302 F.3d 845 (8th Cir. 2002), 01-3415, Meloy v. Bachmeier

Docket Nº:01-3415.
Citation:302 F.3d 845
Party Name:William Thomas MELOY, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Kathy BACHMEIER; Defendant-Appellant, Dr. Bernard J. O'Neill, Defendant.
Case Date:September 11, 2002
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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302 F.3d 845 (8th Cir. 2002)

William Thomas MELOY, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Kathy BACHMEIER; Defendant-Appellant,

Dr. Bernard J. O'Neill, Defendant.

No. 01-3415.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

September 11, 2002

Submitted: June 10, 2002.

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William G. Peterson, argued, Bismarck, ND (Douglas A. Bahr, on the brief), for appellant.

Chad R. McCabe, argued, Bismarck, ND, for appellee.

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Before BOWMAN, FAGG, and BYE, Circuit Judges.

FAGG, Circuit Judge.

William Thomas Meloy, a former inmate at the North Dakota State Penitentiary (NDSP), brought this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Dr. Bernard J. O'Neill, an NDSP doctor, and Kathy Bachmeier, a nurse who is the NDSP's Director of Medical Services, alleging they violated his civil rights by failing to provide him with a continuous positive air pressure machine (CPAP) to treat his obstructive sleep ap-nea (OSA), a condition that causes him to stop breathing while he sleeps. Meloy alleged the failure was deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, with respect to Bachmeier, Meloy alleged Bachmeier knew Dr. O'Neill provided inadequate care to inmates and "allowed that lack of care and treatment to continue to include the treatment received by Meloy in a potentially life threatening situation." Meloy also alleged Backmeier failed to object to Dr. O'Neill's inadequate care, allowing Meloy "to continue to suffer when she had significant information that would bring her to the conclusion that something was not right." Finally, Meloy alleged that Bachmeier failed in her responsibilities by insisting that Meloy buy his own CPAP when she knew he lacked the funds to do so.

The district court dismissed the action under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1) for failure to state a claim. We affirmed the dismissal of claims against some parties, but reversed the dismissal of claims against Bachmeier and O'Neill. Meloy v. Schuetzle, No. 99-2122, 2000 WL 1160446, at *2 (8th Cir. Aug.17, 2000). We stated that "[biased on the allegations of his complaint, it is possible Meloy could prove facts demonstrating Bachmeier and/or O'Neill knew of and deliberately disregarded Meloy's need for a CPAP, and their conduct violated his Eighth Amendment rights." Id. We also commented that our decision would not preclude summary judgment if Meloy could not establish the requisite facts. Id. Bachmeier later moved for summary judgment based in part on qualified immunity, asserting she relied on the doctor's orders. The district court denied Bachmeier's motion, finding factual issues precluded summary judgment. The court also concluded qualified immunity was inappropriate. The district court believed that "because of her training, supervisory duties, and actual knowledge of Meloy's condition, Bachmeier [could] not escape liability merely by claiming she followed orders." On appeal, Bachmeier contends she is entitled to qualified immunity.

We state the facts in the light most favorable to Meloy. Erickson v. Holloway, 77 F.3d 1078, 1079 (8th Cir. 1996). As director of medical services at NDSP, Bachmeier ensures "inmates are provided equity and consistency in their medical services" and arranges for inmates to be seen by medical personnel and treated accordingly. She is a nurse, but does not examine or take care of patients herself. Instead, an NDSP staff nurse interviews inmates, takes notes and vital signs, and relays the inmates' problems to a staff doctor, who examines them and decides on treatment or, if needed, referral to a specialist. When Meloy was admitted to the NDSP on March 31, 1998, he completed intake health forms indicating that he suffers from OSA and that his doctor prescribed nightly CPAP use to treat it. Meloy signed forms authorizing the NDSP to obtain his health records. On April 1, 1998, Meloy was examined by a staff nurse and complained of pressure in his chest. Dr. O'Neill examined Meloy the next day and diagnosed OSA. Although Dr. O'Neill stated Meloy could use his own CPAP if

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available, Dr. O'Neill did not prescribe a CPAP for Meloy. On April 6 or 7, the NDSP received Meloy's earlier medical records, which detail Meloy's diagnosis of OSA and the prescription of nightly CPAP use. Dr. O'Neill reviewed the records and stood by his earlier treatment instructions. Meloy sent Bachmeier an inmate request on April 12 indicating his OSA and lack of CPAP were causing him problems. In accordance with Dr. O'Neill's order, Bachmeier responded that Meloy could use a CPAP in prison if he provided his own machine. Meloy was admitted to the NDSP infirmary on April 18 with chest pains. He remained there until May 8, when he saw a...

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