800 F.3d 1231 (10th Cir. 2015), 14-5022, Cox v. Glanz
|Citation:||800 F.3d 1231|
|Opinion Judge:||HOLMES, Circuit Judge.|
|Party Name:||CAROLYN COX, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. STANLEY GLANZ, Defendant-Appellant|
|Attorney:||Daniel E. Smolen of Smolen, Smolen & Roytman, P.L.L.C., Tulsa, Oklahoma (Donald E. Smolen, II, of Smolen, Smolen & Roytman, P.L.L.C., Tulsa, Oklahoma; Robert M. Blakemore, Louis W. Bullock, and Patricia W. Bullock of Bullock Law Firm, Tulsa, Oklahoma, with him on the brief), for Plaintiff-Appelle...|
|Judge Panel:||Before BRISCOE, Chief Judge, HOLMES and BACHARACH, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||September 08, 2015|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit|
Charles Jernegan committed suicide at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (“Jail”). His mother, Plaintiff-Appellee Carolyn Cox, brought a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action against Defendant-Appellant Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz. Sheriff Glanz moved for summary judgment, asserting the defense of qualified immunity. The district court denied the Sheriff’s motion (without mentioning qualified immunity) based on the existence of... (see full summary)
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. (D.C. No. 4:11-CV-00457-JED-FHM).
After Charles Jernegan committed suicide at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma (" Jail" ), his mother, Plaintiff-Appellee Carolyn Cox, commenced this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against Defendant-Appellant Stanley Glanz, the Tulsa County Sheriff (" Sheriff Glanz" or " the Sheriff" ). Ms. Cox sought to hold Sheriff Glanz liable for Mr. Jernegan's suicide in his individual capacity (relying upon a supervisory-liability theory) and in his official capacity. Regarding both capacities, she alleged Eighth Amendment violations. Sheriff Glanz moved for summary judgment, asserting the defense of qualified immunity. The district court issued a ruling in which it denied the Sheriff's motion in all respects--albeit without mentioning qualified immunity--based on the existence of genuinely disputed material facts.
In this interlocutory appeal, Sheriff Glanz contends that extant caselaw at the time of Mr. Jernegan's suicide did not clearly establish that he could be held liable as a supervisor under the circumstances present here--put succinctly, where Mr. Jernegan denied having a suicidal intent during booking and no Jail staff members detected a basis for referring him for additional mental-health screening based on their interactions with him. Accordingly, the Sheriff reasons that this dearth of clearly established law means that the district court erred in (tacitly) denying him qualified immunity. The Sheriff also asserts that none of the policies or procedures he has implemented at the Jail can be characterized as the moving force behind any alleged violation of Mr. Jernegan's constitutional rights; consequently, he says, there is no basis for official liability.
For ease of reference, we briefly summarize the conclusions of our ensuing detailed analysis. First, we agree with Sheriff Glanz that reversal on Ms. Cox's individual-capacity claim is justified here and that the case must be remanded to the district court. We specifically base our decision to reverse on our determination infra that the then-extant clearly established law would not have put a jail administrator similarly situated to Sheriff Glanz on notice that he could be held liable under § 1983 for an Eighth Amendment violation based on a prisoner's suicide where, as here, neither he nor any identified staff member whom he supervised possessed knowledge that the particular inmate who committed suicide presented a substantial risk of taking his own life. Absent such knowledge, under then-extant clearly established law, the conduct of neither Sheriff Glanz nor his identified subordinates with respect to a particular prisoner--here, Mr. Jernegan--could give rise to an Eighth Amendment violation. Consequently, Ms. Cox cannot perforce make the requisite showing under the clearly-established-law component of the well-settled qualified-immunity standard. We thus reverse the district court's summary-judgment decision denying qualified immunity to Sheriff Glanz on Ms. Cox's individual-capacity claim.
As for Ms. Cox's official-capacity claim against Sheriff Glanz, however, we confront the threshold issue of whether the exercise of our appellate jurisdiction is proper. This is so because the district court's denial of the motion for summary judgment brought by the Sheriff in his official capacity is indisputably not a final decision amenable to interlocutory review. Our assumption of jurisdiction over the court's resolution of the official-capacity claim would therefore only be appropriate if we invoked our discretionary power to exercise pendent jurisdiction over this claim. Sheriff Glanz, however, has not relied upon this generally disfavored doctrine; furthermore, we discern no legally cognizable basis for exercising pendent appellate jurisdiction under the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, we dismiss Sheriff Glanz's appeal from the district court's denial of summary judgment on the official-capacity claim for lack of jurisdiction.
