Stewart v. Precythe et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER re: 50 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant John Doe Nurse Cody, 26 MOTION for Summary Judgment Defendants Ann Precythe, Trevor Proffer, Micha Wyatt, Charlie Brown, Sargeant Gordon, Hollie Dysinge r, and William Pettus's Motion for Summary Judgment, Memorandum in Support of their Motion for Summary Judgment & filed by Defendant Micha Wyatt, Defendant Ann Precythe, Defendant Charles Brown, Defendant Holly Dysinger, Defendant William P ettis, Defendant Trevor Proffer, Defendant Sergeant Gordon: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the MDOC Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26) is denied. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant Cody Stanley (Doc. 50) is denied.. Signed by Magistrate Judge Abbie Crites-Leoni on 06/04/2021. (CMH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
ANN PRECYTHE, et al.,
Case No. 1:18 CV 229 ACL
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Plaintiff Curtis Stewart, currently an inmate at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and
Correctional Center (“ERDC”), brought this action pro se under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging
the violation of his constitutional rights during his incarceration at the Southeast Correctional
Center in Charleston, Missouri (“SECC”). The action was originally filed in the Circuit
Court of Mississippi County, Missouri, and was removed to this Court by Defendants. (Doc.
This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendants
Ann Precythe, Trevor Proffer, Micha Wyatt, Charlie Brown, Sergeant Gordon, Hollie
Dysinger, and William Pettus (“MDOC Defendants”) (Doc. 26), and the separate Motion for
Summary Judgment of Defendant Cody Stanley, LPN (“Defendant Stanley”) (Doc. 50).
These matters are fully briefed and ripe for disposition.
In his Complaint, Stewart seeks monetary and declaratory relief against Defendant
Ann Precythe, in her individual and official capacity as Director of the Missouri Department
of Corrections (“MDOC”); and against the following SECC employees in their individual
capacities: William Pettus, Trevor Proffer, Charlie Brown, Micha Wyatt, Sergeant Gordon,
and Hollie Dysinger. Stewart alleges that the Defendant corrections officers (“CO
Defendants”) used excessive force when securing him during a cell transfer on two different
occasions. He further contends that the CO Defendants and Defendant Stanley were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs during and after the cell transfer
incidents. Stewart alleges that Defendant Precythe established and authorized the MDOC
policy of securing inmates during cell transfers, which is unconstitutional.
Summary Judgment Standard
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), a district court may grant a motion
for summary judgment if all of the information before the court demonstrates that “there is
no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The burden is on the
moving party. City of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa v. Associated Elec. Co-op. Inc., 838 F.2d 268, 273
(8th Cir. 1988). After the moving party discharges this burden, the nonmoving party must do
more than show that there is some doubt as to the facts. Matsushita 333Elec. Industrial Co.
v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact is not the
“mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties.” State Auto. Ins. Co. v.
Lawrence, 358 F.3d 982, 985 (8th Cir. 2004). “Instead, the dispute must be outcome
determinative under prevailing law.” Mosley v. City of Northwoods, 415 F.3d 908, 910-11
(8th Cir. 2005) (internal quotations omitted). A fact is material when it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986). Stewart’s status as a pro se prisoner does not excuse him from responding
to Defendants’ Motions “with specific factual support for his claims to avoid summary
judgment,” or from complying with local rules. Beck v. Skon, 253 F.3d 330, 333 (8th Cir.
III. Facts 1
The facts of each incident are set forth below. 2
At the time of both of the occurrences alleged in the Complaint, Stewart was
incarcerated at SECC. He was housed in the administrative segregation unit for assaulting a
May 19, 2017 Transfer
On May 19, 2017, Stewart advised Defendants Brown and Wyatt that he felt
threatened by his cellmate and would like to be placed in a different cell. He declared his
cellmate an enemy, so as not to be celled with him.
