Jackson v. Hereford et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Jacksons excessive force claim against Defendant Gutzmer 80 ; denying as moot Jackson's Addendum Notice of Objection 192 ; and denying as moot Jackson's Motion for Preliminary injunction 188 .(Written Opinion) Signed by Chief Judge John R. Tunheim on 09/27/2017. (JMK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 14-2982 (JRT/BRT)
VICKI HEREFORD, JEFFERY WHITE,
MICHELLE SAARI, DONN WEBER, JEFF
GUTZMER, BRADLEY PLUFF, KELLY
McELROY, DAVID REISHUS, in their
individual capacities, and KENT
GRANDLIENARD, in his individual and
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’
MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND DENYING
Ronnie Jackson, OID #239471, MCF-Oak Park Heights, 5329 Osgood
Avenue North, Stillwater, MN 55082, pro se plaintiff.
Rachel Bell, Assistant Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE
MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite
900, St. Paul, MN 55101, for defendant.
Plaintiff Ronnie Jackson alleges in this case that several prison-official defendants,
including Jeff Gutzmer, violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and
Defendants moved for summary judgment, United States
Magistrate Judge Becky R. Thorson recommended that the Court grant the motion, and
Jackson filed objections. On March 31, 2016, the Court granted Defendants’ Motion for
Summary Judgment in part but denied the motion as it related to Jackson’s excessive
force claim against Gutzmer. Defendants appealed, and the Eighth Circuit Court of
Appeals issued an opinion on August 10, 2017, holding that Gutzmer did not violate
Jackson’s Eighth Amendment rights.
In light of that opinion, the Court will grant
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Jackson’s excessive force
claim against Defendant Gutzmer.
On March 17, 2016, Jackson filed a motion asking the Court to accept the late
submission of an addendum to his objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation (“R & R”) and seeking a preliminary injunction to prohibit Defendants
from withholding his legal papers. Because his additional objections have no bearing on
the legal analysis of the Court’s March 31, 2016, opinion and the Eighth Circuit’s August
10, 2017, opinion, the Court will deny Jackson’s motion as to the late submission of
objections. Furthermore, because the Court will grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment with respect to Jackson’s excessive force claim against Gutzmer, the Court will
deny Jackson’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction as moot.
In the Declaration supporting Jackson’s March 17, 2016, motion, Jackson alleges
that his legal papers were taken from him on January 2, 2016, when he was sent to
administrative segregation. (Decl. of Ronnie Jackson (“Jackson Decl.”) ¶¶ 2–4, Mar. 17,
2016, Docket No. 190.) His initial objections to the Magistrate Judge’s R&R were due
while he was in administrative segregation, thus he was forced to write the objections
from memory because he did not have access to all his legal papers. (Id. ¶ 7, 9.)
Specifically, Jackson alleges that he did not have access to the legal documents that
pertained to the additional objections made in his “Addendum Notice of Objection.” (Id.
¶ 9.) For this reason, Jackson asks that the Court accept this “Addendum Notice of
Objection” although the deadline for filing objections has passed.
In his “Addendum Notice of Objection,” Jackson makes three objections. First, he
alleges that the Magistrate Judge used an improper standard of review regarding the
claim against Defendant Saari and should have considered whether “systemic
deficiencies can provide the basis for a finding of deliberate indifference.” (Addendum
Notice of Objection to Magistrate’s R&R dated Jan. 28, 2016, Mar. 17, 2016, Docket No.
192, ¶1 (citing Buckley v. Rogerson, 133 F.3d 1125 (8th Cir. 1998)).) Jackson’s second
and third objections allege that the Magistrate Judge erred as to various factual findings
regarding when Jackson stopped his “negative behavior” and as to when that fact was
known to Defendant Gutzmer. (Id. ¶¶ 2–3.)
In the Declaration supporting Jackson’s March 17, 2016, motion, Jackson also
alleges that his legal papers were not immediately returned to him when he came out of
administrative segregation on March 2, 2016. (Jackson Decl. ¶ 5.) While he was given
access to his papers several days later, he was not allowed to keep all of his papers with
him. (Id. ¶ 5.) Jackson alleges that 46% of his legal papers were again taken away. (Id.)
Jackson alleges that Defendants’ failure to give him access to his legal papers “‘impedes
or frustrates’ the legal process” and adversely affects his ability to file papers relating to
his case, to respond to deadlines, and to properly cite or support documents. (Jackson
Decl. ¶ 8.)
