255 F.3d 644 (8th Cir. 2001), 00-1822, Mays v. Rhodes

Docket Nº:00-1822
Citation:255 F.3d 644
Party Name:LINDA MAYS, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF STEVEN ANTHONY MAYS, DECEASED, APPELLEE, v. H. G. RHODES, MAJOR, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; LARRY A. TEAL, FIELD LT., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; J. ANDREWS, SERGEANT, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKA
Case Date:June 29, 2001
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 644

255 F.3d 644 (8th Cir. 2001)

LINDA MAYS, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF STEVEN ANTHONY MAYS, DECEASED, APPELLEE,

v.

H. G. RHODES, MAJOR, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; LARRY A. TEAL, FIELD LT., INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS; J. ANDREWS, SERGEANT, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, APPELLANTS.

No. 00-1822

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 29, 2001

Submitted: January 10, 2001

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Before Richard S. Arnold and Bowman, Circuit Judges, and Kyle, 1 District Judge.

Bowman, Circuit Judge

In early November 1996, Steven Mays became an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit. On November 6, he began his first day of work on a hoe squad under the supervision of Sergeant Jeremy Andrews. Steven completed the morning session, took a lunch break, and returned to work for the afternoon session. At mid-afternoon, with the temperature reaching only seventy-two degrees, Steven collapsed. Andrews called for assistance. Lieutenant Larry Teal responded and after investigating Steven's condition called Major Harry Rhodes, who transported Steven to the prison infirmary. After initial treatment and diagnosis, infirmary personnel transferred Steven to a hospital. He never regained consciousness and died later the next day, his death apparently resulting from heat exhaustion.

Linda Mays, the decedent's mother, initiated a § 1983 suit as the personal representative of Steven's estate. She alleged that Rhodes, Teal, and Andrews 2 violated Steven's Eighth Amendment rights by requiring him to continue working after he exhibited signs of heat exhaustion and by delaying medical treatment after he collapsed. The officers argued that qualified immunity shielded them from suit and moved for summary judgment. The District Court denied the officers' claim of qualified immunity, and they appeal. We reverse.

I.

We first consider Linda Mays's argument that we lack jurisdiction to hear this interlocutory appeal. Although the denial of summary judgment generally does not create the finality required for appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has repeatedly instructed that "a district court's denial of a claim of qualified immunity, to the extent that it turns on an issue of law, is an appealable 'final decision' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1291 notwithstanding the absence of a final judgment." Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985); accord Behrens v. Pelletier, 516 U.S. 299, 306 (1996); Johnson v. Jones, 515 U.S. 304, 311 (1995). In adjudicating the officers' claim of qualified immunity in this case, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to Mays, and our decision turns on whether, so viewed, the officers as a matter of law are entitled to qualified immunity. We have jurisdiction to hear this appeal. See McCaslin v. Wilkins, 183 F.3d 775, 778 (8th Cir. 1999); Collins v. Bellinghausen, 153 F.3d 591, 595 (8th Cir. 1998).

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II.

Qualified immunity generally shields public officials performing discretionary functions from civil liability if "their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known." Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). We perform a three-part inquiry in order to determine whether a plaintiff's lawsuit can proceed against a defendant public official despite his assertion of...

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