Stewart alleges that Brown and Wyatt instructed him to “cuff up,” at which time he
placed his hands out the food port to comply. He states that Defendants twisted his wrist
when placing the cuffs on his wrist, and informed Stewart it was necessary to twist his wrist
because his thumbs needed to be facing upward. Stewart alleges that he notified Defendants
The Court notes Stewart did not specifically respond to either of the Defendants’ statements of
uncontroverted material facts as is required by Local Rule 7-4.01(E). The MDOC Defendants
argue in their Reply that their statement should, therefore, be deemed admitted. While it is true
that “pro se litigants are not excused from compliance with relevant rules of the procedural and
substantive law,” Schooley v. Kennedy, 712 F.2d 372, 373 (8th Cir. 1983), the Court finds
Stewart did, at least, attempt to controvert Defendants’ statement by proffering a sworn
“Declaration in Support of Plaintiff[’s] Motion in Opposition to Defendants[’] Summary
Judgment.” (Doc. 33.) The Court further notes that the MDOC Defendants did not fully comply
with Local Rule 7-4.01(E), in that they did not file their Statement of Uncontroverted Material
Facts as a separate document. Under these circumstances, the Court declines Defendants’
invitation to punitively apply Local Rule 7-4.01(E).
The Court’s recitation of the facts is taken from Defendants’ Statements of Uncontroverted
Material Facts (Docs. 26, 52) and Plaintiffs’ Response in Opposition to Defendants’ Summary
Judgment (Docs. 32, 33, 56), with any disputes noted.
Brown and Wyatt that the cuffs were too tight, to which they responded that policy required
that the cuffs be placed on “skin-to-skin.” Stewart states that he was then removed from the
cell and handcuffed and shackled to an “opened barred steel bench in a sitting hog-tied stress
position.” Stewart also describes this position as a “four point restraint.” On June 2, 2017,
in his Offender Grievance form (Doc. 32-1), Stewart explained that he was “handcuffed and
shackled to a steel bench.” Defendants admit that they placed Stewart “on a restraint bench”
while they found Stewart another cell.
Stewart alleges that, while on the bench, he immediately started to feel “tension” on
his back, shoulders, arms, wrist, and legs. He stated that his wrist became swollen and his
limbs became numb after approximately an hour. Stewart contends that he then informed
Defendants Brown, Wyatt, and Gordon that he was experiencing pain and that his cuffs were
too tight. He alleges that Defendant Gordon responded, “Deal with it,” and Brown and
Wyatt told him he should not have declared his cellmate an enemy. Stewart claims that he
next notified Defendants that it felt as though his rectum was bleeding and requested a
medical emergency, but his request was ignored. He alleges that he also requested to use the
restroom, but Defendants told him he would get a chance to use the restroom when he was
placed in a cell. As a result, Stewart claims that he was forced to urinate on himself.
Stewart alleges that he notified Defendant Cody Stanley of his medical complaints
when Stanley was passing out medication, but Stanley refused to check his restraints or
examine him. Instead, Stanley stated that Stewart should not have checked out of the cell,
and then left. Stanley is a Licensed Practical Nurse (“LPN”) employed by Corizon, LLC at
Stewart alleges that, after Defendants Brown and Wyatt removed him from the
restraint bench, they noticed blood on the back of his pants from his rectum bleeding due to
the pressure applied to it by the bench bar. He claims that Brown and Wyatt taunted him by
stating that he “may need a cotex.”
Stewart was on the restraint bench for a total of two hours, until Defendants found a
new cell for him. Stewart remained in the new cell until May 22, 2017.
Defendant Stanley states that he does not recall the incident at issue, but states that if
he did not examine Stewart, it was because Stewart never reported the rectal bleeding to him.
May 22, 2017 Transfer
On May 22, 2017, Stewart’s new roommate declared Stewart an enemy and requested
that he be placed in protective custody. As a result, Stewart was again removed from his cell
and placed on the restraint bench for two hours.
Stewart alleges that, while on the restraint bench, he notified Defendant Gordon that
he had pain and swelling in his wrist, and pain in his buttocks, back, legs, and shoulders. He
alleges that, due to the stress put on his back and lack of back support, his lower back
“popped out of place” making it difficult for him to sit straight without extreme pain. His
rectum also started to bleed again. Stewart states that he reported these issues to Defendant
Gordon, but Gordon did not notify medical staff and instead stated that Stewart was “going
to sit on the bench til [his] ass looked like grilled meat.” Stewart alleges that he was again
denied a restroom break and had to urinate on himself. Stewart alleges that he sustained
injuries to his wrist, resulting in spasms in his hand; injuries to his back and leg that affect
his mobility, cause constant pain in his leg, and numbness of his foot; injury to his shoulder,
resulting in difficulty with rotation; and injury to his anus, causing pain.
On May 23, 2017, Stewart was transferred to the Crossroads Correctional Center
(“CRCC”). Stewart reported no medical complaints at this time.
