Williams v. Mehra, Cabrera, Rodriguez, 97-1118

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBOGGS; KEITH; MERRITT; Breyer's; Boggs'
Citation186 F.3d 685
Parties(6th Cir. 1999) Ruth Ann Williams, Personal Representative of the Estate of Anthony Wade, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. T.N. Mehra; Dr. Cabrera; Dr. Rodriguez, Defendants-Appellants, John Jabe, Warden; Gerald Hofbauer, Deputy Warden; John Fisher, Security Guard; Jane Doe, Nurse, Defendants. Argued:
Docket NumberNo. 97-1118,97-1118
Decision Date23 September 1998

Page 685

186 F.3d 685 (6th Cir. 1999)
Ruth Ann Williams, Personal Representative of the Estate of Anthony Wade, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellee,
T.N. Mehra; Dr. Cabrera; Dr. Rodriguez, Defendants-Appellants,
John Jabe, Warden; Gerald Hofbauer, Deputy Warden; John Fisher, Security Guard; Jane Doe, Nurse, Defendants.
No. 97-1118
Argued: September 23, 1998
Decided and Filed: August 4, 1999

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit, No. 95-70665--John Feikens, District Judge.

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Copyrighted Material Omitted

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Marvin L. Bromley, Office of the Attorney General of Michigan, Mental Health Division, Thomas L. Casey, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, APPELLATE DIVISION, Erica Weiss Marsden, Office of the Attorney General, Social Services Division, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellants.

James W. McGinnis, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellee.

E. Michael Stafford, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Corrections Division, Lansing, Michigan, for Defendants.


BOGGS, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which KENNEDY, NELSON, RYAN, NORRIS, SUHRHEINRICH, SILER, BATCHELDER, and GILMAN, JJ., joined. KEITH, J. (pp. 693-95), delivered a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which MARTIN, C. J., DAUGHTREY, MOORE, COLE, and CLAY, JJ., joined. MERRITT, J. (pp. 695-97), delivered a separate opinion dissenting in part and concurring in part.


BOGGS, Circuit Judge.

Anthony Wade committed suicide while incarcerated at the State Prison of Southern Michigan ("SPSM") following his conviction for murder and obstruction of justice. He killed himself by overdosing on the anti-depressant Sinequan (Doxepine), which the prison psychiatric staff had prescribed for him. Kameshwari Mehra,1 Numa Cabrera, and Luis Rodriguez were prison psychiatrists who treated Wade at SPSM. Wade's mother, Ruth Williams, sued the Defendants for alleged violations of Wade's Eighth Amendment right to necessary medical care. Defendants asserted qualified immunity as an affirmative defense and moved for summary judgment. The district court dismissed the claims against Jabe and Hofbauer on the ground that they had no personal involvement in or knowledge of Wade's treatment and, therefore, could not be held liable for the alleged constitutional violations. The district court also granted summary judgment for Defendants-Appellants as to Williams's negligent supervision claim. However, the district court denied summary judgment for Defendants-Appellants as to Williams's deliberate indifference claim.

Mehra, Cabrera, and Rodriguez again moved for summary judgment, asserting qualified immunity. The district court denied the motion. Defendants-Appellants sought review of the district court's decision. A panel of this court affirmed the decision of the district court with respect

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to Cabrera and Rodriguez, and reversed the decision of the district court with respect to Mehra. This court granted rehearing en banc and holds that all three Defendants-Appellants are entitled to qualified immunity.


The facts of this case were set forth in detail in the panel's opinion and dissent. See Williams v. Mehra, 135 F.3d 1105 (6th Cir. 1998). Wade was held in the Wayne County, Michigan, jail ("WCJ") from April 24, 1992 until August 20, 1993, several days before he was sentenced. He was depressed throughout this period, and was prescribed Thorazine to manage his symptoms. In December 1992, Wade attempted suicide by taking twenty Thorazine tablets that he had hoarded from his daily dosage. There is no allegation, nor evidence, that the administration of the pills to Wade was monitored to prevent hoarding. WCJ officials then switched Wade to liquid medication to prevent hoarding, and scheduled additional therapy sessions. Wade's condition continued to worsen, and in February 1993 he was transferred to Northfield Regional Psychiatric Hospital ("NRPH"). Doctors at NRPH prescribed Sinequan liquid, and Wade's condition improved. Upon his return to WCJ, Wade was continued on Sinequan liquid. There is no evidence that the administration of the Sinequan to Wade was monitored.

