871 F.2d 1030 (11th Cir. 1989), 88-8228, Waldrop v. Evans

Docket Nº:88-8228.
Citation:871 F.2d 1030
Party Name:Don WALDROP, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. David C. EVANS, et al., Defendants, Frank Fodor, M.D., T.G. Smith, M.D., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:April 28, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
 
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Page 1030

871 F.2d 1030 (11th Cir. 1989)

Don WALDROP, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

David C. EVANS, et al., Defendants,

Frank Fodor, M.D., T.G. Smith, M.D., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 88-8228.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 28, 1989

Page 1031

Michael E. Hobbs, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Cathy A. Cox, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, Ga., and Joseph H. Chambless, Harris, Watkins, Davis & Chambless, Emmitte H. Griggs, Macon, Ga., for defendants-appellants.

Charles A. Gower, Columbus, Ga., for plaintiffs-appellees.

Robert B. Remar, Remar & Graettinger, Atlanta, Ga., for amicus curiae, Marilyn Greeson, et al.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Before JOHNSON and CLARK, Circuit Judges, and VINSON, [*] District Judge.

Page 1032

JOHNSON, Circuit Judge:

This case arises on appeal from the district court's denial of defendants' motions for partial summary judgment based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. 681 F.Supp. 840. The parents of a state prison inmate brought suit against prison medical personnel under 42 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1983, alleging that the prison officials were deliberately indifferent to the inmate's psychiatric needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiffs also alleged two pendent state tort claims. The district court granted motions for summary judgment on the section 1983 claims as to all defendants except two. Those defendants, Drs. Fodor and Smith, appealed. We affirm the denial of their motions for summary judgment.

I. FACTS

In 1984, Timmy Waldrop pleaded guilty but mentally ill to armed robbery charges and was sentenced to a prison term of five to twenty years. On October 15, 1984, Waldrop was sent to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center ("GDCC") in Jackson, Georgia, for evaluation and treatment of his mental problems. At the time of his arrival at the GDCC, Waldrop had been diagnosed as manic depressive. His mental illness was being controlled with, among other medication, Lithium and Haldol, two drugs commonly used to control this type of disorder. Shortly after arrival, Waldrop was taken off all medication including Lithium.

Waldrop's mental condition deteriorated rapidly. He complained of nightmares, insomnia, and a generally poor mental condition. On November 1, 1984, Waldrop slashed his own forearm, requiring three stitches. On November 4, 1984, Waldrop enucleated or gouged out his left eye. GDCC personnel discovered the injury on November 5, and took Waldrop to the county hospital for emergency surgery. Once his physical injuries were treated, Waldrop was transferred to a new facility. On December 6, 1984, while at the Augusta Correctional and Medical Institution in Augusta, Georgia, Waldrop used a prison-issued razor blade to cut his scrotum, losing both testicles. On December 10, 1984, while under restraint in Augusta, Waldrop reached his right eye and damaged it so badly that he lost sight in that eye.

Plaintiffs, Waldrop's parents acting as his guardians, sued a variety of prison officials under 42 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1983, alleging that the doctors and staff who treated Waldrop were deliberately indifferent to his psychiatric needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Plaintiffs also asserted pendent state tort claims. The defendants were members of the medical and administrative staffs at both the GDCC and at the facility in Augusta. All defendants filed motions for summary judgment on the section 1983 claims based on the doctrine of qualified immunity. The district court granted the motions of all defendants except Drs. Fodor and Smith. Appellant Fodor is a psychiatrist under contract with the GDCC to treat patients one day a week and to be on call for emergencies. Fodor treated Waldrop for his psychiatric problems while Waldrop was incarcerated at the GDCC. Appellant Smith is a staff physician at the GDCC who is not a psychiatrist. Smith treated Waldrop for his physical problems while Waldrop was at the GDCC. Fodor and Smith's appeals are limited to the issue of qualified immunity. 1

II. DISCUSSION

Qualified immunity insulates government officials from personal liability for actions taken pursuant to their discretionary authority. In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738,

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73 L.Ed.2d 396 (1982), the Court established the test for courts to use in determining whether an official can claim qualified immunity: "[G]overnment officials ... generally are shielded [by the doctrine of qualified immunity] 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." The right must be sufficiently clear that "in light of preexisting law the unlawfulness [of the official's conduct] must be apparent." Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 3039, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987). Plaintiffs have the burden of showing that the officials violated such clearly established statutory or constitutional rights. See Zeigler v. Jackson, 716 F.2d 847, 849 (11th Cir.1983) (per curiam).

Courts evaluate an official's conduct under an objective, reasonable person standard. Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335, 345, 106...

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