863 F.2d 124 (1st Cir. 1988), 88-1116, Unwin v. Campbell

Docket Nº:88-1116, 88-1117.
Citation:863 F.2d 124
Party Name:Ronald UNWIN, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Police Officer Robert CAMPBELL, et al., Defendants, Appellees. State Trooper Mark Furlone and State Trooper John Ellsworth, Defendants, Appellants. Ronald UNWIN, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Police Officer Robert CAMPBELL, et al., Defendants, Appellants.
Case Date:December 09, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 124

863 F.2d 124 (1st Cir. 1988)

Ronald UNWIN, Plaintiff, Appellee,

v.

Police Officer Robert CAMPBELL, et al., Defendants, Appellees.

State Trooper Mark Furlone and State Trooper John Ellsworth,

Defendants, Appellants.

Ronald UNWIN, Plaintiff, Appellee,

v.

Police Officer Robert CAMPBELL, et al., Defendants, Appellants.

Nos. 88-1116, 88-1117.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

December 9, 1988

Heard June 8, 1988.

Page 125

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 126

Larry M. Smukler, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Civil Bureau, with whom Stephen E. Merrill, Atty. Gen., Concord, N.H., was on brief, for appellants State Trooper Mark Furlone and State Trooper John Ellsworth.

Robert A. Stein and Shaheen, Cappiello, Stein & Gordon, Concord, N.H., on brief, for Police Officer Robert Campbell, et al.

John G. Vanacore with whom Leahy, Vanacore, Nielsen & Trombly, Concord, N.H., was on brief, for Ronald Unwin.

Before CAMPBELL, Chief Judge, BREYER, Circuit Judge, and ACOSTA, [*] District Judge.

LEVIN H. CAMPBELL, Chief Judge.

This is an interlocutory appeal from the district court's denial of defendants' motions for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity. Defendants are state and local police officers who claim immunity from damages in this prison inmate's action against them brought under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 (1982). Notwithstanding the limits upon our appellate jurisdiction in an appeal of this nature, we hold that we may address the issues raised by defendants, and we affirm in part and reverse in part.

I. FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Taken in the light most favorable to plaintiff, the facts appearing from the summary judgment materials are as follows. Late in the evening of December 31, 1983, prison officials at the Merrimack County House of Corrections (the "prison"), located in Boscawen, New Hampshire, telephoned police agencies in the area for immediate assistance. About a dozen officers from several agencies responded, arriving at the prison around 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Among the responding officers were the six defendants-appellants (referred to collectively as "defendants" or "appellants"): Troopers Mark Furlone and John Ellsworth of the New Hampshire State Police, Officers Robert Campbell, James Curren, and Robert Terhune of the Franklin, New Hampshire, Police Department, and Officer Mark Sambatero of the Boscawen, New Hampshire, Police Department. Defendants and other responding officers then assembled outside the dayroom of the prison, where a dozen inmates had collected, awaiting orders from prison officials to enter the dayroom and place the inmates in their cells.

All the law enforcement officers had previously surrendered their firearms at the prison entrance. Officers Campbell and Curren brought their nightsticks with them

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when they entered the dayroom. The other defendants did not.

Plaintiff Ronald Unwin was a prison inmate. He had spent most of the day watching television and playing cards in the dayroom. Unwin went to the prison gym in the early evening. After this, he returned to the dayroom where he stood watching inmates play cards. Ronald Ballam, an inmate who had earlier been ordered to stay in his cell, came into the dayroom, picked up a chair, and threw it. Ballam was drunk. Another inmate, in an attempt to subdue Ballam, began wrestling with him. Suddenly, while Unwin was watching this fight, defendants and other law enforcement officials rushed into the dayroom. Before Unwin could turn around, he was struck from behind by something hard and fell to the floor. He was held with his face to the floor and struck repeatedly with nightsticks and fists. Unwin was then handcuffed and forcibly carried to a cell. He was forced into a corner of the cell near a toilet. Unwin struggled to get out of the corner. He was struck again, possibly more than once. After his handcuffs were removed, Unwin tried to punch one of the officials in his cell because he was "extremely angry." He is not sure if this punch made contact. Unwin was then slammed against the wall, placed face-up on the bed in the cell, and punched in the face. The officials retreated from the cell and locked the cell door. Unwin, upset by these events, kicked the cell door, yelled, and made obscene gestures at the officials. He was removed from the cell and placed in a padded cell. As a result of the events of this night, Unwin suffered severe contusions to the kidney, and various bruises and lacerations about his body and face.

