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Moyle v. Anderson et al.: US District Court :1983 - deliberate indifference standard applied; summary judgment for defendants in jailhouse death

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Gavin Moyle, by Jessica Repp, his mother
and natural guardian, and Jessica Repp as
trustee for the next-of-kin of Carl Moyle,
deceased,
Plaintiffs,
Civ. No. 07-848 (RHK/RLE)
MEMORANDUM OPINION
AND ORDER
v.
Bruce Anderson, individually and in his
official capacity; Patrick Carr, individually
and in his official capacity; Angela Knutson,
individually and in her official capacity;
Brian Frank, individually and in his official
capacity; Cory Schoeck, individually and in his
official capacity; Heather Pickett, individually
and in her official capacity; and Sherburne County,
Defendants.
Sharon L. Van Dyck, Van Dyck Law Firm PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Richard J.
Nygaard, Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben PA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Plaintiffs.
Jon K. Iverson, Jason M. Hiveley, Iverson Reuvers LLC, Bloomington, Minnesota, for
Defendants.
INTRODUCTION
This action arises out of the murder of Carl Moyle at the Sherburne County Jail on
August 8, 2006. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants failed to provide for Moyles physical
safety as required by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
2
Constitution.1 Defendants now move for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court will grant the Motion.
BACKGROUND
On the morning of August 8, 2006, Moyle was pulled over by the Elk River police
and arrested for the gross misdemeanor of no proof of insurance. (Am. Compl. 13-
15.) Subsequently, Moyle was taken to Sherburne County Jail (Sherburne), where he
was booked and taken to a cell in the Alpha Intake Unit (AIU). (Pickett Dep. Tr. at 24-
26; Jenson Dep. Tr. at 35.) Moyle was to remain in the AIU until the following day,
when he was to appear before a Sherburne County judge. (Pickett Dep. Tr. at 26.)
Also on August 8, 2006, Bruce Christenson was transported from Oak Park
Heights prison (OPH) to Sherburne by Transportation Deputy Cory Schoeck. (Schoeck
Dep. Tr. at 21-22.) OPH is the only Class 5, maximum-security prison in the state of
Minnesota. (Stoltz Dep. Tr. at 15; Carlson Dep. Tr. at 38-39.) The phrase Class 5
indicates that the majority of OPH inmates are inmates with the highest risk of escape
and/or violence. (Carlson Dep. Tr. at 38-39.) Christenson was housed at OPH in a
segregation unit known as Complex 5. (Ayers Dep. Tr. at 41.) Generally speaking,
inmates are placed in Complex 5 for punitive purposes after breaking prison rules. (Id. at
38-39.) Christenson was placed in Complex 5 for a 120-day period as a result of his
attack on a fellow inmate while housed at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St.
Cloud. (Id. at 77-80; Miller Dep. Tr. Ex. 8.) At the time of this attack, Christenson was
1 Plaintiffs are Gavin Moyle, Carl Moyles son, and Jessica Repp, Gavin Moyles guardian and
trustee for the next-of-kin of Carl Moyle.
3
serving a 108-month sentence for first-degree aggravated robbery, theft of a motor
vehicle, theft, and first-degree test refusal. (Ayers Dep. Tr. Ex. 1.)
Christenson was transferred on a Writ from OPH to Sherburne to appear before
the Sherburne County District Court. (Schoeck Dep. Tr. at 23-25.) He was to be charged
with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon for the above-referenced inmate
attack. (Ayers Dep. Tr. Ex. 2.) During the course of this transfer, no official from OPH
recalls receiving any communication from Sherburne County officials inquiring into the
violent nature of Christenson. (Bjorkman Dep. Tr. at 20-21; Miller Dep. Tr. at 38.) OPH
officials in direct communication with Sherburne concerning Christensons transfer also
maintain that it was not their responsibility to provide such information. (Bjorkman Dep.
Tr. at 26; Miller Dep. Tr. at 64-65.)2 However, Donna Miller, an OPH records official,
recalls referring to Christenson as a bad boy when discussing him with Schoeck on the
day of the transfer.3 (Miller Dep. Tr. at 20-21, 75-76.) Colleen Pederson, another OPH
records official, overhead Millers statement to Schoeck, maintaining that Millers full
statement was, [o]h, you are picking up one of our bad boys from seg.4 (Pederson Dep.
