742 Fed.Appx. 377 (10th Cir. 2018), 17-7037, Rife v. Jefferson

Docket Nº:17-7037, 17-7038
Citation:742 Fed.Appx. 377
Opinion Judge:Nancy L. Moritz, Circuit Judge
Party Name:Clyde Allen RIFE, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Joe JEFFERSON, Defendant-Appellant, and Oklahoma Department of Public Safety; Johnny Tadlock; Chad Dale; Jonathon Willis; McCurtain County Jail Trust; Scott McClain, Defendants. Clyde Allen Rife, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Chad Dale; Jonathon Willis, Defendants-Appellants, and Oklahoma Department of Public ...
Attorney:Robert M. Blakemore, Daniel E. Smolen, Donald E. Smolen, II, Smolen Smolen & Roytman, Tulsa, OK, for Plaintiff-Appellee Devan Pederson, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK, for Defendant-Appellant Devan Pederson, Office of the Attorney General for the State...
Judge Panel:Before LUCERO, McKAY, and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 02, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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Page 377

742 Fed.Appx. 377 (10th Cir. 2018)

Clyde Allen RIFE, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Joe JEFFERSON, Defendant-Appellant,

and

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety; Johnny Tadlock; Chad Dale; Jonathon Willis; McCurtain County Jail Trust; Scott McClain, Defendants.

Clyde Allen Rife, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Chad Dale; Jonathon Willis, Defendants-Appellants,

and

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety; Joe Jefferson, State Trooper; McCurtain County Jail Trust, Defendants.

Nos. 17-7037, 17-7038

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 2, 2018

Editorial Note:

UNPUBLISHED OPINION (See Fed. Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 10th Cir. Rule 32.1.)

(D.C. No. 6:14-CV-00333-GKF) (E.D. Oklahoma)

Robert M. Blakemore, Daniel E. Smolen, Donald E. Smolen, II, Smolen Smolen & Roytman, Tulsa, OK, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Devan Pederson, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK, for Defendant-Appellant

Devan Pederson, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK, for Defendant Joe Jefferson

Ammon J. Brisolara, I, Chris J. Collins, Stephen Leon Geries, Collins Zorn & Wagner, Oklahoma City, OK, for Defendants Johnny Tadlock, Chad Dale, Jonathon Willis, McCurtain County Jail Trust, Scott McClain

Before LUCERO, McKAY, and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.

ORDER AND JUDGMENT[*]

Nancy L. Moritz, Circuit Judge

Page 378

To survive a motion for summary judgment on qualified-immunity grounds, a plaintiff must make a two-part showing. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that under the relevant version of the facts, the defendant violated a constitutional right. Second, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the contours of that constitutional right were clearly established at the time of the alleged violation.

Here, the district court initially ruled that Joe Jefferson, Chad Dale, and Jonathon Willis (collectively, the defendants) were entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff Clyde Rife’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims because Rife failed to satisfy the first part of this two-part test. Specifically, the district court ruled that Rife failed to demonstrate the defendants violated the Fourteenth Amendment by displaying deliberate indifference to Rife’s serious medical needs. And in light of that conclusion, the district court granted the defendants’ motions for summary judgment without addressing whether the law was clearly established.

Rife appealed, and a panel of this court reversed. It held that under the relevant version of the facts, Rife indeed demonstrated a constitutional violation. But like the district court before it, the panel declined to address whether the defendants’ conduct violated clearly established law. Instead, the panel remanded that question to the district court. And this time, the district court ruled in Rife’s favor. That is, it determined that the defendants violated clearly established law by displaying deliberate indifference to Rife’s serious medical needs. Thus, the district court denied the defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The defendants now appeal that ruling.

We affirm in part and reverse in part. To the extent the district court ruled that Jefferson’s conduct violated clearly established law, we agree. Accordingly, we affirm the portion of the district court’s order denying Jefferson’s motion for summary judgment on qualified-immunity grounds. But we disagree with the district court’s conclusion that Willis’ and Dale’s conduct violated clearly established law. So we reverse the portion of the district court’s order denying their motion for summary judgment and remand with directions to enter summary judgment in their favor.

