Senty-Haugen v. Goodno, 06-1086.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Citation462 F.3d 876
Docket NumberNo. 06-1086.,06-1086.
PartiesArthur Dale SENTY-HAUGEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Kevin GOODNO, Michael Tessner, Larry Tebrake, Jerry Zimmerman, Steve Huot, Dr. David Paulson, Tom Kramer, Dara Johnson, Paula Johnson, Lori Parkos, Deborah Konieska, Jim Lind, Barry Anderson, Al Langhorst, Brian Nieneman, Brett Skog, Mary Eckstine, Kurt Eckstine, Carol Roback, Lorilee Aldrin, Mary Long, Mary Lichtenberg, Pam Bidelman, Dean Mooney, Randy Valentine, Richard O'Connor, Robert Rose, Mary Lou Foss-Salo, John Doe, Jane Roe, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date11 September 2006

Jordan S. Kushner, argued, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.

W. Karl Hansen, AAG, argued, St. Paul, Minnesota, for appellee.

Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.

MURPHY, Circuit Judge.

Arthur Dale Senty-Haugen was committed as a sexual psychopathic personality and sexually dangerous person to the custody of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (Offender Program). Senty-Haugen brought this action against the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, other officials of the department, and employees of the Offender Program, alleging violations of federal and state law for being placed in isolation, receiving inadequate medical attention, and being retaliated against. The district court1 granted summary judgment to the defendants, and Senty-Haugen appeals. We affirm.


In 1996 Senty-Haugen was indefinitely committed as a sexual psychopathic personality and sexually dangerous person, pursuant to Minnesota Statute § § 253B.02, subds. 18b, 18c; 253B.185, and was placed in the custody of the Offender Program.2 The Offender Program operates at two Minnesota sites, one in St. Peter and the other in Moose Lake. Defendant Michael Tessner is the Chief Executive Officer of State Operated Services, the Department of Human Services division that administers and oversees the Offender Program.

The Offender Program is responsible for providing treatment to several hundred patients3 in the State of Minnesota who have been committed to its custody. A patient is committed to the Offender Program if the state district court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the patient is a sexual psychopathic personality and sexually dangerous person evidencing "an utter lack of power to control . . . sexual impulses" and who "is likely to engage in acts of harmful sexual conduct." Minn.Stat. §§ 253B.02, subds. 18b, 18c; 253B.18, subd. 1. Patients can seek release from the program by filing for provisional or full discharge to a special review board that makes recommendations to the Commissioner of Human Services. Minn.Stat. § 253B.18, subds. 4c, 5. A patient aggrieved by the Commissioner's decision may petition a judicial appeal panel for rehearing, Minn.Stat. § 253B.19, subd. 2, and later the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Minn.Stat. § 253B.19, subd. 5.

The Offender Program has promulgated Minnesota Sex Offender Program Procedures to govern patients committed to its custody. If a patient is suspected of breaking a rule, an operational team of at least two staff members meets to determine whether a violation has occurred and what consequences to impose. A patient facing behavioral restrictions is permitted to attend the operational team meeting. Operational teams impose level B restrictions for rule violations that do not have the potential to harm the patient or others and level A restrictions for conduct that does have the potential to cause harm. A patient on Level B restrictions is restricted from walking to outer portions of the facility, visiting other rooms, purchasing outside food, or using non essential community items. Patients on Level A restrictions receive additional limitations on telephone calls and areas they can visit. Patients can file grievances challenging the imposition of their restrictions to the unit director, patient advocate, and director. Patients can also seek review by the advisory hospital review board.

The Department of Human Resources has promulgated Minnesota Rule 9515.3090 to authorize Offender Program staff to place patients in protective isolation "as a way of defusing or containing dangerous behavior that is uncontrollable by any other means." subp. 4. The use of protective isolation is never to be used "for the convenience of staff or as a substitute for programming", and treatment must be available during protective isolation "to the extent that the person's behavior and condition make treatment possible." Id. at subps. 4A, 4B. The Rule limits protective isolation to 48 hours unless there is a statement from a treatment team to the medical director that continued protective isolation is necessary and the medical director has consented to continued placement in protective isolation. Id. at subp. 4C. A patient in protective isolation is permitted to seek review of the decision by a panel of at least three persons who were not participants in the decision to impose isolation and to request that the chief officer of the facility review the review panel's decision. Id. at subp. 5A-D. A patient is permitted to "present to the review panel evidence and argument to explain why protective isolation is unwarranted." Id. at subp. 5C.