On August 20, 1993, Wade was transferred to SPSM to begin his sentence. SPSM received Wade's Pre-Sentence Investigation Report ("PSI") and the WCJ Discharge Planning-Referral Form ("PRF"). The PSI indicated that Wade had psychiatric problems and that he had attempted suicide by hoarding pills. The PRF indicated that Wade suffered from major depression with psychotic features and had repeated suicide thoughts. The PRF also listed Wade's medications as Sinequan liquid, lithium citrate, and Prolixin HCL. That same day, Wade was seen by a nurse at SPSM. He completed a health form, stating that he heard voices and that he was currently taking Thorazine. The nurse called WCJ and confirmed that Wade was taking Sinequan at bedtime rather than Thorazine.

On August 25, 1993, Wade was seen by a psychologist. A written test indicated that he was suffering from depression. On August 30, 1993, another psychologist examined Wade. Her report described Wade's suicide attempt and indicated that he was "a moderate potential risk for suicide." That same day, Mehra interviewed Wade. His report recommended that Wade be maintained on Sinequan tablets at bedtime for thirty days and then reevaluated. Mehra did not see Wade again. SPSM administered Wade's medication in a "pill line"--an arrangement in which each patient in turn receives medication from a nurse and takes it while the nurse watches. The pill line is designed to guard against pill hoarding.

On September 3, 1993, Wade was placed in the general prison population and scheduled for monthly appointments with Dr. Cabrera. On September 14, 1993, Cabrera saw Wade for the first time. He observed that Wade appeared depressed, noted that he denied having suicidal ideation, and increased his dose of Sinequan. On October 6, 1993, Cabrera saw Wade again and observed that Wade was scared that he might attempt suicide again, but that he had no plan to do so. Dr. Cabrera decided to switch Wade to another antidepressant, Asendin, and prescribed both combined for a month.

Wade was subsequently transferred to another cell block and to a different doctor, Dr. Rodriguez. On October 13, 1993, Dr. Rodriguez saw Wade and noted that suicidal thoughts had crossed Wade's mind, but that Wade denied that he would harm himself. A psychologist saw Wade on October 18, 1993 and November 1, 1993. He noted that Wade continued to be depressed and had some suicidal ideation. On November 2, 1993, Wade saw Dr. Cabrera again and stated that he didn't have

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suicidal thoughts "that often." Cabrera's assessment was "improved?". On November 15, 1993, Dr. Rodriguez saw Wade again and observed that he had no suicidal thoughts.

On November 22, 1993, Wade again saw the psychologist he had seen on October 18 and November 1, who reported that Wade said he still felt as if he wanted to kill himself. On November 28, 1993, Wade killed himself with an overdose of Sinequan tablets that he had hoarded despite the precaution of the pill line.


We review a grant or denial of summary judgment de novo, using the same Rule 56(c) standard as the district court. Cox v. Kentucky Department of Transportation, 53 F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Hansard v. Barrett, 980 F.2d 1059 (6th Cir. 1992)). Summary judgment is appropriate where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, we view the factual evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. National Enterprises v. Smith, 114 F.3d 561, 563 (6th Cir. 1997). To prevail, the non-movant must show sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact. Klepper v. First Am. Bank, 916 F.2d 337, 341-42 (6th Cir. 1990) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). A mere scintilla of evidence is insufficient; "there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-movant]." Ibid. (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986)). Entry of summary judgment is appropriate "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

We review mixed questions of law and fact de novo. Pullman Standard v. Swint, 456 U.S. 273, 287-88 (1982); United States v. Francis, 170 F.3d 546, 549 (6th Cir. 1999); United States v. Hazime, 762 F.2d 34, 37 (6th Cir. 1985). Lower court findings of ultimate facts based upon the application of legal principles to subsidiary facts are subject to de novo review. Whitney v. Brown, 882 F.2d 1068, 1071 (6th Cir. 1989); Taylor and Gaskin, Inc. v. Chris-Craft Indus., 732 F.2d 1273, 1277 (6th Cir. 1984).

A. Jurisdiction

Under 28 U.S.C. 1291, we have jurisdiction to hear an appeal only from a "final decision" of the district court. The Supreme Court held that "a district court's denial of a claim of qualified immunity, to the extent that it turns on an issue of law, is an appealable 'final decision' within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. 1291 notwithstanding the absence of a final judgment." Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 530 (1985). The Court restated the Forsyth standard in 1995, holding that a denial of summary judgment is appealable if (1) the defendant is a public official asserting...

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