Background

In an interlocutory appeal from an order denying qualified immunity at the summary-judgment

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stage, "[t]he district court’s factual findings and reasonable assumptions" generally "comprise ‘the universe of facts upon which we base our legal review.’ " Cox v. Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231, 1242 (10th Cir. 2015) (quoting Fogarty v. Gallegos, 523 F.3d 1147, 1154 (10th Cir. 2008) ). Thus, our first step is typically to determine just what those "factual findings and reasonable assumptions" are. Id. But here, another panel of this court has already made those determinations in a previous appeal. See generally

Rife v. Okla. Dep’t of Pub. Safety ( Rife I ), 854 F.3d 637 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, __ U.S. __, 138 S.Ct. 364, 199 L.Ed.2d 273 (2017). Accordingly, under the law-of-the-case doctrine, we derive the following historical facts from our decision in that appeal. See

Rohrbaugh v. Celotex Corp., 53 F.3d 1181, 1183 (10th Cir. 1995) ("[W]hen a case is appealed and remanded, the decision of the appellate court establishes the law of the case and ordinarily will be followed by both the trial court on remand and the appellate court in any subsequent appeal.").

On May 14, 2013, Jefferson, an Oklahoma state trooper, found Rife sitting on a motorcycle on the side of a road. See

Rife I, 854 F.3d at 641. Rife told Jefferson that he was fine. But there were obvious signs to the contrary. For instance, Rife had dried blood on his nose. There were grass stains on his clothes. And there were grass and grass stains on his motorcycle, "indicating that he had been thrown from" the bike. Id. at 643. Rife also appeared to be confused: his speech was slurred and he couldn’t provide the date, the time, or his social security number. Likewise, although Rife knew he’d been in Idabel, Oklahoma earlier that day, he couldn’t remember what he’d done there. Id.

Jefferson suspected that Rife was intoxicated. But because intoxication and head injuries can manifest in similar ways, Jefferson performed further testing. Rife displayed no other signs of a head injury, such as "unequal tracking of the pupils, unequal pupil size, and resting nystagmus." Id. at 643-44. Yet he did exhibit six "clues" of intoxication. Id. at 644. Rife also failed or was unable to complete "four additional tests" for intoxication that Jefferson attempted to perform. Id. Before one of those tests, Rife told Jefferson he felt "floaty." Id. at 644. During another, "Rife lost his balance." Id.

Nevertheless, Jefferson knew Rife wasn’t drunk. Instead, he suspected that Rife "had taken too much pain medication." Id. at 644. On that basis, Jefferson arrested Rife for public intoxication. At the time of the arrest, Jefferson knew that Rife had— despite Rife’s repeated protestations to the contrary— "obviously been in an accident." Id. But Jefferson didn’t think the accident was a serious one. For one thing, Rife didn’t "have the type of visible injuries that would likely result from a high-speed or high-impact accident." Id. For another, "there was little damage to the motorcycle or [its] saddlebags." Id. Thus, Jefferson transported Rife directly to jail. Id. at 645. Along the way, Rife said that his chest and heart hurt and "groaned in pain."1 Id. at 648. At some point, Rife also "stated that he felt sick." Id. Nevertheless, Jefferson didn’t seek medical attention for Rife. Id. at 649.

When Jefferson arrived at the jail with Rife in tow, he told jail officials Willis and Dale that Rife was under arrest for public

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intoxication. But neither Jefferson nor Rife "mentioned the motorcycle accident." Id. at 641, 651. Nor did they indicate that Rife "might have been injured." Id. at 651.

During the booking process, Rife "was dazed": he "slurr[ed] his words and show[ed] confusion about where he was [and] what he was doing." Id. As a result, Willis and Dale both suspected that Rife was "on" something. Id. But Willis wasn’t sure what, and neither man could smell alcohol on Rife’s breath. Nevertheless, Willis placed Rife on medical observation, "fearing that he might throw up in his sleep. This placement required jail personnel to check on [Rife] every [15] minutes."2 Id.

After booking him into the jail, Willis and Dale moved Rife to a holding cell. As he entered the cell, "Rife moaned loudly, showed obvious pain, and repeatedly complained of stomach pain."3 Id. Nevertheless, neither Willis nor Dale "obtain[ed] medical attention for" him. Id. at 652.

The next morning, Rife collapsed in the bail bondsman’s office.

Id. As it turns out, Rife wasn’t intoxicated after all; instead his behavior was the result of a head injury that he suffered in the motorcycle accident. Id. at 641.

Rife later sued the defendants under § 1983, asserting that their failure to seek medical attention for him violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. See Rife I, 854 F.3d at 642; id. at 647 ("[T]he Fourteenth Amendment is violated if state officials are deliberately indifferent to a pretrial detainees serious medical needs."). The defendants moved for summary judgment and the...

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