MDOC Defendants’ Motion
In their Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants first argue that summary
judgment is proper as to Defendant Precythe because the doctrine of respondeat superior
cannot form the basis of an individual capacity claim, and sovereign immunity bars suit
against her in her official capacity. They next argue that the CO Defendants are entitled to
judgment as a matter of law, because Stewart cannot establish an excessive force or
deliberate indifference claim. Defendants further argue that the CO Defendants are entitled
to qualified immunity and official immunity; Stewart failed to exhaust his administrative
remedies regarding his allegations about MDOC policies; and Stewart cannot prove any
damages from his alleged injuries. (Doc. 26.) In support of their Motion, Defendants have
attached excerpts of Stewart’s deposition (Doc. 26-1), and the Affidavit of Defendant Hollie
Dysinger Vandergriff (Doc. 26-2).
Excessive Use of Force
Stewart argues that the CO Defendants used excessive force “sadistically and
maliciously without provocation or the need to maintain or restore discipline,” in violation of
the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. (Doc. 2 at 8.) The
essence of Stewart’s claim is that he was subjected to an unconstitutional
use of excessive force when he was placed on the restraint bench for two-hour periods while
waiting for an available cell.
The Eighth Amendment forbids the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain”
constituting cruel and unusual punishment. Hudson v. McMillan, 503 U.S. 1, 9-10
(1992). See also Burns v. Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1138 (8th Cir. 2014) (“After incarceration,
only the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain constitutes cruel and unusual punishment
forbidden by the Eighth Amendment”). When a prison official is accused of using excessive
physical force in violation of the Eighth Amendment, the core judicial inquiry is “whether
force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline,” or “maliciously
and sadistically to cause harm.” Jackson v. Gutzmer, 866 F.3d 969, 974 (8th Cir.
2017). See also Ward v. Smith, 844 F.3d 717, 721 (8th Cir. 2016) (“Because the use of force
is sometimes required in prison settings, guards are liable only if they are completely
unjustified in using force, i.e., they are using it maliciously and sadistically”). The factors to
be considered in determining whether force was used in good faith include “the need for the
application of force, the relationship between the need and the amount of force that was used,
and the extent of injury inflicted.” Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 321 (1986).
Here, Stewart claims that the procedure by which Defendants handcuff and shackle
inmates to the restraint bench while waiting for a cell inflicts unnecessary pain and suffering.
The first time this occurred, on May 19, 2017, Stewart alleges that he experienced “pain
throughout his entire body specifically his shoulders, arms, wrist, legs, back and ankles.”
(Doc. 2 at 5.) Stewart claims that he notified Defendants that his cuffs were on too tight, that
he was in pain, and that his rectum felt as if it were bleeding, but Defendants told him he
should not have declared his cellmate an enemy and to “just deal with it” until they found
him a cell. Id. Additionally, Stewart alleges that Defendants denied him a restroom break,
which resulted in him urinating on himself. Id. at 6. Upon being removed from the restraint
bench, Stewart stated that Defendants noticed blood on the back of his pants and taunted him
by stating “you may need a Cotex.” Id. at 6. On the second occasion, May 22, 2017, Stewart
was again placed on the restraint bench after a cellmate reported that he “feared for his
safety.” Id. at 7. When Stewart asked a CO why he was being placed on the restraint bench,
Stewart alleges the CO responded, “you guys want to check out of [your] cell and give us a
hard time so I’m going to give y’all a hard time.” Id. Stewart claims that he notified a CO
that his wrist was swollen, and that his wrist, buttocks, back legs, and shoulders hurt. He
states that his rectum began to bleed after about one hour. Id. Stewart alleges that he was
denied restroom breaks, which resulted in him urinating on himself again. Id. It is
undisputed that Stewart was on the restraint bench for two hours on each occasion.
Stewart could also be understood to claim he was subjected to unconstitutional
conditions of confinement when he was held on the restraint bench for two hours without
restroom breaks. To state a plausible Eighth Amendment conditions-of-confinement claim,
plaintiff must demonstrate both an objective and a subjective element. To satisfy the
objective element, he must demonstrate he suffered a deprivation that was sufficiently
serious to deprive him of the minimal civilized measures of life’s necessities, or create a
substantial risk of serious harm to his health or safety. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
834 (1994); Hamner v. Burls, 937 F.3d 1171, 1178 (8th Cir. 2019). The duration of the
exposure to the conditions and the harm suffered are key facts in determining whether this
element has been satisfied. Tokar v. Armontrout, 97 F.3d 1078, 1082 (8th Cir.
