit since assignment.
King has an education score of 1 a vocational score of 3 and a mental health score of 3. A qualified Mental Health Professional has evaluated his mental health status and indicates that continued segregation is not contraindicated at this time.
Since arrival in the MoDOC, King has incurred no conduct violations and has exhibited acceptable institutional adjustment. It is suggested he be released from single cell status in order to re-integrate him to two man cell in ...

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