Tr. at 22-23.) Miller considered her statement to be an offhand remark, and it was not
intended as a warning regarding Christensons violent tendencies. (Miller Dep. Tr. at
2 Sherburne County officials believed that information concerning problematic inmate behavior
would be provided to them when a transfer was scheduled. (Peterson Aff. 14-16; B. Anderson
Dep. Tr. at 29-36; Knutson Dep. Tr. at 16-17.) When information regarding Christensons
violent behavior was not proffered by OPH, it was interpreted by Sherburne County officials as
an affirmation that Christenson was not a problematic inmate. (Peterson Aff. 13-18.)
3 Schoeck testified that he did not hear any such statement. (Schoeck Dep. Tr. at 36.)
4 The term seg is commonly used by prison officials to refer to segregation housing units. In
such units, inmates are given little to no contact with other inmates.
4
48.) Schoeck testified that if he had known Christenson was a violent inmate from
segregation, he would have communicated such information to Sherburne County
officials. (Schoeck Dep. Tr. at 37.)
When Christenson arrived at Sherburne, he was booked by Corrections Officer
Heather Pickett. (Pickett Dep. Tr. at 24.) At that time, the booking policy at Sherburne
required booking officers to ask inmates several questions and to review any other
available information in order to classify inmates as low-risk or high-risk. (Knutson Dep.
Tr. at 12-16.) If information was not provided to the booking officer concerning the
previous violent behavior of an inmate, such information was not affirmatively sought.
(Pickett Dep. Tr. at 46-47; Knutson Dep. Tr. at 15-17.) Generally, incoming inmates
were initially assigned to the AIU for a 72-hour observation period, after which they were
re-classified. (Jenson Dep. Tr. at 19.) Inmates like Christenson, coming to Sherburne
temporarily on a Writ, were also housed in the AIU. (Id.) If classified as high-risk,
inmates were placed in a special housing unit. (Pickett Dep. Tr. at 54.) In 2004 and
2006, the Department of Corrections inspected all required policies and procedures
utilized at Sherburne, including the classification policy, and found all of them to be
compliant with the rules governing detention facilities in Minnesota. (Carlson Dep. Tr.
Ex. 1; Croucher Dep. Tr. at 22-23, 39, 66.)
For classification purposes, Schoeck recorded that Christenson was transported
from OPH and charged with second-degree assault. (Pickett Dep. Tr. at 48-49; Schoeck
Dep. Tr. at 50-51.) This information was the only information provided to Pickett.
(Pickett Dep. Tr. at 48.) Pickett was not aware that Christenson was housed in
5
segregation at OPH or that Christenson was referred to as a bad boy by Miller. (Id. at
54-56.) Pickett also was not aware that Christenson had a history of mental illness and
had previously attacked an inmate. (Id. at 42, 49-50.) During the classification
procedure, Christenson displayed no signs of abnormal or violent behavior. (Id. at 64-
65.) Based on her questioning of Christenson, his general demeanor, and the information
provided, Pickett classified Christenson as low-risk. (Id. at 53, 64-65.) Thereafter,
Christenson was assigned to a handicap cell in the AIU next to Moyles cell. (Trushenski
Dep. Tr. at 7, 10-11; Jenson Dep. Tr. at 71.)5
On August 8, 2006, the AIU was a small unit with several cells and an open area.
(Jenson Dep. Tr. at 18.) While there, Christenson detached a handicap rail from the wall
of his cell. (Brott Aff. Ex. 1.)6 He then walked through the open door of Moyles cell
and bludgeoned him to death. (Id.)
On February 6, 2007, Plaintiffs commenced the instant action against Schoeck,
Pickett, and several other high-ranking officials from Sherburne County, in their
individual and official capacities, as well as Sherburne County itself. Plaintiffs assert
three claims: a failure-to-protect claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983; a corresponding
Monell claim against Sherburne County; and a state-law wrongful-death claim. (Am.
5 In his deposition, Senior Detention Facility Inspector Greg Croucher was critical of
Christensons classification. (Croucher Dep. Tr. at 32, 39-42.) Croucher stated that Christenson
should have been classified as high-risk based solely on the fact that he was coming from OPH
on the charge of second-degree assault. (Id. at 44-46.)