Unwin subsequently brought this action seeking damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 alleging that defendants had subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment on the night of December 31, 1983. 1 As defendants, he named not only appellants but also the City of Franklin, the Town of Canterbury, Chief Harold Heath of Canterbury, the State of New Hampshire, State Trooper David Kelley, the Town of Webster, Chief Aime Roy and Officer Adam Roy of Webster, and the Town of Boscawen. After various motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, the district court dismissed the action against all except for appellants: Troopers Furlone and Ellsworth and Officers Campbell, Curren, Terhune, and Sambatero.

After a year of discovery, Troopers Furlone and Ellsworth and Officers Campbell and Terhune renewed their previous motions for summary judgment. Officers Curren and Sambatero also moved for summary judgment at that time. Defendants asserted that the undisputed facts gathered through discovery showed that they had not violated Unwin's Eighth Amendment rights and that, in the alternative, they were entitled to qualified immunity. The district court denied both the state troopers' motion and the local police officers' motion. The district court found that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding Unwin's Eighth Amendment claim and it denied that appellants were entitled to qualified immunity.

Appellants then appealed from the district court's orders denying them qualified immunity. Their main arguments are that the undisputed facts gathered through discovery show that they could not have violated clearly established law because they had no contact, or only minimal contact, with Unwin, or that any contact with him was no more than the result of their good faith efforts to quell a prison disturbance. Because, appellants say, the evidence gathered through discovery shows no genuine issue of material fact regarding their claims of qualified immunity, the district

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court erred in denying summary judgment in their favor.

An initial difficulty with appellants' argument is that, procedurally, it runs counter to this court's ruling in Bonitz v. Fair, 804 F.2d 164 (1st Cir.1986). If that decision still stands notwithstanding recent Supreme Court precedent, see infra, this court would be limited, in an interlocutory appeal from the denial of qualified immunity, to consideration of just those facts set out in the complaint. Id.

Both plaintiff and defendants ignored Bonitz in their briefs, but, at our request, they submitted supplemental memoranda on the subject after oral argument. Appellants now contend that, even under Bonitz, we should reverse the district court's denial of qualified immunity because the allegations in Unwin's complaint do not allege facts showing that defendants violated clearly established law. Defendants alternatively urge that--if we cannot resolve the qualified immunity question in their favor solely from the complaint--we should overrule Bonitz in light of Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987) and consider the undisputed facts gathered through discovery. If this is done, they say, their right to immunity will be apparent.

If our inquiry were to focus only on the allegations in Unwin's complaint, we would conclude--contrary to defendants' view--that defendants had violated clearly established law and thus were not qualifiedly immune. However, we hold that the restriction in Bonitz v. Fair, 804 F.2d 164, is no longer tenable in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Anderson v. Creighton, 107 S.Ct. 3034. Under Anderson, we have jurisdiction in an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a summary judgment motion made on grounds of qualified immunity, to consider all the materials that were properly before the lower court, including depositions, in connection with such motion. The question before us will be whether, in light of those materials, the district court erred in finding a genuine issue of material fact as to defendants' entitlement to qualified immunity. After considering the record here, we conclude that defendants Furlone and Campbell should have been granted summary judgment on account of qualified immunity by the lower court, but that as to Ellsworth, Curren, Terhune, and Sambatero there remains a genuine issue of material fact concerning their entitlement to qualified immunity.

II. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

As a general rule, government officials performing discretionary functions are "shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as 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, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738, 73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982) (citations omitted). A court must look to the "objective reasonableness of an official's conduct, as measured by reference to clearly established law," to determine whether the doctrine of qualified immunity applies. Id.

