Garza et al v. Yuma County et al
ORDER AND OPINION, granting the 226 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Yuma County Jail District, Ralph E Ogden and Michael McGregor; the claims against the County, Ogden, and McGregor are dismissed. Signed by Judge John W Sedwick on 11/22/11.(REW) Modified on 11/22/2011 to add omitted text (REW).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
M.M., et al.,
YUMA COUNTY, et al.,
ORDER AND OPINION
[Re: Motion at Docket 226]
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 226, defendants Yuma County Jail District (“the County”), Ralph E.
Ogden (“Ogden”), and Michael McGregor (“McGregor”) (collectively “defendants”) move
for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Plaintiffs M.M.,
Ashley Ingraham (“Ingraham”), and Alex Garza (“Garza”) oppose the motion at
docket 246. Defendants’ reply is at docket 259. Oral argument was requested but
would not assist the court.
This lawsuit arises out of the premature birth of M.M. Ingraham is M.M.’s mother
and Garza is M.M.’s father. Ogden was the Sheriff of Yuma County. McGregor was the
commander at the Yuma County Detention Center. Ingraham was taken into custody at
the Yuma County Detention Center on September 7, 2006.
Ingraham was examined at intake by Elanor Snyder (“Snyder”), an employee of
Northend Health Associates (“Northend”), which contracted to provide medical services
at the jail. She informed Snyder that she was pregnant, suffered from bipolar disorder,
and was taking medication. Ingraham was given prenatal vitamins.
The following day, at 10:39 a.m., Ingraham was examined by defendant Kindra
Gonzales (“Gonzales”), Northend’s Director of Nursing. Gonzales was informed that
Ingraham had an outburst at a court hearing that morning. She was unaware whether
Ingraham would be in jail for an extended period, but was told that Ingraham was
pregnant, acknowledged the need for Ingraham’s medical records, and ordered a vital
sign check and a urinalysis to confirm the pregnancy.
Ingraham was brought back to the medical department at 10:56 a.m. after she
complained that she was having contractions and needed her psychiatric medications.
Gonzales performed an abdominal exam and did not notice anything out of the ordinary.
Ingraham asked to be taken to the hospital and stated that her water broke. Gonzales
examined Ingraham’s underwear and found “a small amount of yellow fluid with urine
smell [and] no bloody show.”1 Gonzales reported that it did “not appear to be amniotic
fluid” and that she was “unable to test” it.2 Gonzales then contacted Northend’s Medical
Doc. 207-1 at 6.
Id. at 7.
Director, Jose Piscoya (“Piscoya”). Piscoya ordered that Ingraham be given Tylenol for
pain and instructed that she not be sent to the hospital at that time.
On September 9, 2006, at approximately 2 p.m., Ingraham told a detention officer
that she had jumped off her bed onto her abdomen in an effort to terminate her
pregnancy. Rafael Felix (“Felix”) was the supervising sergeant at that time, and he was
informed by the detention officer that Ingraham was attempting to harm herself. Joe
Franklin (“Franklin”) relieved Felix at around 2:45 p.m and was similarly informed.
Franklin accompanied nurse Radu Timis (“Timis”) to Ingraham’s cell, and Timis
examined Ingraham. Franklin told Ingraham that if her behavior continued, she might
be restrained or placed on suicide watch.
Approximately an hour later, Timis reassessed Ingraham, again in Franklin’s
presence. Ingraham was crying, told them that she was not a good mother because
she was in jail, and that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy. Ingraham requested
pain medication for back, abdominal, and lower pelvic pain. Timis suggested that
Ingraham give her child up for adoption and told her again that suicide watch might be
necessary. Franklin told her that she could be charged with “premeditated
manslaughter” if she successfully aborted her pregnancy in jail.3
At 5:45 p.m., Franklin was advised that Ingraham was bleeding, that an officer
had observed blood in Ingraham’s toilet and on a pad, and that the medical staff had
been apprised of the situation. Officer Benjamin Wilson (“Wilson”) went on duty
sometime around 7:00 p.m. and also observed blood. Timis examined Ingraham again
Id. at 11.
at 8:05 p.m. Although he observed blood in Ingraham’s toilet, he did not feel any
uterine contractions. Ingraham was placed on medical watch, bed rest, and a pad
Around 9:20 p.m., Ingraham claimed that her mucus plug had come out.