For these reasons, Jackson seeks a preliminary injunction ordering
Defendants to immediately return his legal papers and prohibiting Defendants from
withholding them. (Pl.’s Mot. for Prelim. Inj. ¶¶ 2–3, Mar. 17, 2016, Docket No. 188.)
Because Jackson’s additional objections would have no bearing on the outcome of
the case, the Court will deny his request to submit a late “Addendum Notice of
Objection” as moot. Because the Court will grant Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment with respect to Jackson’s excessive force claim against Gutzmer, the Court will
deny Jackson’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction as moot.
Jackson’s Motion to Allow “Addendum Notice of Objection”
Jackson’s motion requests, in part, that the Court accept a late-filed “Addendum
Notice of Objection” to the Magistrate Judge’s R&R. Upon the filing of an R&R by a
magistrate judge, “a party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed
findings and recommendations” within 14 days. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2); accord D.
Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). Jackson did file initial objections within 14 days. (See Pl.’s Notice
of Objs. to R&R (“Objs. to R&R”), Feb. 9, 2016, Docket No. 184.) However, he now
wishes to file additional objections given that he did not have access to all his legal
papers when the 14 day deadline expired.
The Court is sympathetic to Jackson’s
situation; however, the Court will deny Jackson’s request because the additional
objections are moot.
A. Jackson’s Objection to the Magistrate Judge’s Finding as to Saari
Jackson objects to the standard used by the Magistrate Judge to determine Saari’s
liability. The objection is moot because the Court reviewed the Magistrate Judge’s
finding as to Saari de novo in its March 31, 2016, Order and because the standard
articulated by Jackson does not apply in this case.
Jackson properly objected to the Magistrate Judge’s finding as to Saari in his
initial notice of objections. (Objs. to R&R § IV.) The Court reviewed that objection de
novo and overruled it in its March 31, 2016, Order. Jackson v. Hereford, No. CV 142982 (JRT/BRT), 2016 WL 1305889, at *7-8 (D. Minn. Mar. 31, 2016), rev’d in part sub
nom. Jackson v. Gutzmer, 866 F.3d 969 (8th Cir. 2017). The Court found that Jackson
failed to show that Saari had the mental state necessary to sustain a deliberate
indifference claim. Id.
Jackson’s additional objection has no bearing on this finding. Jackson asks the
Court to apply a standard articulated in Buckley, which suggests that systemic
deficiencies can provide the basis for a finding of deliberate indifference. 133 F.3d at
1130–31. This standard stems from the Eleventh Circuit case Rogers v. Evans, where it
was said to apply to institutional-level challenges to prison health care. 792 F.2d 1052,
1058–59 (11th Cir. 1986). Rogers states that “a series of incidents closely related in time
may disclose a pattern of conduct amounting to deliberate indifference.” Id. In Buckley,
the Eighth Circuit applied this standard and affirmed denial of summary judgment on a
claim against the medical director of a prison where the plaintiff had shown “substantial
evidence of repeated instances” of misconduct. 133 F.3d at 1131. Jackson’s complaint is
not an institutional level challenge to prison health care, nor does he present evidence of a
series of incidents or pattern of conduct relating to Saari. Because Jackson’s objection as
to Saari’s liability would not alter the Court’s finding, it is moot and will not be allowed.
B. Jackson’s Objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Findings as to Gutzmer
Jackson objects to the Magistrate Judge’s findings as to when he stopped his
“negative behavior” and as to whether and when Gutzmer knew that he had stopped such
behavior. These objections relate to whether Gutzmer authorized use of a restraint board
because Jackson was self-injurious or as punishment. However, Jackson’s objections are
moot in light of the Eighth Circuit’s August 10, 2017, opinion, which held that Gutzmer
is entitled to qualified immunity because the record failed to establish the alleged Eighth
Amendment excessive force violation.
The Eighth Circuit related the facts of the case directly from Jackson’s
Declaration. Jackson v. Gutzmer, 866 F.3d 969, 972–73 (8th Cir. 2017). The Eighth
Circuit noted, as Jackson points out, that there was a dispute as to whether Gutzmer
witnessed Jackson kicking and punching the cell door. Id. at 973. Yet the Eighth Circuit
also noted that it was undisputed that Sergeant Weber told Gutzmer that Jackson had
been kicking and punching his cell door and ignored directives to stop. Id.