This case involves the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court has applied this prohibition to prison conditions: prison "[c]onditions must not involve the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain, nor may they be grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime warranting...

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68 practice notes
  • 967 F.2d 73 (2nd Cir. 1992), 674, Covino v. Patrissi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • June 17, 1992
    ...manner and in presence of male officers, violated inmates' fourth amendment rights), overruled on other grounds by Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 (1st Cir.1988). Based upon Arenz's testimony, the magistrate judge reported that the subject searches conducted pursuant to Procedure 300.1......
  • 736 F.Supp. 793 (N.D.Ill. 1990), 89 C 1478, Makray v. Sara Lee Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Northern District of Illinois
    • February 20, 1990
    ...interpretation of the [collective bargaining agreement] is required to determine the reasonableness of the random drug testing. Jackson, 863 F.2d at 124 (emphasis The dissent's summary of the majority opinion succinctly demonstrates the consequences of addressing the merits of the state law......
  • 794 F.Supp. 451 (D. Puerto Rico 1992), Civ. 85-1114, Gaztambide v. Gaztambide
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • May 20, 1992
    ...circuit opinions have affirmed this interpretation of Kaiter. Zayas-Green v. Casaine, 906 F.2d 18, 22 (1st Cir. 1990); Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 n. 5 (1st Cir. 1988) ("[R]egardless of the number of immunity motions made at various stages of a case in the district court, only......
  • 50 F.3d 61 (1st Cir. 1995), 94-2077, Lowinger v. Broderick
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
    • March 22, 1995
    ...v. Massachusetts, 884 F.2d 19, 22 (1st Cir.1989); Mariani-Giron v. Acevedo-Ruiz, 877 F.2d 1114, 1120 (1st Cir.1988); Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 (1st Cir.1989). If the district court was in error in denying summary judgment, permitting the immediate appeal of such denials avoids su......
  • Free signup to view additional results
67 cases
  • 967 F.2d 73 (2nd Cir. 1992), 674, Covino v. Patrissi
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
    • June 17, 1992
    ...manner and in presence of male officers, violated inmates' fourth amendment rights), overruled on other grounds by Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 (1st Cir.1988). Based upon Arenz's testimony, the magistrate judge reported that the subject searches conducted pursuant to Procedure 300.1......
  • 736 F.Supp. 793 (N.D.Ill. 1990), 89 C 1478, Makray v. Sara Lee Corp.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 7th Circuit Northern District of Illinois
    • February 20, 1990
    ...interpretation of the [collective bargaining agreement] is required to determine the reasonableness of the random drug testing. Jackson, 863 F.2d at 124 (emphasis The dissent's summary of the majority opinion succinctly demonstrates the consequences of addressing the merits of the state law......
  • 794 F.Supp. 451 (D. Puerto Rico 1992), Civ. 85-1114, Gaztambide v. Gaztambide
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 1st Circuit District of Puerto Rico
    • May 20, 1992
    ...circuit opinions have affirmed this interpretation of Kaiter. Zayas-Green v. Casaine, 906 F.2d 18, 22 (1st Cir. 1990); Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 n. 5 (1st Cir. 1988) ("[R]egardless of the number of immunity motions made at various stages of a case in the district court, only......
  • 50 F.3d 61 (1st Cir. 1995), 94-2077, Lowinger v. Broderick
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
    • March 22, 1995
    ...v. Massachusetts, 884 F.2d 19, 22 (1st Cir.1989); Mariani-Giron v. Acevedo-Ruiz, 877 F.2d 1114, 1120 (1st Cir.1988); Unwin v. Campbell, 863 F.2d 124, 132 (1st Cir.1989). If the district court was in error in denying summary judgment, permitting the immediate appeal of such denials avoids su......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Supremely qualified - Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
    • United States
    • Corrections Today Vol. 57 Nbr. 5, August 1995
    • August 1, 1995
    ...to Cortes-Quinones' health and safety and ruled a qualified immunity defense was not available to prison officials. In Unwin v. Campbell (863 F.2d 124 [1988]), he was confronted with a case that dealt with similar issues. This time he used a previous U.S. Supreme Court case, Anderson v. Cre......