Spence v. Love et al
ORDER granting 53 Motion for Summary Judgment. This case is dismissed with prejudice. Signed by Judge Billy Roy Wilson on 10/30/2015. (ks)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
MICAH A. SPENCE
BILLY LOVE, RN, UAMS, et al.
Pending is Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 53). Plaintiff has responded
and Defendants have replied.1 Based on the findings of fact and conclusions of law below, the motion
After telling a police officer that he was being chased by gang members who wanted to kill him,
and admitting a history of paranoia schizophrenia, Plaintiff checked himself into UAMS’s psychiatric
A little before 6:00 p.m. the next day,4 Plaintiff got sideways with Defendant Billy Love, a
nurse, after Plaintiff called another nurse a bitch. In response to Love yelling at him, Plaintiff yelled
back mockingly.5 In response Love allegedly said, “I will be back with something for your ass.” Love
returned with several UAMS police officers and several medical personnel, including Dr. Yarberry,
Doc. Nos. 59, 62.
Unless otherwise noted, the Background is from Plaintiff’s Statement of Undisputed Material
Facts. (Doc. No. 60).
Doc. No. 61-1.
Doc. No. 53-4.
Plaintiff admitted that he was mocking Love by raising his voice.
who was in charge of the unit at the time. Dr. Yarberry stated that Love informed her that Plaintiff
needed a shot to help him calm down. Plaintiff explained what had happened with Love and pointed
out to Dr. Yarberry that he was calm. She agreed that Plaintiff did not need a shot at that time, but told
him she would not leave him leave yet because he was a possible threat to himself6 or the community.
Plaintiff agreed, and said he would spend the rest of the night in his room to avoid any more issues.
Everyone left the area and Plaintiff returned to his room, but not before again calling the female nurse a
Ten minutes later, Plaintiff was in the bathroom in his room, when Love asked Plaintiff to come
out to take a shot that had been approved.7 Plaintiff said he wanted to leave, but was reminded that
Dr. Yarberry said he could not leave. Plaintiff again said that he did not want the shot, but eventually
laid on the bed and calmly pulled his pants down as instructed. Several medical personnel and UAMS
police officers were in the room around the bed. When the nurse attempted to give Plaintiff the shot, he
grabbed the nurse’s arm. Officers pounced on Plaintiff and put him in a choke-hold to get him to
release the nurse’s arm. Eventually Plaintiff let go of the nurse’s arm, and the officer released the
choke-holed. However, officers continued to hold Plaintiff down because he continued to struggle with
them. Eventually the officers lifted plaintiff to carry him to a different room, but the struggle continued.
Plaintiff alleges that, at that point he was slammed to the floor, placed in handcuffs, placed in a chokehold, and given a second shot. (However, Plaintiff’s statement of undisputed material facts says he was
Plaintiff had been admitted the night before with suicidal ideations and a history of paranoid
schizophrenia. Doc. No. 53-1.
Dr. Yarberry submitted an affidavit stating that she ordered a shot at 5:55 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the
night of the incident. Doc. No. 53-8.
given a second shot after being placed on the bed in his room).8 Plaintiff then passed out. The next day
he was discharged from the hospital.
Several months later, Plaintiff was criminally charged from the altercation at the hospital, and
was in custody for 15 months. He was released and the charges nolle prossed because of speedy-trial
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Summary judgment is appropriate only when there is no genuine issue of material fact, so
that the dispute may be decided on purely legal grounds.9 The Supreme Court has established
guidelines to assist trial courts in determining whether this standard has been met:
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of determining whether there is the need for
a trial -- whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be
resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has cautioned that summary judgment is an extreme
remedy that should be granted only when the movant has established a right to the judgment beyond
controversy.11 Nevertheless, summary judgment promotes judicial economy by preventing trial when
no genuine issue of fact remains.12 A court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the party
This is the second shot ordered by Dr. Yarberry.
Holloway v. Lockhart, 813 F.2d 874 (8th Cir. 1987); Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).
Inland Oil & Transport Co. v. United States, 600 F.2d 725, 727 (8th Cir. 1979).