Ingraham was examined again by Timis, who observed a pad with a filament of mucus
that Timis believed was from Ingraham’s nose. Ingraham was placed in a dry cell.4
Officer Donna Knolle’s (“Knolle”) shift began at 10:00 p.m. Ingraham told Knolle
that she was having contractions. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Knolle and Franklin
accompanied a certified nursing assistant (“CNA”) to Ingraham’s cell, and the CNA
checked Ingraham’s vital signs and felt for contractions. Joe Kelly (“Kelly”) replaced
Franklin as on-duty sergeant at some point subsequent to that check-up. At
approximately 10:45 p.m., nurse Irene Naputi (“Naputi”) performed a pad count and did
not observe any mucus. When Kelly went on duty, he heard Ingraham yelling from her
cell. Ingraham told Kelly she was in labor and in pain. Kelly told Ingraham that he
would inform the medical staff. Kelly contacted Naputi who sent the CNA to check
Ingraham’s vital signs at 12:31 a.m. on September 10.
At around 1:00 a.m. on September 10, 2006 Ingraham gave birth to M.M. in her
cell. Knolle reported seeing Ingraham holding a baby at 1:10 a.m. and emergency
medical personnel was on site by 1:15 a.m.
Ingraham and Garza, individually and on behalf of M.M., filed a lawsuit against
the County, Felix, Kelly, Franklin, Wilson, Knolle, McGregor, Ogden, and various
A dry cell is a cell in which an inmate cannot flush the toilet unless prison administrators
turn on the water. Doc. 262-1 at 6.
employees of Northend. Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that all defendants deprived them
of their civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that all defendants were
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate where “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and . . . the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”5 The
materiality requirement ensures that “only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.”6 Ultimately, “summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”7 In resolving a motion
for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party.8 The reviewing court may not weigh evidence or assess the
credibility of witnesses.9 The burden of persuasion is on the moving party.10
A. Vicarious Liability
Defendants argue first that none of them can be held vicariously liable under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for the actions of their subordinates. Defendants are correct–“vicarious
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir. 2000).
Dominguez-Curry v. Nevada Transp. Dept., 424 F.3d 1027, 1036 (9th Cir. 2005).
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
liability is inapplicable to § 1983 suits” and “absent vicarious liability, each [g]overnment
official is only liable for his or her own misconduct.”11 Plaintiffs have not alleged any
direct misconduct by Ogden or McGregor relating to M.M.’s birth.
B. Failure to Train
Even though the County may not be held vicariously liable for the actions of its
employees, “liability can attach if the [County] caused a constitutional violation through
official policy or custom, even if the constitutional violation occurs only once.”12
Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not presented any evidence that a policy or
custom of the County caused any deprivation of constitutional rights.13 Plaintiffs
respond that the County is liable under § 1983 for failing to train its employees.
The “inadequacy of police training may serve as the basis for § 1983 liability only
where the failure to train amounts to deliberate indifference to the rights of persons with
whom the police come into contact.”14 “Only where a failure to train reflects a . . .
conscious choice by a municipality–a policy as defined [in the case law]–can a
municipality be liable for such a failure under § 1983.”15
Plaintiffs argue that the County had a policy whereby on-duty sergeants could
overrule the medical staff, yet the sergeants were untrained in medical or mental health
Ammons v. Wash. Dep’t of Soc. & Health Svcs., 648 F.3d 1020, 1037 (9th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1948–49 (2009)).
Fogel v. Collins, 531 F.3d 824, 834 (9th Cir. 2008).
See Monell v. N.Y. City Dep’t of Soc. Svcs., 436 U.S. 658, 695–96 (1978).
City of Canton v. Harris, 489 U.S. 378, 388 (1989).