6 A handicap railing had never been removed from a cell wall prior to this incident. (Carlson
Dep. Tr. at 11; Croucher Dep. Tr. at 31.)
6
Compl. 30-39.) Defendants now move for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs
claims.
STANDARD OF DECISION
Summary judgment is proper if, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of showing that the
material facts in the case are undisputed. Id. at 322; Mems v. City of St. Paul, Dep=t of
Fire & Safety Servs., 224 F.3d 735, 738 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court must view the
evidence, and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from it, in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Graves v. Ark. Dep=t of Fin. & Admin., 229 F.3d 721,
723 (8th Cir. 2000); Calvit v. Minneapolis Pub. Schs., 122 F.3d 1112, 1116 (8th Cir.
1997). The nonmoving party may not rest on mere allegations or denials, but must show
through the presentation of admissible evidence that specific facts exist creating a
genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986);
Krenik v. County of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995).
ANALYSIS
I. The failure-to-protect claim fails as a matter of law.
Plaintiffs first assert a failure-to-protect claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983. The
threshold question when analyzing a Section-1983 claim is whether the plaintiff can
establish a constitutional violation. Cross v. City of Des Moines, 965 F.2d 629, 631-32
(8th Cir. 1992) (quoting Siegert v. Gilley, 500 U.S. 226, 232 (1991)). If no constitutional
7
violation has been established, the plaintiffs lawsuit must be dismissed. Cross, 965
F.2d at 632. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs first claim must fail because they cannot
establish a constitutional violation. (Def. Mem. at 15-27; Reply Mem. at 1-5.)7 The
Court agrees.
Plaintiffs and Defendants advocate for the application of different legal standards
for determining whether a constitutional violation has occurred. Plaintiffs argue that an
objective reasonableness standard should apply because Moyle was an arrestee, not a
convicted prisoner or a pre-trial detainee. (Mem. in Oppn at 26-34.) Defendants, on the
other hand, argue that the Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference standard that
applies to convicted prisoners should be applied. (Def. Mem. at 15-17; Reply Mem. at 1-
5.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court determines that the deliberate-indifference
standard is the appropriate standard to be applied in this case.
A. The distinction between convicted prisoners, pre-trial detainees, and
arrestees
Pre-trial detainees are those individuals who the government has probable cause
to believe have committed crimes. Johnson-El v. Schoemehl, 878 F.2d 1043, 1048 (8th
Cir. 1989). Plaintiffs contend that Moyle was an arrestee, not a pre-trial detainee,
because he had not appeared before a judge for a probable-cause determination. (Mem.
in Oppn at 27.)
7 For this same reason, the individual Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified
immunity. (Def. Mem. at 13-30.) Municipal officials are entitled to qualified immunity if no
constitutional violation can be established. See, e.g., Vaughn v. Green County, 438 F.3d 845,
850 (8th Cir. 2006). Therefore, if no constitutional violation is established, there is no necessity
for further inquiries concerning qualified immunity. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001).
8
Plaintiffs argued in their brief and in oral argument that in the failure-to-protect
context, arrestees should be afforded more constitutional protection than is provided to
pre-trial detainees or convicted prisoners. (Mem. in Oppn at 26-34.) Plaintiffs
argument, however, is not supported by any Eighth Circuit or Supreme Court decision.
Indeed, Plaintiffs have not cited any federal case that has provided greater constitutional
protection to arrestees in the failure-to-protect context than is provided to pre-trial
detainees. In the absence of any authority supporting the application of an alternative
standard, this Court applies the constitutional standard applicable to pre-trial detainees.8
Plaintiffs also appear to argue that even if Moyle were treated as a pre-trial
detainee, such detainees should be granted greater constitutional protection than
convicted prisoners. (Reply Mem. at 29-34.) This proposition, however, also is not
supported by any Eighth Circuit or Supreme Court decision.
