789 F.Supp.2d 895 (M.D.Tenn. 2011), 3:09-00219, Villegas v. Metropolitan Government of Davidson County

Docket Nº:3:09-00219.
Citation:789 F.Supp.2d 895
Opinion Judge:WILLIAM J. HAYNES, JR., District Judge.
Party Name:Juana VILLEGAS, Plaintiff, v. METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF DAVIDSON COUNTY/Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office, et al., Defendants.
Attorney:Harry Elliott Ozment, Law Offices of Elliott Ozment, Nashville, TN, John L. Farringer, IV, Phillip F. Cramer, William L. Harbison, Sherrard & Roe, Nashville, TN, for Plaintiff. Allison L. Bussell, Kevin C. Klein, Francis Howard Young, James W.J. Farrar, Metropolitan Legal Department, Mark H. Wild...
Case Date:April 27, 2011
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Middle District of Tennessee

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789 F.Supp.2d 895 (M.D.Tenn. 2011)

Juana VILLEGAS, Plaintiff,


METROPOLITAN GOVERNMENT OF DAVIDSON COUNTY/Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office, et al., Defendants.

No. 3:09-00219.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division.

April 27, 2011

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Harry Elliott Ozment, Law Offices of Elliott Ozment, Nashville, TN, John L. Farringer, IV, Phillip F. Cramer, William L. Harbison, Sherrard & Roe, Nashville, TN, for Plaintiff.

Allison L. Bussell, Kevin C. Klein, Francis Howard Young, James W.J. Farrar, Metropolitan Legal Department, Mark H. Wildasin, Michael L. Roden, Office of the United States Attorney, Nashville, TN, for Defendants.


WILLIAM J. HAYNES, JR., District Judge.

Plaintiff, Juana Villegas, filed this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983, against the Defendants: Metropolitan Government of Nashville Davidson County, Tennessee, Nashville Davidson County Sheriff's Office 1, Janet Napolitano, in her official capacity as Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, and John Doe # 1, John Doe # 2, John Doe # 3 and John Doe # 4. Plaintiff's specific claims are that the Defendants' conduct violated her rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs arising from Defendants' shackling of Plaintiff during the final stages of her labor during her pregnancy and post-partum recovery. Plaintiff also asserts other federal constitutional claims that the Defendants violated her First Amendment right to familial association and her Fourth Amendment right of personal privacy. Plaintiff further asserts claims that the Davidson County Sheriff's Office (" DCSO" ) breached its contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (" ICE" ) on Metro's detention of her and Defendants' conduct violated the Tennessee Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 and Section 32. In earlier proceedings, Plaintiff nonsuited her claims against the John Doe Defendants. (Docket Entry No. 53). The Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims against the Secretary. (Docket Entry Nos. 44 and 45). The remaining parties proceeded with discovery.

Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, (Docket Entry Nos. 77 and 84), but Plaintiff seeks only partial summary judgment on her federal and state constitutional claims.

In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants contend, in sum: (1) that handcuffing and shackling Plaintiff during her active labor and post-partum recovery have penological justifications; (2) that Plaintiff cannot show any objective harm by reason of Defendants' acts or omissions, nor that the Defendants acted in reckless disregard of any risk to Plaintiff by their handcuffing and shackling her and; (3) that Defendants' policies restricting Plaintiff's right to personal privacy and access to her child, as well as visits or telephone contacts with family members, were also based upon penological justifications. Thus, without actionable federal claims, Defendants also seek dismissal of Plaintiff's state law claims without prejudice.

In her motion, Plaintiff asserts, in essence, that Defendants' shackling of her during her active labor, shortly before actual delivery and during her post-partum recovery as well as Defendants' agents' disregard of a physician's " no restraint" directive, violated Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from deliberate indifference to her serious medical condition.

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In addition, Plaintiff contends that Defendants also exhibited recklessness during her hospital stay and interfered with her rights to personal privacy and familial association.

A. Findings of Fact

1. Plaintiff's Initial Confinement

On July 3, 2008, Tim Coleman, a Berry Hill, Tennessee 2 police office arrested Plaintiff, Juana Villegas, who was nine months pregnant, for driving without a valid license. (Docket Entry No. 93, Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 1). After Plaintiff could not produce a driver's license, Coleman arrested Plaintiff and transported her to the DCSO jail. Id. at ¶ ¶ 2-3. DCSO accepts and houses individuals arrested by local law enforcement agencies without inquiry into whether the arrest was proper. Id. at ¶ 6. In Davidson County, a judicial commissioner determines if probable cause exists to justify an arrest and Plaintiff made some type of appearance before a commissioner. Id. at ¶ 7. From July 3rd until July 5th 2008, Plaintiff was held in the Davidson County jail. Id. at ¶ 13. Because July 4th was a holiday, Davidson County courts did not meet that day. Id. On the evening of July 5th, Plaintiff was confined at the Correctional Development Center, a female correctional facility on Harding Place in Nashville. Id. at ¶ 12.