The Offender Program has implemented its own Minnesota Sex Offender Program Procedure governing the use of protective isolation. In addition to the requirements of Rule 9515.3090, the internal procedures require that a patient receive a copy of a protective isolation assessment report within 2 hours of being placed there, that a protective isolation review panel and clinical director approve any decision by the assessment team to keep a patient for more than 48 hours, and that use of protective isolation for more than 7 days must be approved by the clinical director prior to the end of each 7 day period. Patients are permitted to appeal a review panel decision to the program director who is to appoint an appeal panel consisting of two objective persons. The internal procedures also require that protective isolation be limited to 7 consecutive days unless the use of isolation is reviewed by the hospital review board. Formal rules of evidence do not apply to the hospital review board meeting, but the patient is permitted to question any person appearing before the board. The clinical director is required to respond in writing to the review board's recommendation and state in writing the reasons for modifying or rejecting any recommendation.

The Offender Program has also formulated a grievance procedure enabling patients to express and resolve complaints. The procedure allows patients to file grievances and requires staff to respond to all grievances as soon as possible and generally within 3 business days. Patients seeking further review of their grievance may forward their grievance to the patient advocate who can forward it to the hospital review board, office of the ombudsman for mental health and retardation, office of health facility complaints, or the Department of Human Rights. Patients also maintain the right to contact the hospital review board, the office of the ombudsman, the office of health facility complaints, and the Department of Human Services Civil Rights Department.


Prior to being admitted to the Offender Program in 1996, Senty-Haugen had been incarcerated in a state prison for criminal sexual conduct. In 1999 he was returned to prison after being convicted of fraud and theft crimes committed while he was a patient in the Offender Program. When he was released from prison in May 2002, he returned to the Offender Program facility in St. Peter for continuing treatment.

At the time Senty-Haugen was readmitted to St. Peter, he reported with a number of medical conditions, including coronary artery disease, hypertension, and hemorrhoids. On August 1, 2002, he told a nurse that he had been experiencing chest pains and that a nitroglycerin tablet taken at 1:45 a.m. had not helped. The nurse gave him additional tablets and notified a doctor, who requested that an ambulance take him to the hospital. At 2:38 a.m. staff could not locate a pulse, but they were able to resuscitate him with oxygen. The ambulance arrived at 3:00 a.m. and took him to the hospital. He was then airlifted to Minneapolis where he was given a coronary and left ventricular angiogram. The results were negative, and he was taken back to St. Peter that day.

Senty-Haugen committed numerous disciplinary infractions at St. Peter. On January 23, 2003 he was found in violation of Offender Program regulations which limit the amount of money a patient can possess to $71 (he had given a taxi driver $225 to deliver to a bondsman). As a result, an operational team meeting was convened and staff searched his room. They found marijuana and a cell phone, both of which were prohibited by Offender Program policies. After Senty-Haugen tested positive for marijuana use, an operational team imposed 105 days of Level A restrictions in addition to the 90 days that had been imposed because of the other rule infractions.4

In the summer of 2003 staff grew concerned that he had been financially exploiting an elderly patient (Patient X), and Unit Director Gary Grimm decided to transfer Patient X to a different room to reduce his contact with Senty-Haugen. Senty-Haugen was a member of the Resident Advisory Council, and he organized other patients in resistance to the transfer, relying on a provision in the Minnesota Patients Bill of Rights that requires health care facilities to provide patients 7 days notice of a room transfer unless the transfer is done for circumstances outside of the facility's control. Because of the patient resistance Grimm decided to delay the room transfer. Six days later he was assaulted when he was asleep at his home and beaten with a baseball bat.

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