Generally speaking, pre-trial detainees are distinguished from convicted prisoners
because the state has no right to punish them. Johnson-El, 878 F.2d at 1048 (citing
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 (1979)). Thus, the conditions and restrictions of
confinement for pre-trial detainees are analyzed under the Due Process Clauses of the
Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, not the Eighth Amendment. Id. Nevertheless, the
Eighth Circuit has stated that for pre-trial detainees, courts should apply the identical
deliberate-indifference standard as that applied to conditions-of-confinement claims made
by convicts. Crow v. Montgomery, 403 F.3d 598, 601 (8th Cir. 2005). In fact, the
8 This Court does not address the issue of whether Moyle was in fact an arrestee because such a
determination is not necessary in this case.
9
Eighth Circuit has several times applied the Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference
standard to pre-trial detainees failure-to-protect claims. See e.g., Hott v. Hennepin
County, 260 F.3d 901, 906-07 (8th Cir. 2001); Perkins v. Grimes, 161 F.3d 1127, 1129-
30 (8th Cir. 1998); Doe v. Wash. County, 150 F.3d 920, 922-23 (8th Cir. 1998); Thomas
v. Booker, 784 F.2d 299, 303 (8th Cir. 1986).9 Plaintiffs have not cited any Eighth
Circuit or Supreme Court decision granting greater constitutional protection to pre-trial
detainees in the failure-to-protect context, nor has this Court found any case so holding.
Accordingly, pursuant to the aforementioned Eighth Circuit jurisprudence, the deliberateindifference
standard must be applied in this case.
B. Establishing a constitutional violation: deliberate indifference
The Eighth Amendment imposes a duty on the part of prison officials to protect
prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners. Perkins, 161 F.3d at 1129
(citing Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 833 (1994)). However, not every injury
suffered by one prisoner at the hands of another . . . translates into constitutional liability
for prison officials responsible for the victims safety. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834. Indeed,
only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain implicates the Eighth Amendment.
9 Plaintiffs are correct that in Boswell v. Sherburne County, the Eighth Circuit noted that it was
unclear whether the Fourteenth Amendment provides pre-trial detainees with greater protection
than the Eighth Amendment in the failure-to-provide-adequate-medical-care context. 849 F.2d
1117, 1121 n.3 (8th Cir. 1988). In that case, the Eighth Circuit found it unnecessary and
unwise to make a finding on that issue, as it was not essential to the resolution of the case and
because the question had provoked various responses from the courts of appeals. Id. at 1121.
Therefore, the court applied the Eighth Amendment deliberate-indifference standard. Id.
Subsequent to Boswell, however, the Eighth Circuit has applied the deliberate-indifference
standard to pre-trial detainees failure-to-protect claims without pause. See, e.g., Crow, 403 F.3d
at 601. This Court is bound by this Eighth Circuit precedent, and will apply the deliberateindifference
standard here.
10
Id. (quoting Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 297 (1991)). To violate the Eighth
Amendment, therefore, a prison official must have a sufficiently culpable state of
mind. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 834 (quoting Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297). Hence, deliberate
indifference has both an objective and a subjective component: the objective component
requires the plaintiff to demonstrate a substantial risk of serious harm, while the
subjective component requires the plaintiff to show that defendants actually knew of but
disregarded, or were deliberately indifferent to, the substantial risk of serious harm.
Crow, 403 F.3d at 602.
The Supreme Court in Farmer described in detail the stringent requirements of the
subjective component of deliberate indifference. 511 U.S. at 835-47. Deliberate
indifference entails something more than mere negligence, . . . [but] something less than
acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that harm will
result. Id. at 835. Indeed, the official must both be aware of facts from which the
inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also
draw the inference. Id. at 837. Therefore, an officials failure to alleviate a significant
risk that he should have perceived but did not does not constitute deliberate indifference.
Id. at 838. A plaintiff may establish an officials actual knowledge of a substantial risk of
harm in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial evidence. Id. at 842.
In fact, a factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of a substantial risk from
the very fact that the risk was obvious. Id.
Applying this standard, the Eighth Circuit has addressed the failure-to-protect
claim of a pre-trial detainee under circumstances similar to those presented here. In
11
Crow, a pre-trial detainee was placed in a cell that consisted of a day room and two
bedroom cells. 403 F.3d at 600. Shortly after his placement in the cell, two other
inmates entered and broke his jaw. Id. The detainee thereafter brought several Section-
1983 claims against jail officials, including a claim that the attacking inmates were
inadequately classified. Id. at 602. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit held that even if the
prison officials were unreasonable, and might have done various things to prevent the
blow [to] Crow, reasonableness is a negligence standard and negligence cannot give
rise to an Eighth Amendment failure-to-protect claim. Id. Accordingly, the Eighth
Circuit held that the detainee had not made out a constitutional violation. Id. at 603.