Id. at 728.
opposing the motion.13 The Eighth Circuit has also set out the burden of the parties in connection with a
summary judgment motion:
[T]he burden on the party moving for summary judgment is only to demonstrate, i.e.,“[to
point] out to the District Court,” that the record does not disclose a genuine dispute on a
material fact. It is enough for the movant to bring up the fact that the record does not
contain such an issue and to identify that part of the record which bears out his assertion.
Once this is done, his burden is discharged, and, if the record in fact bears out the claim
that no genuine dispute exists on any material fact, it is then the respondent’s burden to set
forth affirmative evidence, specific facts, showing that there is a genuine dispute on that
issue. If the respondent fails to carry that burden, summary judgment should be granted.14
Only disputes over facts that may affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment.15
Plaintiff brings claims, under § 1983 for unlawful detention, excessive force, and civil
conspiracy. But the facts viewed in a light most favorable to Plaintiff do not support a violation of his
constitutional rights. Though Plaintiff voluntarily committed himself to the hospital, it is undisputed that
when Plaintiff asked to leave, the treating doctor asked him to stay because he might be a threat to
himself or others, and Plaintiff agreed. Even if Plaintiff eventually changed his mind and wanted to
leave, Defendants had the right to detain Plaintiff when he proved what they already believed – that he
was at risk to harm himself or others in the community.
The Eighth Amendment does not apply in this case because “an involuntarily committed
psychiatric patient is confined for treatment rather than incarcerated for the purpose of punishment
Id. at 727-28.
Counts v. MK-Ferguson Co., 862 F.2d 1338, 1339 (8th Cir. 1988) (quoting City of Mt.
Pleasant v. Associated Elec. Coop., 838 F.2d 268, 273-74 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted)).
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
following conviction . . . .”16 Rather, Plaintiff’s claims must be assessed under the Fourteenth
Plaintiff asserts that his constitutional rights were violated when he was forced to involuntarily
take medications without due process of law. “Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment, there is no doubt that [Plaintiff] ‘possesses a significant liberty interest in avoiding the
unwanted administration of antipsychotic drugs.’”17 To succeed on this claim, Plaintiff “must generally
show the defendant acted with deliberate indifference to a constitutional right in a manner that shocks
the conscience.”18 “Where the defendant did not have time for actual deliberation before committing
the wrongful act, however, the plaintiff must show the defendant acted with a degree of fault evincing
malice or sadistic behavior.”19 Plaintiff cannot meet his burden on either standard.
When the nurse attempted to give Plaintiff a shot – and, from the video of the event, he
appeared to be cooperating – he suddenly grabbed her arm and refused to let go until after he was put
in a choke-hold and restrained. Additionally (though Plaintiff denies it) the video clearly shows Plaintiff
wrapping his legs around the nurse who was attempting to administer the shot and pulling her toward
him while gripping her arm. Eventually, Defendants restrained Plaintiff and gave him the shot while he
resisted. Plaintiff argues that this was in violation of his constitutional rights, but the video reveals that
Defendants’ actions were all in response to Plaintiff’s attack on the nurse and his continued struggles.
Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 874 (8th Cir. 2004).
Morgan v. Rabun, 128 F.3d 694, 696 (8th Cir. 1997) (quoting Washington v. Harper, 494
U.S. 210, 221-222 (1990)).
Revels, 382 F.3d at 875.
Id. at 875-76.
“It is clear that a voluntary patient in a mental hospital who presents a danger to himself or others has no
constitutional right to refuse medication.”20 It is also clear from the video and undisputed material facts
that Plaintiff posed a threat to others, and, based on his admitted suicidal ideations, possibly himself.
Defendants’ actions did not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. In fact, it appears that Plaintiff
was subjected to the least force necessary under the circumstances.
Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants knowingly gave false testimony about the incident which
resulted in charges being filed and him being arrested. Essentially, this is a civil conspiracy claim.
However, Plaintiff provided no evidence regarding his allegations that the parties conspired, that they
lied, or even what they lied about. The affidavits and incident reports are consistent with the video.
Plaintiff’s conclusory allegations to the contrary are insufficient at this stage.
Based on the findings of fact and conclusions of law above, Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 53) is GRANTED. This case is dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 30th day of October, 2015.
/s/ Billy Roy Wilson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Weiss v. Missouri Dep’t of Mental Health, 587 F. Supp. 1157, 1161 (E.D. Mo. 1984) (citing
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