1996); Whitnack v. Douglas County, 16 F.3d 954, 958 (8th Cir. 1994). To satisfy the
subjective element, plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant actually knew of, but
deliberately disregarded, the risk of harm posed by the deprivation. Davis v. Oregon County,
Mo., 607 F.3d 543, 548-49 (8th Cir. 2010); Revels v. Vincenz, 382 F.3d 870, 875 (8th Cir.
The only testimony Defendants have submitted on their own behalf is the Affidavit of
Defendant Dysinger. Defendant Dysinger stated that she was working at SECC in May 2017
when Stewart was an inmate at SECC. Her testimony regarding the alleged excessive force
incidents consists of the following statement: “When a prisoner wants to transfer cells,
Missouri Department of Corrections (“MDOC”) policy dictates that the prisoner be removed
from his cell and restrained until a new cell is found for them. Such transfers are done to
ensure prisoner safety.” (Doc. 26-2 at p. 1.) Despite Defendant Dysinger’s reference to
MDOC policy, Defendants have not submitted the policy. Defendant Dysinger offers no
testimony regarding the specific incidents involving Stewart. None of the other CO
Defendants have offered testimony.
Although Defendants have submitted excerpts of Stewart’s deposition, these excerpts
do not address any of the events that occurred while Stewart was restrained on the restraint
bench. Instead, they cite Stewart’s testimony to support the propositions that he was
“placed…on a restraint bench” on May 19, 2017 and “was placed onto the restraint bench
again” on May 22, 2017, while they found another cell for Stewart. Notably, Stewart
testified that he was restrained in a “sitting hog-tie position.” (Doc. 26-1 at p. 5.)
Defendants, however, did not submit the portion of Stewart’s deposition testimony in which
he provided a more detailed description of this position. Defendants cite to Stewart’s
testimony to support the proposition that he “suffered no injuries when he was taken off the
bench.” (Doc. 26 at 6.) While it is true that Stewart testified the guards did not injure him
when they took him off the restraint bench, he testified that he sustained injuries while on the
restraint bench of which he advised the guards and the guards responded by ridiculing him.
(Doc. 26-1 at 7.)
Moreover, some of Defendants’ alleged uncontroverted material facts are merely
unsupported legal opinions. For example, Defendants state, “The force used by Defendants
Corrections Officers on Plaintiff was to keep MDOC personnel and Plaintiff safe,” and “The
force used on Plaintiff was reasonable under the circumstances and the minimum necessary.”
(Doc. 26 at p. 7.) These statements fail to comply with Local Rule 4.01(E), which requires
that the moving party state how each fact “is established by the record, with appropriate
Defendants, relying on Lockhart v. Reese, No. 1:16CV63 SNLJ, 2018 WL 690989
(E.D. Mo. Feb. 2, 2018), argue that the Court has previously upheld the use of a restraint
bench “such as one Plaintiff was placed on.” (Doc. 26 at 11.) In Lockhart, the plaintiff
prisoner, who suffered from bipolar disorder, declared to SECC staff that he was homicidal
and suicidal at the same time 11 or 12 other offenders in the same housing unit also declared
they were homicidal. Lockhart was placed on a restraint bench because there were not
enough suicide cells. He claimed that he was left on the restraint bench for 17 hours. The
Court 3 held that, “[i]n light of the extreme disruption to the prison that was caused by an en
masse declaration of suicidal ideations, the placement of plaintiff on a restraint bench for an
extended time cannot be considered an extreme deprivation that implicates constitutional
rights.” Id. at *4. The Court explained that, “Plaintiff had indicated an intention to kill
himself; defendants had nowhere safe to house plaintiff and many other similarly situated
prisoners; the restraint bench was an adequate and effective short-term solution.” The Court
Senior United States District Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr.
noted that the “short duration and benign nature of any discomfort that may have occurred
does not rise to a constitutional violation.” Id.
As Defendants acknowledge, the circumstances under which Lockhart was placed on
the restraint bench were much different from this case. Specifically, unlike Lockhart, here
there was no “extreme disruption to the prison that was caused by an en masse declaration of
suicidal ideations.” Additionally, Lockhart did not claim that he was restrained in a “hog tie”
position, or that Defendants ignored his complaints of pain caused by his restraint. As such,
the undersigned disagrees with Defendants’ statement that the “nature of restraint and
justification” in this case are no different than those in Lockhart. (Doc. 26 at 11.)