Similar to the pre-trial detainee in Crow, Plaintiffs cannot establish that a
constitutional violation occurred in this case. While some evidence in the record may
demonstrate that Defendants might have done various things to prevent the death of
Moyle, there is no evidence of deliberate indifference. As demonstrated below, the
record is devoid of any evidence demonstrating that any named Defendant had actual
knowledge of Christensons violent proclivities or that Sherburnes classification policies
might allow a dangerous inmate to be placed in contact with other inmates. Accordingly,
even if the placement of Christenson in the AIU with Moyle constituted an objective,
substantial risk of physical harm, Plaintiffs claim fails as they cannot demonstrate that
any Defendant here knew of, but disregarded, or was deliberately indifferent to, a
substantial risk of harm.
1. Pickett
Plaintiffs must establish that Pickett, in her classification of Christenson as low12
risk, was deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm to Moyle and other inmates
to be housed with Christenson. Plaintiffs have not done this.
In Williams v. Kelso, an inmates heirs asserted that a jail officials failure to
properly classify and separate the inmate from other inmates resulted in constitutional
harm. 201 F.3d 1060, 1068 (8th Cir. 2000). The inmate was placed in a cell with other
inmates when he was suffering from intermittent psychosis. Id. at 1063. While in the
cell, a fight broke out which allegedly caused the inmate to later commit suicide. Id. The
Eighth Circuit found that while the classification officer may have been negligent in not
recognizing the inmates serious mental condition and failing to call for medical
assistance and/or segregating the inmate, the record lacked any evidence of deliberate
indifference. Id. at 1069. Therefore, the court reversed the district courts denial of
summary judgment in favor of the classification officer. Id.
Similar to the classification officer in Williams, there is no evidence here that
Pickett performed her classification of Christenson with deliberate indifference.
Plaintiffs assert in their brief that the facts present here support the inference that
Heather Pickett subjectively drew the inference that Christenson created a substantial
risk of harm. (Mem. in Oppn at 35.)10 While actual, subjective knowledge can
sometimes be inferred when a substantial risk of harm is obvious, see Farmer, 511 U.S. at
842, there is no evidence in this case to support such an inference.
During the classification procedure, Pickett asked Christenson all required
10 Plaintiffs also assert that Pickett made a mistake when she typed in the charge from the
detainer sheet. (Mem. in Oppn at 36.) The Court fails to see how such a mistake in any way
implies deliberate indifference.
13
questions and analyzed all the information before her, including the demeanor of
Christenson, and the fact that Christenson was coming from OPH facing charges of
assault. Based on this process, Pickett determined that Christenson was low-risk. While
the record may establish that Pickett was negligent in not seeking additional information
concerning Christenson, or in not classifying Christenson as high-risk based on the
information presented to her, the record is devoid of any evidence establishing that
Pickett was actually aware of a substantial risk of harm posed by Christenson. The
record is similarly devoid of any evidence establishing that Pickett was actually aware
that she possessed an insufficient amount of information to properly classify Christenson.
Pickett complied with all of the then-established classification procedures. That Pickett
completed the classification procedure, as she understood it, lends credence to the
inference that Pickett honestly and subjectively believed her classification was accurate.
Accordingly, Pickett is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs failure-toprotect
claim.
2. Schoeck
Plaintiffs similarly cannot establish the deliberate indifference of Schoeck.
Plaintiffs claim that Schoeck was deliberately indifferent when he did not communicate
Millers purported statement that Christenson was a bad boy from seg to Sherburne
County officials. (Mem. in Oppn at 37.) Plaintiffs further claim that Schoeck was
deliberately indifferent in not making further inquiries into the violent nature of
Christenson while effectuating the transfer. (Id.) In their attempt to establish such
deliberate indifference, Plaintiffs assert that a jury could readily infer that [Schoecks]
14
failure to ask or to transmit critical information to Pickett had more to do with his callous
attitude and indifference than with his lack of subjective knowledge of the risk
Christenson posed. (Id. at 38.) The Court does not agree.
