Bown v. Reinke et al
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER denying 126 Motion to Retain Jurisdiction. Signed by Judge B. Lynn Winmill. (caused to be mailed to non Registered Participants at the addresses listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) by (cjs)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO
WILLIAM A. BOWN,
Case No. 1:12-cv-00262-BLW
BRENT D. REINKE; RONA SIEGERT;
RANDY E. BLADES; JIMMIE H.
CROSBY; DANIEL METTIE; BECKY A.
BLAKE; RONALD D. PIXLER;
TIMOTHY J. RICHARDSON; CORIZON,
INC., fka CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL
SERVICES, INC., a Missouri corporation;
KAREN B. BARRETT, PA; APRIL
DAWSON, MD; CASSIE RICHINS, LPN;
and JOHN and JANE DOES 1-10,
The Court has before it a motion to retain jurisdiction filed by plaintiffs. The
motion is fully briefed and at issue. For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny
Plaintiff Bown filed this § 1983 action against prison officials for not responding
promptly when he complained of symptoms of a heart attack. Their delay, he claims,
resulted in permanent damage to his heart.
The defendants responded by filing a motion for summary judgment arguing,
among other things, that they were entitled to qualified immunity because the law was
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 1
not clearly established that the system they had in place for responding to inmates who
might be having a heart attack was constitutionally deficient. The Court disagreed,
holding that the law was clearly established that the prison system was constitutionally
deficient, and concluding that the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity.
The defendants appealed that decision. The briefing on that appeal has now been
completed and the parties are awaiting notice on whether oral argument will be held.
The plaintiffs have filed a motion with this Court arguing that the appeal is
frivolous and that the case should proceed to trial despite the appeal. The Court will
resolve that motion after identifying the governing legal standards.
The filing of a notice of an interlocutory appeal on qualified immunity grounds
divests the district court of jurisdiction to proceed with trial. City of Los Angeles, Harbor
Div. v. Santa Monica Baykeeper, 254 F.3d 882, 886 (9th Cir.2001). The Ninth Circuit
has held, however, that “[s]hould the district court find that the defendants’ claim of
qualified immunity is frivolous or has been waived, the district court may certify, in
writing, that defendants have forfeited their right to pretrial appeal, and may proceed with
trial.” Chuman v. Wright, 960 F.2d 104, 105 (9th Cir.1992). “In the absence of such
certification, the district court is automatically divested of jurisdiction to proceed with
trial pending appeal.” Id. at 105.
A qualified immunity claim may be certified as frivolous if it is “so baseless that it
does not invoke appellate jurisdiction.” Marks v. Clarke, 102 F.3d 1012, 1017 n. 8 (9th
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 2
Cir.1996). An appeal is frivolous if it is wholly without merit. In re George, 322 F.3d
586, 591 (9th Cir. 2003).
In their appeal, defendants argue that the Court erred in holding that the law was
clearly established that the system they had in place for responding to inmates who might
be having a heart attack was constitutionally deficient. Defendants argue in their appeal
that the Court “defined the clearly established law at an impermissible level of
generality.” See Defense Brief (Dkt. No. 127) at p. 7.
The defendants made the same argument to this Court in their summary judgment
motion. Although the Court disagreed, and remains confident in its ruling, the
defendants’ argument was not “wholly without merit.” There is at least some small room
for debate and thus the Court cannot grant plaintiffs’ motion.
In accordance with the Memorandum Decision set forth above,
NOW THEREFORE IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, that the motion to retain
jurisdiction (docket no. 126) is DENIED.
DATED: March 3, 2017
B. Lynn Winmill
United States District Court
Memorandum Decision & Order – page 3
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