Stewart’s allegations that Defendants “hog tied” him to a restraint bench for two
hours for the purpose of inflicting unnecessary pain, ignored his complaints of pain while he
was restrained, refused to allow him to use the restroom forcing him to urinate on himself,
and taunted him about his alleged injuries remain unrefuted. Defendants have either failed to
address these factual allegations at all or have responded to them with bare legal conclusions.
As previously set out, the core judicial inquiry when analyzing excessive force cases
is “whether force was applied in a good-faith effort to maintain or restore discipline,” or
“maliciously and sadistically to cause harm.” Jackson, 866 F.3d at 974. Because Defendants
failed to address Stewart’s alleged facts regarding the method and circumstances of his
restraint, the Court cannot determine whether the force applied was necessary or was applied
maliciously and sadistically to cause harm. Thus, Defendants have not discharged their
burden of establishing entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on Stewart’s excessive use
of force claim.
Similarly, Defendants have not demonstrated entitlement to qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity shields government officials from liability in a § 1983 action unless their
conduct violates a clearly established right of which a reasonable official would have known.
Burnikel v. Fong, 886 F.3d 706, 709 (8th Cir. 2018) (citing Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S.
800, 818 (1982)). To resolve a government official’s claim of qualified immunity, courts
apply a two-part test, asking whether the plaintiff has demonstrated a violation of a
constitutional right and whether that constitutional right was clearly established at the time of
the violation. Williams v. Jackson, 600 F.3d 1007, 1012 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Harlow, 457
U.S. at 818). “When an official’s intent is an element of the § 1983 claim, as it is in Eighth
Amendment excessive force claims, and if the official has made a properly supported motion
for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, the plaintiff ‘must identify affirmative
evidence from which a jury could find that the plaintiff has carried his or her burden of
proving the pertinent motive.’” Burns v. Eaton, 752 F.3d 1136, 1139 (8th Cir. 2014)
(quoting Crawford–El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 600 (1998)).
In the absence of any testimony whatsoever from any of the CO Defendants regarding
their conduct and intent, the Court cannot say Defendants have made “a properly supported
motion for summary judgment” and thus have not established that they are entitled to
qualified immunity as a matter of law. See Burns, 752 F.3d at 1139.
Defendants next argue that the doctrine of official immunity applies to any of
Stewart’s claims against the CO Defendants. Official immunity is a Missouri doctrine that
“protects public employees from liability for alleged acts of negligence committed during the
course of their official duties for the performance of discretionary acts.” Southers v. City of
Farmington, 263 S.W.3d 603, 610 (Mo. 2008). However, official immunity does not apply
to “discretionary acts done in bad faith or with malice.” Id. “A defendant acts with malice
when he wantonly does that which a man of reasonable intelligence would know to be
contrary to his duty and which he intends to be prejudicial or injurious to another.” State ex
rel. Twiehaus v. Adolf, 706 S.W.2d 443, 447 (Mo. banc 1986).
The CO Defendants are not entitled to official immunity. First, official immunity is a
Missouri doctrine and Stewart does not allege any state law claims. Second, official
immunity would not apply because Stewart alleges the CO Defendants acted with malice and
Defendants have not offered any evidence regarding the CO Defendants’ intent.
With regard to Stewart’s MDOC transfer policy claim, Defendants have referred to
such a policy but have not submitted the policy, nor have they otherwise provided any
specific details regarding the policy. For this reason, it cannot be determined whether
Defendant Precythe is liable for authorizing this allegedly unconstitutional MDOC policy.
Defendants also argue that Stewart failed to properly exhaust his claim regarding
MDOC policy in the grievances he filed regarding the incidents at issue, yet Defendants did
not submit the grievances that Stewart filed. The crux of Defendants’ argument is that,
because Stewart admitted in his deposition that he did not specifically refer to “policies” in
his grievances regarding the alleged excessive use of force on the restraint bench, he is
precluded from challenging MDOC policies in the instant action.