The evidence in the record does not create a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether Schoeck was deliberately indifferent when he did not communicate the bad boy
from seg comment. Miller herself, the OPH records official who made this statement,
said that she did not intend her words to serve as a warning regarding Christensons
violent tendencies. With the exception of this off-the-cuff comment, Plaintiffs can point
to no evidence demonstrating that Schoeck was subjectively aware that Christenson
might pose a substantial risk of harm. Nothing in the record indicates that Christenson
acted in an unusual or violent manner that would put Schoeck on notice that he was
dangerous. At worst, Schoeck was negligent in not communicating to Sherburne County
officials the statement that Christenson was a bad boy from seg, but negligence is not
enough to establish liability in this case.
Nor does the evidence in the record create a genuine issue of material fact as to
whether Schoeck was deliberately indifferent when he did not inquire into the violent
tendencies of Christenson. Schoeck maintains that if he had known Christenson to be a
violent inmate from segregation, he would have communicated such information to
Pickett. However, Plaintiffs have not established that it was Schoecks affirmative duty
to inquire into the behavioral tendencies of all inmates in his custody. Schoeck was a
transportation deputy, not a classification officer. The fact that Schoeck did not
affirmatively inquire into Christensons behavior after hearing that he was a bad boy
15
from seg, is at worst negligent. Nothing in the record indicates that Schoeck believed
Christenson would create a substantial risk of harm.
Accordingly, Schoeck is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs failure-toprotect
claim.
3. Sheriff Bruce Anderson, Patrick Carr, Angela Knutson, and Brian
Frank
Sheriff Anderson, Carr, Knutson, and Frank are high-ranking officials in
Sherburne County. Plaintiffs do not contend that these Defendants had any direct role in
the transportation, classification, or cell assignment of Christenson or Moyle on August
8, 2006. Nevertheless, a plaintiff may establish the individual liability of a high-ranking
official in one of three ways: personal involvement, personal knowledge, or breach of a
legal duty that is the proximate cause of a constitutional violation. Johnson-El, 878 F.2d
at 1049. Specifically, officials can be found personally liable for policy decisions, but
only if they have personal knowledge of occurring constitutional violations, or if they
participate in decisions causing those violations, or in decisions foreseeably preventing
their redress, or comparable omissions. Id. at 1050.
a. Carr, Knutson, and Frank
Plaintiffs allege that Carr, Knutson, and Frank are high-ranking Sherburne County
officials with personal responsibility for drafting the booking, classification, and
transportation policies at Sherburne. (Mem. in Oppn at 38-39.) Plaintiffs also note that
Carr, Knutson, and Frank have training and supervisory responsibilities. (Id. at 39-40.)
Plaintiffs allege that Defendants performed these responsibilities with complete
16
passivity and that their failure to address the problem of transferred prisoners arriving
at Sherburne without important classification information constitutes deliberate
indifference. (Id. at 40.) The Court disagrees.
The record is devoid of any evidence showing that Carr, Knutson, or Frank were
subjectively aware of a substantial risk of harm created by Sherburnes booking,
classification, or transportation policies. Without such awareness, deliberate indifference
cannot be established. Furthermore, there is no evidence showing that these Defendants
were subjectively aware of a substantial risk of harm created by the way such policies
were implemented by Sherburne County personnel under their supervision. The record
does not indicate that any previous incidents had occurred where a dangerous inmate was
placed in the AIU, or in a general population unit, as a result of a lack of information
concerning the inmates behavioral tendencies. Without any such prior incidents, Carr,
Knutson, and Frank lacked notice that their booking, classification, and transportation
policies were in any way deficient. Moreover, in 2004 and 2006, the Department of
Corrections inspected the classification policies of Sherburne and found them to be
compliant with the rules governing detention facilities in Minnesota.
Accordingly, Carr, Knutson, and Frank are entitled to summary judgment on
Plaintiffs failure-to-protect claim.
b. Sheriff Anderson
Plaintiffs state that Sheriff Anderson, as Sherburne Countys chief lawenforcement
officer, had supervisory authority with respect to the classification and
transportation policies at Sherburne. (Mem. in Oppn at 41.) Plaintiffs further note that
17
Sheriff Anderson was the only official responsible for the information flow between
Sherburne and the Sheriffs department. (Id.) Plaintiffs contend that Sheriff Anderson
demonstrated deliberate indifference by not instituting a policy whereby the criminal
complaints of inmates were shared with classification officers. (Id.)