Mr. Jernegan surrendered at the Jail on July 27, 2009, on an outstanding warrant. He was immediately arrested and processed into the facility. As part of the Jail's routine intake screening, the booking officer asked Mr. Jernegan whether he " [was] under psychiatric or a general Doctor's care" ; " [was] currently taking any prescription medications" ; " [had] been seen or treated in a clinic, hospital or emergency room in the last 3 days" ; or was suicidal. J.A. at 326 (Intake Screening Form, dated July 27, 2009). Mr. Jernegan answered " no" to each of these questions, id., and he indicated that he was not " currently thinking of committing suicide" on another intake form, id. at 327 (Gen. Info. Form, dated July 27, 2009) (reflecting that option " N," for " no," is marked directly above Mr. Jernegan's signature).
The booking officer also completed a more tailored form with questions designed to gauge an inmate's mental health. Mr. Jernegan answered the form's six questions as follows:
1. Do you currently feel paranoid, hear voices that others do not hear or see things that others do not see? [marked " Yes" ]
2. Have there currently been a few weeks when you felt nervous or depressed? [marked " Yes" ] 3. Have you ever tried to kill yourself? [marked " No" ] 4. Are you now thinking about hurting or killing yourself? [marked " No" ] 5. Are you currently taking any medication prescribed for you by a physician for any emotional or mental health problems? [marked " Yes" ] 6. Have you ever been in a hospital for emotional or mental health problems? [marked " No" ]
Id. at 329 (Mental Health Form, dated July 27, 2009). An explanatory note " Diag. Paranoid-Schizo" accompanies Mr. Jernegan's " [y]es" response to Question Five. Id.
This mental-health form indicated that further assessment should take place if, inter alia, an inmate answered " [y]es" to Question Five or Six, or if he answered " [y]es" to at least two of Questions One through Four. Mr. Jernegan's answers satisfied both criteria: that is, he answered " [y]es" to Question Five, representing that he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and he answered " [y]es" to Questions One and Two. However, there is no indication in the record that any Jail employee referred Mr. Jernegan to the facility's mental-health team for follow-up care.
Nurse Faye Taylor also performed a medical examination, using her own personal screening form. On that document, she noted Mr. Jernegan's representations to her that he had " had mental health treatment or hospitalization" for paranoid schizophrenia, that he had smoked marijuana, and that he was not suicidal. Id. at 603 (Healthcare Intake Screening Form, dated July 27, 2009). Ms. Taylor observed that Mr. Jernegan had regular vital signs and that he appeared normal and alert. She did not mark the " [r]eferral to health care facility" or " [r]eferral to provider" options on her form. Id. On the basis of these findings, Ms. Taylor recommended that Mr. Jernegan be assigned to the Jail's general population.
At 12:18 p.m. the next day (July 28, 2009), Mr. Jernegan filed a medical request through the Jail's computer " kiosk" communication system to report that he needed to " spe[a]k with someone about problems." Id. at 362 (Request, dated July 28, 2009) (capitalization altered). He received an automated response the day after that (July 29, 2009) at 10:07 a.m.; it said, " [y]ou will be place[d] on the Mental Health call out list for . . . July 30, 2009. Please give 48-72 hours from [the] time this was received to be seen, excluding Weekends and Holidays." Id.
Mr. Jernegan's Jail medical record revealed another relevant entry: a " Problem Oriented Record" entry dated July 30, 2009, at 8:00 a.m., which notes that healthcare employee Sara Sampson " [a]ttempted to see" Mr. Jernegan but learned that he had been moved to a different cellblock. Id. at 372 (Problem Oriented Record, dated July 30, 2009) (capitalization altered). Although the record does not confirm that Ms. Sampson actually visited Mr. Jernegan, supervising officers were apparently " satisfied that Sampson had performed her job as expected." Id. at 659 (Incident Report, dated Aug. 3, 2009). Shortly thereafter, at approximately 9:25 a.m. (on July 30), Nurses Robin Mason and Sara Jeffries were summoned to Mr. Jernegan's cellblock, having been informed that an inmate had hanged himself. When they arrived, they found Mr. Jernegan " still hanging from a make-shift noose and being cut down by detention staff." Id. at 468 (Mason Aff., dated Mar. 22, 2013). Mr. Jernegan had no palpable pulse and did not respond to resuscitative measures. He was subsequently pronounced dead at a local hospital.
After reviewing Mr. Jernegan's file, Ms. Mason " became suspicious" regarding the follow-up to his kiosk request. Id. More specifically, she was not confident of the...
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