The purposes of the exhaustion requirement include “allowing a prison to address
complaints about the program it administers before being subjected to suit, reducing
litigation to the extent complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improving litigation that
does occur by leading to the preparation of a useful record.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199,
219 (2007). The exhaustion requirement is “mandatory.” Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 85
(2006). The excerpt of Stewart’s deposition testimony submitted by Defendants reveals that
Stewart filed grievances regarding the incidents at issue. (Doc. 26-1 at 12-13.) These
grievances gave the MDOC a “fair and full opportunity to adjudicate” Stewart’s claims
related to restraint procedures upon inmate transfer requests. Woodford, 548 U.S. at 90. See
also Jones v. Engle, No. 4:18 CV 984 RWS, 2020 WL 4732047, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 14,
2020) (finding the plaintiff exhausted administrative remedies despite not specifically
addressing the wrongdoing of the defendant because the grievance gave the MDOC the
opportunity to adjudicate the claims against the defendant). Thus, Defendant Precythe has
not demonstrated her entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on Stewart’s claim
regarding MDOC policy.
Accordingly, the MDOC Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment as to Stewart’s
excessive force claims is denied.
Deliberate Indifference to Medical Needs
Stewart also claims that the CO Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs. Specifically, he argues that Defendants refused to obtain medical
treatment for him despite his requests due to his rectal bleeding and pain from the tight
handcuffs. Stewart claims that he experienced nerve damage to his wrist, and injuries to his
rectum, back, and shoulder.
In support of their Motion for Summary Judgment, the CO Defendants argue that they
did not deny Stewart care, Stewart “was afforded the ability to file a health services request
that would allow him to receive medical treatment,” pursuant to “normal policy within
MDOC facilities.” (Doc. 26 at 13.) They further argue that they are “not qualified to make
any medical determinations as to Plaintiff.” Id. They conclude that there “was no delay or
denial of Plaintiff’s medical services.” Id. The only evidence submitted by Defendants in
support of their arguments is the Affidavit of Defendant Dysinger, in which she simply
describes the general process by which inmates request medical care, and states that the CO
Defendants were not qualified to make medical determinations. (Doc. 26-2 at 1.)
“To establish a claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs under §
1983, [Plaintiff] must demonstrate that he suffered from an objectively serious medical need
and that [the officials] actually new of but deliberately disregarded the need.” Santiago v.
Blair, 707 F.3d 984, 990 (8th Cir. 2013). A serious medical need is “one that has been
diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment, or one that is so obvious that even a
layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.” Id. (quoting
Camberos v. Branstad, 73 F.3d 174, 176 (8th Cir. 1995)).
Under the subjective prong, “the evidence must show that the officers recognized that
a substantial risk of harm existed and knew that their conduct was inappropriate in light of
that risk.” Krout v. Goemmer, 583 F.3d 557, 567 (8th Cir. 2009) (emphasis in original).
Deliberate indifference constitutes more than mere negligence. Farmer, 511 U.S. at 835.
Generally, the actor manifests deliberate indifference by “‘intentionally denying or delaying
access to medical care, or intentionally interfering with treatment or medication that has been
prescribed.’” Krout, 583 F.3d at 567 (quoting Pietrafeso v. Lawrence Cnty., 452 F.3d 978,
983 (8th Cir. 2006)).
The Court finds that Defendants have failed to establish entitlement to judgment as a
matter of law on Stewart’s deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim.
Defendants do not address Stewart’s allegations that he complained to the CO Defendants of
wrist pain due to tight handcuffs or rectal pain and bleeding due to his position on the
restraint bench. Instead, Defendants only argue that Stewart was afforded the ability to file a
health services request pursuant to MDOC policy. Stewart clearly was not capable of
completing a form while his hands were cuffed together behind his back and shackled to the
restraint bench. He instead completed this request sometime after he was removed from the
restraint bench and taken to his cell. Significantly, Defendants do not state, and they present
no evidence that Stewart ever received medical treatment for his alleged injuries while at
Medical training was not required for Defendants to determine that an inmate
bleeding from the rectum requires medical attention. See Williams v. Chandler,
4:05CV00661 ERW, 2006 WL 2795382, at *6 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 27, 2006) (“this Court finds
that even a lay person would recognize bleeding from the rectum and spitting up blood as
requiring a doctor’s attention”). Because Stewart’s allegations regarding his rectal pain and
bleeding remain unrefuted by Defendants, Stewart has established the presence of a serious
medical need. Stewart’s allegations that the CO Defendants intentionally denied him access
to medical care demonstrates the subjective component of his deliberate indifference claim.
Accordingly, the MDOC Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.
