887 F.2d 134 (8th Cir. 1989), 88-2330, Howard v. Adkison

Docket Nº:88-2330.
Citation:887 F.2d 134
Party Name:Frank HOWARD, Appellee, v. George ADKISON and Henry Jackson, Appellants.
Case Date:October 04, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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887 F.2d 134 (8th Cir. 1989)

Frank HOWARD, Appellee,


George ADKISON and Henry Jackson, Appellants.

No. 88-2330.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

October 4, 1989

Submitted March 16, 1989.

As Amended Nov. 15, 1989.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Nov. 15, 1989.

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Jerry L. Short, Jefferson City, Mo., for appellants.

George E. Wolf, III, Kansas City, Mo., for appellee.

Before JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge, and FLOYD R. GIBSON and HEANEY, Senior Circuit Judges.

JOHN R. GIBSON, Circuit Judge.

George Adkison and Henry Jackson, supervisory officers employed by the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Resources, appeal from a jury verdict holding them liable under Frank Howard's 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 claim of cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically, appellants argue

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that the district court 1 erred in submitting Howard's claims to the jury, that the jury was improperly instructed, that relevant evidence was improperly excluded, and that they enjoyed qualified immunity from Howard's claims in that their actions did not violate clearly established constitutional rights. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

This case concerns the conditions surrounding Howard's confinement in the Special Management Facility of the Missouri State Penitentiary, located in Jefferson City, Missouri. Howard was assigned to that unit over concerns for his safety, not for disciplinary purposes. According to Howard's testimony at trial, however, conditions inside the facility made the reassignment highly undesirable. He stated that the walls of his cell were covered with human waste, as were his door and food slot. His mattress was torn and stained with urine and human waste. Denied access to proper cleaning supplies, he was forced to use a sock and water from his face bowl to clean the filth from his cell. Howard testified that these conditions, along with a denial of proper laundry and barber privileges, continued during his two-year internment in the special facility.

Howard subsequently filed this section 1983 action against Adkison, the lieutenant supervising Howard's housing unit, Jackson, the special unit manager, William Armontrout, the penitentiary warden, and Dick Moore, Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Services. Each was claimed either to have directly subjected Howard to cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the eighth amendment, or to have acted with deliberate indifference to Howard's situation. Moore was dismissed from the suit prior to trial. The jury found the remaining defendants liable, awarding Howard $500 actual damages, $1 nominal damages, $750 punitive damages against Adkison, $1,000 punitive damages against Jackson, and $2,000 punitive damages against Armontrout. The district court set aside the verdict against Armontrout, but entered judgment against the remaining defendants. This appeal followed.


Appellants contend that the district court should have granted their motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, since Howard produced insufficient evidence to allow the jury to hear his claims. First, they argue that even if Howard's allegations are accepted as truthful, he did not demonstrate conditions of confinement that would violate the eighth amendment. Second, they claim that even assuming constitutional violations occurred, there was no basis for assigning them liability, since the evidence showed no personal involvement or knowledge on their part. In reviewing submissibility, we must view the evidence

in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

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We have interpreted the instruction to view the evidence favorably to the nonmovant as requiring the court to (1) resolve direct factual conflicts in favor of the nonmovant, (2) assume as true all facts supporting the nonmovant which the evidence tended to prove, (3) give the nonmovant the benefit of all reasonable inferences, and (4) deny the motion if the evidence so viewed would allow reasonable jurors to differ as to the conclusions that could be drawn.

Dace v. ACF Indus., 722 F.2d 374, 375 (8th Cir.1983) (citations omitted); see also Robertson Oil Co. v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 871 F.2d 1368, 1371 (8th Cir.1989); Craft v. Metromedia, Inc., 766 F.2d 1205, 1218 (8th Cir.1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1058, 106 S.Ct. 1285, 89 L.Ed.2d 592 (1986). Generally, only the evidence favoring the nonmoving party should be considered. Dace, 722 F.2d at 376.

Following this standard of review, we conclude that Howard sufficiently proved

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his conditions of confinement to have been cruel and unusual punishment within the meaning of the eighth amendment. As stated by the Supreme Court in Rhodes v. Chapman, 452 U.S. 337, 347, 101 S.Ct. 2392, 2399, 69 L.Ed.2d 59 (1981), the eighth amendment prohibits punishments that "deprive inmates of the minimal civilized measure of life's necessities." This includes the infliction of punishment "totally without penological justification." Martin v. White, 742 F.2d 469, 474 (8th Cir.1984). Any analysis of confinement conditions must be based on the totality of the circumstances. See Johnson v. Levine, 588 F.2d 1378, 1389 (4th Cir.1978) (per curiam); Williams v. Edwards, 547 F.2d 1206, 1211 (5th Cir.1977).

In this case, the jury was entitled to believe that Howard was placed in a cell covered with filth and human waste, including the food slot, in violation of the institution's own rules and...

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