887 F.2d 700 (6th Cir. 1989), 88-3969, Haynes v. Marshall

Docket Nº:88-3969.
Citation:887 F.2d 700
Party Name:Edna M. HAYNES, Individually as mother of Jimmy J. Haynes, deceased, and as administratrix of the estate of Jimmy J. Haynes, deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Ronald S. MARSHALL, et al., Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:October 12, 1989
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
 
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Page 700

887 F.2d 700 (6th Cir. 1989)

Edna M. HAYNES, Individually as mother of Jimmy J. Haynes,

deceased, and as administratrix of the estate of

Jimmy J. Haynes, deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Ronald S. MARSHALL, et al., Defendants-Appellants.

No. 88-3969.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

October 12, 1989

Argued June 13, 1989.

Page 701

Richard Saphire (argued), Susan Brenner, Dayton, Ohio, and Robert L. Gensler, Novato, Cal., for plaintiff-appellee.

Allen P. Adler, Asst. Atty. Gen. (argued), Office of the Atty. Gen. of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio and Steven P. Fixler, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Atty. Gen. Federal Litigation Section, Cincinnati, Ohio, for defendants-appellants.

Before KENNEDY, GUY and NORRIS, Circuit Judges.

ALAN E. NORRIS, Circuit Judge.

Defendants are prison officials and law enforcement personnel at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility ("SOCF") who were sued in their individual and official capacities for damages resulting from the death of an inmate, Jimmy J. Haynes. He died from injuries received while being moved from the prison infirmary to a security cell. Defendants appeal from the denial of their motions for summary judgment seeking qualified immunity from Haynes' claim under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983.

Page 702

Also involved is their appeal from the district court's decision to exercise pendent jurisdiction over Haynes' state-based wrongful death claim. For the following reasons, we affirm the summary judgment denying inmunity on the section 1983 claim, and vacate the order asserting pendent jurisdiction over the wrongful death claim.

I.

Haynes had a history of psychiatric problems and was required to take anti-psychotic medication, which, when properly administered, allowed him to be reasonably well-controlled; absent medication, he experienced episodes of violence.

On February 7, 1984, Haynes was transferred from his regular cell to the infirmary. According to the district judge, during the afternoon of February 9, 1984, "he began to act out, doing injury to himself and disrupting the activities of others." Prison officials ascertained that he needed medication that no one at the scene was authorized to administer.

One official, Lieutenant Stephenson, decided that Haynes should be moved from the infirmary to the strip cell, and enlisted the help of several officers. Over twelve officers eventually congregated, and there remains some dispute whether he "charged out," or whether the officers converged upon him. The district court found, nevertheless, that "[t]here is evidence, if believed, that while Haynes was shackled and on the floor, he was beaten with clubs about the head and body, taken to the strip cell, fatally injured and left unattended to die." That evidence includes deposition testimony indicating that, after Haynes was shackled and restrained, the officers beat him; that they continued to beat him while they dragged him to the strip cell; and that they beat him as he lay in a subdued condition in the strip cell. It was while in the strip cell that another officer allegedly placed his foot on Haynes' neck, applied his body weight, and inflicted the blow that led to his death. A member of the nursing staff eventually requested permission to administer medical treatment to Haynes, but she was too late and he was dead upon arrival at a local hospital.

Haynes' mother, as the administratrix of his estate, filed a complaint in the district court against various prison personnel in both their individual and official capacities. That complaint alleged a claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 for infliction of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It also alleged both negligent and intentional torts as well as wrongful death under state-based theories of liability. 1

Defendants moved for summary judgment claiming immunity from both the federal and state claims. In an order dated April 3, 1987, the district judge dismissed the state claims sounding in negligence and gross negligence finding a qualified immunity under Ohio law; however, he denied summary judgment on the claim of immunity from the section 1983 claim. Also in that order, he refused to accept pendent jurisdiction over the remaining state-based claim, a position he reversed upon reconsideration. 704 F.Supp. 788.

II.

Defendants ask us to reverse the district court's denial of their motions for summary judgment seeking immunity from plaintiff's section 1983 claim. An appeal from such a decision is an immediately appealable collateral order. Kennedy v. City of Cleveland, 797 F.2d 297, 299-300 (6th Cir.1986), cert. denied sub nom.

Page 703

Hanton v. Kennedy, 479 U.S. 1103, 107 S.Ct. 1334, 94 L.Ed.2d 185 (1987).

"[G]overnment officials performing discretionary functions generally 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). "[T]he right the official is alleged to have violated must have been 'clearly established' " in a particularized sense, Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640, 107 S.Ct. 3034, 3039, 97 L.Ed.2d 523 (1987); otherwise, "[p]laintiffs would be able to convert the rule of qualified immunity ... into a rule of virtually unqualified liability simply by alleging violation of extremely abstract rights." Id. For that reason

[t]he contours of the right must be sufficiently clear that a reasonable official would understand that what he is doing violates that right. This is not to say that an official action is protected by qualified immunity unless the very action in question has previously been held unlawful, but it is to say that in the light of preexisting law the unlawfulness must be apparent.

Id. at 639, 107 S.Ct. at 3038 (citations omitted).

Defendants concede that, at the time of Haynes' death, the Eighth Amendment prohibited the use of excessive force upon a prisoner. They suggest, however, that there was no clearly established standard by which to measure whether they used excessive force, until 1986 when the Supreme Court announced its opinion in Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 106 S.Ct. 1078, 89 L.Ed.2d 251 (1986). There, the Court...

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