Defendant Stanley’s Motion for Summary Judgment
Defendant Stanley argues that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because
the undisputed evidence shows that Stewart had no objectively serious medical need and that
Stanley was not deliberately indifferent to any medical need of which he was subjectively
aware. Stanley has provided a detailed summary of Stewart’s institutional medical record, in
addition to a copy of the medical records as exhibits. (Doc. 52-2.) He has also attached as
an exhibit his own sworn declaration (Doc. 52-1) and excerpts of Stewart’s deposition (Doc.
In his separately filed Statement of Uncontroverted Material Facts, Defendant Stanley
states that he does not personally recall the incident that forms the basis of Stewart’s
Complaint. Stanley, however, states that he has never had an inmate on the restraint bench
tell him he was bleeding from the rectum and not further examine him. Stanley states that
the protocol for checking restraints is every two hours when an offender is on the restraint
bench or if requested by security. He states that medical staff does not typically check an
offender’s restraints upon offender request because it is a security risk. If an inmate was
screaming out in pain from his restraints, Stanley indicates he would have checked them to
ensure they were fitting properly if it was safe to do so. Stanley states that, if he did not
check Stewart’s restraints, it was because Stanley was either not aware that Stewart was in
pain, or it was a safety risk to check.
In support of his argument that Stewart had no objectively serious need, Defendant
notes that the record evidence shows that his rectal bleeding was simply due to his longstanding hemorrhoids, for which he was treated with suppositories before he was placed on
the restraint bench. (Doc. 52-2 at pp. 428.) Defendant states that Stewart complained of
wrist pain and numbness prior to May 19, 2017, possibly from a prior restraint bench
occurrence. (Doc. 52-2 at p. 439.) Similarly, Defendant notes that Stewart’s back pain was
caused by an old basketball injury in 2005, and was treated with ibuprofen and Tylenol. Id.
at pp. 385, 393, 458-62, 499-502, 504-05, 516-18.
In Response, Stewart has filed a Declaration in Opposition to Defendant Stanley’s
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 56.) In this document, Stewart repeats the allegations
from his Complaint as follows: he was denied medical attention while he was restrained in a
sitting hog tie position for several hours; while Defendant Stanley was making rounds in the
unit, Stewart notified him that his cuffs were cutting off his circulation, that he was
experiencing pain throughout his body, and that his rectum felt as though it was bleeding;
and Defendant Stanley refused to check the restraints or render any medical assistance and
instead stated “you shouldn’t have checked out of the cell...” (Doc. 56 at p. 1.) Defendant
Stanley did not file a Reply.
The Court finds that Defendant Stanley has failed to establish his entitlement to
judgment as a matter of law. Stanley argues that Stewart did not have a medical need either
“diagnosed by a physician as requiring treatment” or “so obvious that even a layperson
would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.” (Doc. 51 at 10.) The
undersigned disagrees. The medical records submitted by Stanley reveal that Stewart had
previously been diagnosed with hemorrhoids. It is reasonable that Stewart’s restraint on the
bench as he describes would exacerbate this condition and cause bleeding. Additionally, the
Court has already found that bleeding from the rectum is so obvious that even a layperson
would recognize the necessity for medical attention.
As to the subjective component of Stewart’s claim, Stewart alleges that he notified
Defendant Stanley of his pain and bleeding rectum, and Defendant Stanley refused to render
any medical assistance, instead stating that Stewart should not have checked out of his cell.
If Stewart’s account of the event is true, then a reasonable jury could find Defendant Stanley
was deliberately indifferent to Stewart’s serious medical needs when he was told about
Stewart’s rectal bleeding and failed to render medical assistance. Stanley does not
specifically deny Stewart’s allegations but, rather, states that he “does not personally recall
the incident.” (Doc. 52-1 at 2.)
The Court may not “weigh the evidence in the summary judgment record,
decide credibility questions, or determine the truth of any factual issue.” Kampouris v. St.
Louis Symphony Soc., 210 F.3d 845, 847 (8th Cir. 2000). The Court instead “perform[s]
only a gatekeeper function of determining whether there is evidence in
the summary judgment record generating a genuine issue of material fact for trial on each
essential element of a claim.” Id.
The Court finds that there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether
Defendant Stanley was deliberately indifferent to Stewart’s serious medical needs.
Accordingly, Defendant Stanley’s Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the MDOC Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. 26) is denied.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant
Cody Stanley (Doc. 50) is denied.
/s/ Abbie Crites-Leoni
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Dated this 4th day of June, 2021.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?