Jones v. Gilbert
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge L Scott Coogler on 6/8/2018. (PSM)
2018 Jun-08 AM 10:50
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
) Case No. 2:15-cv-02120-LSC-SGC
LT. GILBERT and
Pro se Plaintiff Robert Jones filed two amended complaints pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his civil rights. (Doc. 9, 11). Plaintiff names
Lieutenant Joel Gilbert and Sergeant Clifton Thrasher as defendants in the
amended complaints. (Id.). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages and injunctive
relief. On May 10, 2018, the magistrate judge to whom the amended complaints
were referred entered a report pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), recommending
Defendants’ special report, treated as a motion for summary judgment, be granted
and the action dismissed. (Doc. 23). Plaintiff timely filed objections to the report
and recommendation. (Doc. 24).
In his objections, Plaintiff expresses difficulty understanding the meaning of
the words “undersigned,” “movant,” and “moving party,” as well as the phrase
“govern the resolution” as used in the report and recommendation. (Id. at 1).
Plaintiff is advised that “undersigned” refers to the judge who signed the report and
recommendation – in this case, United States Magistrate Judge Staci G. Cornelius.
The “movant” or “moving party” refers to the party filing the motion for summary
judgment. Here, the movants/moving parties are Lt. Gilbert and Sgt. Thrasher.
The phrase “govern the resolution” informs the parties that Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56 sets out a legal standard the court must apply when considering
whether a motion for summary judgment should be granted or denied.
Keeping in mind Plaintiff’s difficulty understanding the terminology in the
report and recommendation, the court construes his objections liberally. Plaintiff
argues Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is due to be denied. (Id.). He
agrees with the magistrate judge’s recitation of the general elements of the due
process standard applicable to inmates subjected to involuntary psychotropic
medication. (Id. at 2-3). Plaintiff also admits he had an “inmate attack” and
“command hallucinations,” two bases of Dr. St. Phard’s request for involuntary
medication. (Doc. 24 at 1). Additionally, Plaintiff does not deny he started a fire
and threatened others and contends he suffers from “continued manifestations,” all
as St. Phard reported in his request. (Doc. 15-8 at 16; Doc. 24 at 1).
Nevertheless, Plaintiff asks why “they do me like this?” and declares Nurse
Click “repeatedly desired medications” and found “grounds to continue to
involuntarily” administer him medication. (Doc. 24 at 2). Plaintiff focuses on the
significant liberty interest he has in freedom from involuntary psychotropic
medication. While he agrees the due process clause allows prison officials to
involuntarily medicate him if he is a danger to himself or others, he argues officials
should leave him alone, “lock [him] behind a door,” and only give him the
medication if he wants to come out of his cell. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that because
he did not desire to leave his cell on October 18, 2015, Gilbert and Thrasher
violated his right to due process by depriving him of his choice to refuse his
medication. (Doc. 15-8 at 37; Doc. 24 at 2).
Plaintiff misunderstands the rights due him as a result of his liberty interest
in remaining free from involuntary psychotropic medication. Plaintiff’s liberty
interest does not equate with a right to refuse medication as long as he remains
locked in his cell when there is a constitutionally sound order to involuntarily
administer the medication. Instead, his liberty interest affords him the right to:
written notice of a mental health professional’s request for involuntary medication;
a hearing before a neutral committee who will decide whether to grant or deny the
request; adequate notice of that hearing; present evidence at the hearing to the
committee which shows involuntary medication is not necessary for safety reasons
and is not in his medical interest; challenge any evidence suggesting his
involuntary medication is necessary for safety reasons and is in his medical
interest. See Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 221-22, 233-234 (1990).
The procedure utilized by the Alabama Department of Corrections exceeds
the procedural protections Washington requires.
That procedure also affords
Plaintiff a staff advisor to assist him at the hearing, the right to a written copy of
committee’s decision, and the right to appeal the decision with a staff advisor’s
Plaintiff must use these procedures to challenge any request to
involuntarily medicate him.
Additionally, regarding Lt. Gilbert and Sgt. Thrasher, Plaintiff incorrectly
claims they forcibly medicated him. The mental health professionals involved in
the request or decision to involuntarily medicate him are responsible for his
forcible medication. As corrections officers, Defendants Gilbert and Thrasher did
not participate in the request or decision to forcibly medicate Plaintiff, nor did they
administer any medication to him on October 18, 2015. (Doc. 9 at 3). On that
date, Nurse Click administered the medication pursuant to a constitutionally sound
involuntary medication order (i.e., an order achieved after the plaintiff was
afforded due process) which became effective on June 4, 2015, and pursuant to
Nurse Practitioner Coogan’s order. (Doc. 15-1 at 2; Doc. 15-8 at 2, 20, 37).
In conclusion, having carefully reviewed and considered de novo all the
materials in the court file, including the report and recommendation and the
objections thereto, the magistrate judge’s report is ADOPTED and the
recommendation is ACCEPTED.
Accordingly, finding no genuine issue of
material fact, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. (Doc.
15). A separate final order will be entered.
DONE and ORDERED on June 8, 2018.
L. Scott Coogler
United States District Judge
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