866 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2017), 16-2184, Jackson v. Gutzmer

Docket Nº:16-2184
Citation:866 F.3d 969
Opinion Judge:LOKEN, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee v. Jeff Gutzmer, Defendant - Appellant
Attorney:For Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee: Adam W. Hansen, APOLLO LAW LLC, Minneapolis, MN; Tiffany A. Sanders, FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION, Minneapolis, MN. Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee, Pro se, Stillwater, MN. For Jeff Gutzmer, in his individual capacity, Defendant - Appellant: Rachel Bell, ...
Judge Panel:Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 10, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
SUMMARY

Plaintiff filed suit against correctional officers and medical staff under 42 U.S.C. 1983, after he spent three and a half hours on a restraint board. The district court dismissed all claims except an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Lieutenant Jeff Gutzmer, who authorized use of the restraint board. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court erred as a matter of law when it... (see full summary)

 
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866 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2017)

Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee

v.

Jeff Gutzmer, Defendant - Appellant

No. 16-2184

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 10, 2017

Submitted March 9, 2017.

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Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee: Adam W. Hansen, APOLLO LAW LLC, Minneapolis, MN; Tiffany A. Sanders, FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION, Minneapolis, MN.

Ronnie Jackson, Plaintiff - Appellee, Pro se, Stillwater, MN.

For Jeff Gutzmer, in his individual capacity, Defendant - Appellant: Rachel Bell, Assistant Attorney General, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Saint Paul, MN; Lindsay Strauss, ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE, Saint Paul, MN.

Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

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LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

After a disturbance resulted in Minnesota inmate Ronnie Jackson spending three-and-one-half hours on a restraint board, Jackson filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against correctional officers and medical staff of the Oak Park Heights maximum security prison. Defendants moved for summary judgment, and the district court dismissed all claims except an Eighth Amendment excessive force claim against Lieutenant Jeff Gutzmer, who authorized use of the restraint board. Gutzmer appeals the denial of summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Reviewing that issue de novo and the facts in the light most favorable to Jackson, we reverse. See Burns v. Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1138 (8th Cir. 2014).

I

.

A . Convicted of arson, Jackson was admitted to the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud in November 2012. An initial psychiatric assessment reflected his self-reported history of 28 suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts, hearing voices to harm himself and others, cutting himself, depression, and anxiety. The assessment

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also related violent episodes including stabbing his school principal with scissors and striking his fiancé with a bottle. The examining doctor diagnosed Jackson with depression, borderline personality disorder with possible dissociative episodes, and alcohol dependency.

During Jackson's first week at the St. Cloud facility, he violated multiple rules, including threatening others, possessing a weapon, and assaulting correctional staff. The weapon possession violation was a major infraction. Jackson also reported that voices were telling him to slit his cellmate's throat. The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) transferred Jackson to the Oak Park Heights maximum security facility, placed him on disciplinary segregation status, and assigned him to the Administrative Control Unit (ACU). Designed to protect inmates from themselves and others and to maintain orderly prison operations, the ACU is the most secure prison living unit in Minnesota. ACU inmates are confined to their cells for twenty-three hours per day and allowed only limited personal property. To receive medical attention, an ACU inmate can submit a written " kite" for a medical visit; for emergency life-threatening situations, an inmate can press a duress button in his cell.

While at Oak Park Heights, Jackson was sent repeatedly to ACU or to Complex 5, a segregation unit for less threatening inmates or those with shorter segregation sentences. He was convicted of more than twenty rule violations, including assaulting staff, disorderly conduct, threatening behavior, disobeying direct orders, abuse or harassment, and destruction of prison property. In one incident, Jackson refused to return to his cell, kicked a responding officer in the thigh, and threatened that " whoever put hands on me is going to die."

In a November 2013 incident, after scheduling a medical visit for neck pain, Jackson told a correctional officer that he had swallowed a razor blade, triggering an Incident Command System (ICS) call for a self-injurious inmate. A doctor responded and evaluated Jackson's complaint of chest, arm, and neck pain. He was then placed in a Complex 5 cell. A few hours later, he covered his cell camera with plastic lining from his mattress, refused directives to come to the door to be placed in restraints, and stated he was going to " get to ACU by doing whatever it takes." The next day, while staff removed the mattress, Jackson spat in the eye of a correctional officer. For these violations, Jackson was placed in the ACU for 540 days of segregation and given 180 days of extended incarceration. Jackson resided in the ACU until April 2014, when ACU inmates were moved to Complex 5 because of ACU construction.

B. The events giving rise to this lawsuit occurred on May 13, 2014. We relate facts stated in Jackson's Declaration In Opposition to Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment. Around 7:20 a.m. that morning, Jackson declared, he informed a non-defendant correctional officer he was not feeling well, but it was not serious enough for medical attention. By noon, he was experiencing severe chest pains, nausea, shortness of breath, and vomiting, side effects he attributed to a depression medication, Effexor. Over the next hour and a half, Jackson tried to get medical attention by notifying a nurse and a correctional officer and by pushing his emergency duress button at three different times. At 1:38 p.m., thinking his medical situation was " dire," Jackson grabbed a " grease container" in his cell and began to knock on the door to alert staff of his medical needs. Then, Jackson declared: For several minutes I was knocking on my door with the grease container, [and] at approximately 1:40 p.m. my neighbors . . . began asking me what was going on and why I was knocking on

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my door. My neighbors (I believe) had been hearing me ask for medical assistance. I explain to them the situation and tell them I need 'help' and they began hitting their doors trying to get the attention of the staff.

For approximately 5 minutes staff completely ignore the noise . . . [until defendant Sergeant Donn] Weber finally heads towards [my cell] and all inmates stop hitting their doors. . . . Weber walks directly to my door, I attempt to stand and speak with him but my chest contracts painfully hard and I cry out in pain, and in my weakened state, slide down the inside of my door . . . . I see [Sergeant] Weber . . . activating an ICS response . . . for a self-injurious inmate. I was not hurting myself.1

Lieutenant Gutzmer, responsible for supervising the ACU until 3:00 p.m. that day, responded to Weber's ICS call for a self-injurious inmate. Though it is...

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