While in the DCSO's custody, a DCSO employee and agent of the United States under DCSO's 287(g) program with ICE, screened Plaintiff for classification, inquired of Plaintiff's legal status and determined that Plaintiff was not lawfully in the United States. Id. at ¶ 9. Plaintiff initially asserted that she was deported by voluntary agreement.3 ICE then placed a federal detainer on Plaintiff pending resolution of her state charges. Id. at ¶ 10. The ICE detainer caused Plaintiff to be classified as a medium-security inmate. (Docket Entry No. 86-1, Barshaw Deposition at 5, 6). Although Plaintiff was able to secure bond for the traffic offense, the ICE detainer precluded Plaintiff's release from DCSO custody. (Docket Entry No. 94-21, Carachure Deposition at 37-39).

2. Commencement of Plaintiff's Labor

According to Defendants, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on July 5th, Plaintiff informed Richard Ramsey, a male jail guard that her " water," i.e., amniotic fluid " broke" and " that she was having labor pains." (Docket Entry No. 93, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement Undisputed Facts at ¶ 14). Plaintiff told the officer who was at her cell to distribute food " my baby is coming." (Docket Entry No. 86-15, Villegas Deposition at 116). DCSO's jail incident report reflects that Plaintiff's water actually broke at 9:00 p.m. (Docket Entry No. 94-22). In any event, jail guards transported Plaintiff to the jail infirmary where a nurse confirmed that Plaintiff's water had broken and summoned an ambulance. (Docket Entry No. 93, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ ¶ 14 and 16).

Plaintiff was placed on a stretcher and transported to Metro General Hospital (" MGH" ) with her wrists restrained in front of her body and her legs restrained together. Id. at ¶ 18. Lt. Kristina Quintal, a jail supervisor sent two male officers

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to transport Plaintiff. (Docket Entry No. 86-1, Barshaw Deposition at 17-20). In route to the hospital, Matthew Barshaw, a DCSO officer asked Lt. Quintal if Plaintiff needed to be shackled because " what's going through my head now is what if all of a sudden the baby started— took more time to unrestrain these restraints in the back of the ambulance." Id. at 23. Plaintiff testified that she was in pain, from contractions during this time. (Docket Entry No. 86-15, Villegas Deposition at 123, 128). According to Defendants, because hospitals are " conducive to security breaches including escape," inmates at hospitals remain shackled, including Plaintiff. (Docket Entry No. 79, Stalder Declaration at 7g, i).

3. Plaintiff's Hospitalization

When Plaintiff arrived in her hospital room at MGH, she remained shackled until her transfer to the hospital bed from the ambulance stretcher. (Docket Entry No. 86-1, Barshaw Deposition at 28). Nurses requested a jail officer to remove Plaintiff's handcuffs to change Plaintiff into a hospital gown. Id. at 28, 29. Plaintiff was unshackled and Barshaw and Farragher a fellow male officer, remained in Plaintiff's room, but turned their backs to Plaintiff, as the nurses and a doctor requested. Id. at 29. A doctor requested that the officers turn their backs while she examined Plaintiff's lower extremities. Id. Once in her hospital gown, officers Farragher and/or Barshaw again restrained Plaintiff's hands and legs while she was in the hospital bed. (Docket Entry No. 93, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants' Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 26). Plaintiff asserts that she repeatedly asked the guards to remove the restraints. (Docket Entry No. 94-5, Villegas Declaration at ¶ 6).

Brandi Moore, a corporal in DCSO's transportation division, relieved Officers Farragher and Barshaw very shortly after Plaintiffs arrival at MGH. (Docket Entry No. 93, Plaintiff's Response to Defendants Statement of Undisputed Facts at ¶ 27). Farragher informed Moore that Plaintiff was a medium security inmate with a " hold," " detainer" or something to that effect. Id. at ¶ ¶ 28 and 29. Moore also had a " charge sheet" with Plaintiff's name, charge, and custody level. Id. at ¶ 29. Moore removed the handcuffs from Plaintiff, but restrained one of Plaintiff's legs to the hospital bed. Id. at ¶ 30. According to Moore, she overheard MGH medical staff talking to a doctor about a " No Restraint Order," but the doctor did not respond. (Docket Entry No. 86-6, Moore Deposition at 35, 50). A nurse, however, commented that the officers " shouldn't put leg irons on her" and Moore described the nurse as " rude." Id. at 59-60. A nurse described to jail officers the high risk of blood clots after giving birth, if the shackles were not removed.4 (Docket Entry No. 86-5, Ray Deposition at 53-55). According to Plaintiff's hospital records, at 11:20 p.m. on July 5, 2008, Dr. Kesha Robertson signed a physician's order stating: " Please remove shackles" and this Order was placed in Plaintiff's hospital file. Id. at 25-26. Moore did not see...

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