Jackson’s factual allegations would not change the outcome of the case for two
reasons. First, the Eighth Circuit concluded that the facts known to Gutzmer were
sufficient to justify use of the restraint board to prevent Jackson from harming himself.
See id. at 977 n.5. The Eighth Circuit concluded that “‘the extent of the threat to the
safety of [Jackson], as reasonably perceived by [Lt. Gutzmer] on the basis of facts known
to him, suggested that ‘the use of force could plausibly have been thought necessary’ to
stop Jackson before he injured himself.” Id. (alterations in original) (citing Whitley v.
Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986).
Second, the Eighth Circuit found that the question of Gutzmer’s intent was not
dispositive. The Eighth Circuit held that even if placing Jackson on the restraint board
was intended as punishment, such use was warranted under the circumstances and would
not violate the Eighth Amendment. Id. at 978. The Eighth Circuit applied the standard
articulated in Hudson v. McMillan and Whitley, which considers whether force was
applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline, or maliciously and
sadistically to cause harm. Id. at 974 (citing Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 6-7
(1992); Whitley, 475 U.S. at 321). The Eighth Circuit noted that this standard accords
“wide-ranging deference” to prison administrators acting to “preserve internal order and
discipline and to maintain institutional security.” Id. (citing Hudson, 503 U.S. at 6).
Allegations of errors in judgment or disputes over the reasonableness of particular uses of
force should not go to the jury. Id. at 975. The Eighth Circuit emphasized that punishing
an inmate to “preserve internal order and discipline and to maintain institutional security
does not violate the Eighth Amendment . . . , unless the punishment or force used is
repugnant to the conscience of mankind,” which was not the case here. Id. at 978
(internal citations omitted). Thus, even if Jackson’s factual allegations showed that the
use of the restraint board was intended as punishment, such punishment under the
circumstances did not violate the Eighth Amendment.
Jackson’s late objections to the Magistrate Judge’s factual findings would not
change the outcome of the case, thus the objections are moot and will not be allowed.
Jackson’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction
Jackson’s March 13, 2016, motion also seeks a preliminary injunction to prohibit
Defendants from withholding his legal papers. Because the Court will grant Defendants’
Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Jackson’s excessive force claim against
Gutzmer, there are no remaining claims in this case. Jackson’s motion for preliminary
injunction will therefore be denied as moot.
The purpose of a preliminary injunction is to “preserve the status quo and prevent
irreparable harm until the court has an opportunity to rule on the lawsuit’s merits.”
Devose v. Herrington, 42 F.3d 470, 471 (8th Cir. 1994). This case has already been
heard on the merits, thus a preliminary injunction would be moot.
The Court also concludes that Jackson’s motion for preliminary injunction should
be denied on substantive grounds because Jackson has not established a relationship
between the injuries claimed in his motion and the conduct asserted in his complaint.
Because a preliminary injunction’s purpose is to preserve the status quo while a lawsuit is
pending, a moving party “must necessarily establish a relationship between the injury
claimed in the party’s motion and the conduct asserted in the complaint.” Id.; see also
Hale v. Wood, 89 F.3d 840 (8th Cir. 1996). While Jackson’s underlying complaint
involves allegations of Eighth Amendment violations, his motion for preliminary
injunction is based on new allegations of harm involving restricted access to his legal
papers, and he has failed to establish a connection between the underlying complaint and
the request for a preliminary injunction. Thus, even if it were not moot, Jackson’s motion
for preliminary injunction would also be denied on substantive grounds.
In light of the Eighth Circuit’s August 10, 2017, decision, the Court grants
Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.
Because Jackson’s additional objections would not change the outcome of his
case, they are moot, and the Court denies his motion to accept the late submission,
“Addendum Notice of Objection.”
Because Jackson’s complaint has already been resolved on the merits, a
preliminary injunction is not warranted, and the Court denies his Motion for Preliminary
Based on the foregoing, and all the files, records, and proceedings herein, IT IS
HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket No. 80] is GRANTED
with respect to Jackson’s excessive force claim against Defendant Gutzmer.
2. Jackson’s request that the Court accept his late submission, “Addendum Notice
of Objection” [Docket No. 192] is DENIED as moot.
3. Jackson’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction [Docket No. 188] is DENIED as
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
DATED: September 27, 2017
at Minneapolis, Minnesota.
__________s/John R. Tunheim_________
JOHN R. TUNHEIM
United States District Court
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