Like Carr, Knutson, and Frank, Sheriff Anderson had no notice that the policies at
Sherburne, over which he had supervisory authority, were in any way deficient. As such
policies were reviewed and considered compliant by the Department of Corrections,
Sheriff Anderson would have no way of knowing that inmates could be transferred
between detention facilities without the proper information being communicated. With
no evidence in the record establishing notice to Sheriff Anderson, Plaintiffs cannot
establish that he was subjectively aware of a substantial risk of harm posed by Sherburne
policy and procedure.
Accordingly, Sheriff Anderson is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs
failure-to-protect claim.
II. Plaintiffs Monell claim fails as a matter of law.
For a municipality to be liable under Section 1983, a plaintiff must identify a
municipal policy or custom that caused a constitutional injury. Bd. of County
Commrs of Bryan County v. Brown, 520 U.S. 397, 403 (1997) (citing Monell v. N.Y.
City Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). Thus, Plaintiffs must demonstrate
that through its deliberate conduct, [Sherburne County] was the moving force behind
the injury alleged. That is, [they] must show that the municipal action was taken with the
requisite degree of culpability. Bd. of County Commrs, 520 U.S. at 404.
18
Having established that no constitutional violation was perpetrated by any
individual Defendant in this case, Sherburne County cannot have been the moving
force behind a constitutional violation. The Supreme Court has stated that neither
Monell, nor any other Supreme Court case, authorizes the award of damages against a
municipal corporation based on the actions of one of its officers when in fact the [court]
has concluded that the officer inflicted no constitutional harm. City of L.A. v. Heller,
475 U.S. 796, 799 (1986). In addition, the Eighth Circuit has held that a municipality
cannot be held liable for a municipal custom or policy when the individual officer is not
found liable on the underlying substantive claim. Abbott v. City of Crocker, 30 F.3d
994, 998 (8th Cir. 1994). When no deprivation of rights has occurred, there is nothing
for which the municipality can be liable. Wilson v. Spain, 209 F.3d 713, 717 (8th Cir.
2000) (quoting 42 U.S.C. 1983).11
Accordingly, Sherburne County is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs
Monell claim.12
III. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs statelaw
wrongful-death claim.
Having concluded that Defendants Motion for Summary Judgment must be
granted vis--vis the Section-1983 and Monell claims, the Courts original jurisdiction
11 But see Doe, 150 F.3d at 922 (stating that, in some circumstances, a governmental entity can
be liable under section 1983 even though no government official was found personally liable).
12 As official capacity suits generally represent only another way of pleading an action against
an entity of which an officer is an agent, all Defendants sued in their official capacities are also
entitled to summary judgment. Monell, 436 U.S. at 690 n.55.
19
has been extinguished. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1367(c)(3), the Court may, sua sponte,
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a pendent state-law claim if it has
dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction. Johnson v. City of
Shorewood, 360 F.3d 810, 819 (8th Cir. 2004). When all federal claims are eliminated
before trial, the balance of factors to be considered in deciding whether to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over a pendent state-law claim typically militates against
exercising jurisdiction. Id. (citing Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350
n.7 (1988)). Based on Section 1367(c)(3) and Johnson, the Court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs state-law wrongful-death claim.
CONCLUSION
Based on the foregoing, and all the files, records, and proceedings herein, it is
ORDERED that Defendants= Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 58) is
GRANTED. Plaintiffs federal claims (Am. Compl. 30-36) are DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE and Plaintiffs state-law wrongful-death claim (Am. Compl. 37-39) is
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.13
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: October 15, 2008 s/Richard H. Kyle
RICHARD H. KYLE
United States District Judge
13 See 28 U.S.C. 1367(d).
 

 
 
 

  What day were you injured?

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Traffic/Bicycle Accident
Work-Related Injury
Wrongful Death
Dog Bite
Slip and Fall
Other:


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  What kinds of medical care
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        this.

Someone else's insurance
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