Id. at 389 (internal quotations omitted).
issues. “In resolving the issue of a [county’s] liability, the focus must be on adequacy of
the training program in relation to the tasks the particular officers must perform.”16
The problem with plaintiffs’ argument is that detention officers and sergeants were not
tasked with performing medical evaluations. Those responsibilities belonged to the
medical staff. The County’s policy was to hire independent medical personnel. That is
not inconsistent with the on-duty sergeants’ authority to override the medical staff.
There are any number of administrative, non-medical reasons why jail supervisors might
have that authority. Because the detention officers and sergeants were not charged
with performing medical assessments–plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim against the County fails.
C. Supervisory Liability
A supervisor may be individually liable under § 1983 “if there exists either: (1) his
or her personal involvement in the constitutional deprivation, or (2) a sufficient causal
connection between the supervisor’s wrongful conduct and the constitutional violation.”17
Personal participation of a supervisor may be shown if the supervisor “acted, or failed to
act, in a manner that was deliberately indifferent.”18 Defendants argue that plaintiffs
have not demonstrated that either Ogden or McGregor had personal involvement in the
alleged constitutional deprivation or that their conduct had any causal connection to the
alleged constitutional violation.
Id. at 390 (emphasis added).
Jefers v. Gomez, 267 F.3d 895, 915 (9th Cir. 2001).
Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1206–07 (9th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiffs argue that “Ogden and McGregor failed to adequately train their
sergeant supervisors as necessary to provide adequate health care to inmates.”19 An
official is deliberately indifferent if he is “aware of facts from which the inference could
be drawn that a substantial risk of [a rights violation] exists, and he must also draw the
inference.”20 Here, plaintiffs have not shown that Ogden or McGregor would have been
aware that a substantial risk of an Eighth Amendment violation existed–the jail
contracted with Northend for medical services. Even if the act of hiring a medical
services provider could support an inference that a substantial risk of inadequate care
existed, there is no evidence that Ogden or McGregor drew that inference.
Consequently, neither Ogden nor McGregor is liable under § 1983.
D. Qualified Immunity
Ogden and McGregor argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity “protects government officials 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.”21 Qualified immunity is immunity from
having to defend a lawsuit, not just a defense to liability.22 The Supreme Court has
accordingly “stressed the importance of resolving immunity questions at the earliest
possible stage in litigation.”23
Doc. 246 at 12.
Clouthier v. County of Contra Costa, 591 F.3d 1232, 1242 (9th Cir. 2010).
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (internal quotations omitted).
Id. (internal quotations omitted).
Id. at 232 (internal quotations omitted).
In Saucier v. Katz,24 the Supreme Court mandated a two-part test to determine
whether an official was entitled to qualified immunity. At the summary judgment stage,
“a court must decide whether the facts that [the] plaintiff has . . . shown . . . make out a
violation of a constitutional right.”25 If so, “the court must decide whether the right at
issue was clearly established at the time of [the] defendant’s alleged misconduct.”26 In
Pearson v. Callahan, the Supreme Court determined that “while the sequence set forth
[in Saucier] is often appropriate . . . district courts and . . . courts of appeals should be
permitted to exercise their . . . discretion in deciding which of the two prongs . . . should
be addressed first.”27
Here, plaintiffs have not presented any evidence that Ogden or McGregor
violated a constitutional right. Plaintiffs maintain that a determination as to whether
Ogden or McGregor are entitled to qualified immunity should be reserved until disputed
facts regarding whether Ogden and McGregor adequately trained their subordinates are
resolved. However, as discussed above, plaintiffs have not shown that Ogden and
McGregor were deliberately indifferent to plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. No additional
disputes of fact need to be resolved. Ogden and McGregor are entitled to qualified
533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001).
Pearson, 555 U.S. at 232.
Id. at 236.
For the reasons above, defendants’ motion at docket 226, for summary judgment
pursuant to Rule 56 is GRANTED. The claims against the County, Ogden, and
McGregor are DISMISSED.
DATED this 22nd day of November 2011.
JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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