Whittington et al v. Isgrig et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion of defendant Mark Isgrig for summary judgment against plaintiffs Victoria Whittington, Maegen Bright, and Sondra Loness (Doc. 93 ) is sustained in part and denied in part. IT IS FURTHER O RDERED that the motion of defendants George Lombardi and Angela Mesmer for summary judgment against plaintiffs Victoria Whittington, Maegen Bright, and Sondra Loness (Doc 95) is sustained. Plaintiffs claims against defendants Lombardi and Mesmer are dismissed with prejudice. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the final pretrial conference is set for Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in St. Louis. Pretrial compliance documents are to be filed on or before June 22, 2015. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is set for a jury trial in Hannibal, Missouri, on Monday, July 13, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. Trial is expected to last 2-3 days. ( Jury Trial set for 7/13/2015 09:00 AM in Northern Division - Hannibal before Magistrate Judge David D. Noce., Pretrial Conference set for 7/7/2015 02:00 PM in Courtroom 17N before Magistrate Judge David D. Noce., Pretrial Compliance due by 6/22/2015.) Signed by Magistrate Judge David D. Noce on 5/20/15. (JAB)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
MAEGEN BRIGHT, and
MARK ANTHONY ISGRIG,
GEORGE LOMBARDI, and
ANGELA PEARL, now known as
No. 2:13 CV 16 DDN
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This action is before the court on the motions of defendants Mark Anthony Isgrig
(Doc. 93) and George Lombardi and Angela Mesmer (Doc. 95) for summary judgment.
The court heard oral argument on May 13, 2015.
I. PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS
Following earlier rulings in this case, plaintiffs Victoria Whittington, Maegen
Bright, and Sondra Loness, allege that, while when they were sentenced Missouri state
prisoners, defendant Isgrig, then a Missouri state correctional officer, intentionally and
improperly touched their breasts for his sexual gratification when he conducted pat down
procedures in the Missouri State Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and
Correctional Center (WRDC). Plaintiffs seek relief against Isgrig and two officials of the
Missouri Department of Corrections, defendants Lombardi and Mesmer.
Before the court are plaintiffs’ claims for relief against all three defendants in their
individual capacities under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
under Missouri state common law:
Counts 1, 8, and 16 allege against defendant Isgrig a violation of plaintiffs’ Eighth
Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment;
Counts 2, 9, and 17 allege against defendant Isgrig the Missouri common law tort
of outrageous conduct;
Counts 3, 10, and 18 allege against defendants Isgrig and Lombardi claims under
the Eighth Amendment for a failure to train ;
Counts 4, 11, and 19 allege against defendants Lombardi and Mesmer a claim
under the Eighth Amendment for their failure to protect plaintiffs out of deliberate
Counts 5, 12, and 20, allege against all defendants a claim under the Eighth
Amendment for a failure to protect out of gross negligence or reckless indifference;
Counts 6, 13, and 21, allege against defendants Lombardi and Mesmer a claim
under the Eighth Amendment for the deliberate failure to use adequate procedures; and,
Counts 7, 14, and 22, allege against defendants Lombardi and Mesmer a claim
under the Eighth Amendment for a failure to use adequate procedures out of reckless
indifference or gross negligence.
Plaintiffs seek substantial actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and
II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
Courts must grant summary judgment when the pleadings and the proffered
evidence demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). “When the moving party has carried its burden under
Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical
doubt as to the material facts . . . . Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.”
Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 381 (2007) (internal citation omitted). A fact is “material”
if it could affect the ultimate disposition of the case, and a factual dispute is “genuine” if
there is substantial evidence to support a reasonable jury verdict in favor of the
nonmoving party. Rademacher v. HBE Corp., 645 F.3d 1005, 1010 (8th Cir. 2011).
Stated another way, the party defending the motion must "make a showing sufficient to
establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party
will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
The court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party and accord it the benefit of all reasonable inferences. Scott, 550 U.S. at 379. The
nonmoving party must proffer “affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly
supported motion for summary judgement.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 257 (1986); Iverson v. Johnson Gas Appliance Co., 172 F.3d 524, 530 (8th Cir.
If the nonmoving party fails to proffer substantial evidence of an essential
element of a claim, summary judgement is appropriate on that claim because “a complete
failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party’s case
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323; St. Jude Med.,
Inc. v. Lifecare Intern., Inc., 250 F.3d 587, 595 (8th Cir. 2001).
III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND1
The proffered evidence submitted on the motions for summary judgment indicates
that the following facts are without genuine dispute.
Defendant Mark Isgrig was employed by the Missouri Department of Corrections
(MDOC) as a Correctional Officer I at the Women’s Reception and Diagnostic Center
(WRDC). (Doc. 94-2 at 8.) Rachel Henke is a Correctional Officer II at WRDC and was
defendant Isgrig’s direct supervisor. (Doc. 96-10 at 8.) Defendant Angela Mesmer is the
warden at WRDC. (Doc. 96-6 at 6.) Defendant George Lombardi is MDOC’s Director.
All document references are to the court’s CM/ECF document number and attachment number.
(Doc. 96-7 at ¶ 2.) Joey E. Runyan is an investigator in District 1 of MDOC, which
includes WRDC. (Doc. 96-8 at 11.)
Correctional officers are trained on pat down procedures in basic training when
they begin their employment. (Docs. 96-6 at 10; 96-9 at 7, 9; 96-10 at 8–9.) Defendant
Isgrig received training on proper pat down procedures when he started working at
MDOC in 2005 or 2006. (Doc. 96-6 at 10.) Isgrig’s last frisk search training was in
(Doc. 100-1 at 10.)
There are policy books, which include the
procedures for proper pat down searches in the training rooms, control centers, shift
supervisors offices, and on the computers where corrections officers can review them.
(Docs. 96-6 at 11; 100-1 at 8.)
The proper pat down procedure of a female offender is for a male or female
correctional officer to stand behind and reach around her. (Docs. 96-5 at 17–18; 96-8 at
15–16; 96-9 at 10–11; 96-10 at 11–13, 25–26.) The thumb of each hand of the officer is
folded in and the hand, thumb in, is placed between the offender’s breasts. (Docs. 96-5 at
17–18; 96-8 at 15–16; 96-9 at 10–11; 96-10 at 11–13, 25–26.) The officer’s hand then
goes under the contour of the bra line, palm side down. (Docs. 96-5 at 17–18; 96-8 at
15–16; 96-9 at 10–11; 96-10 at 11–13, 25–26.) The back of the hand then goes across the
top of the breast. (Docs. 96-5 at 17–18; 96-8 at 15–16; 96-9 at 10–11; 96-10 at 11–13,
25–26.) Officers should only use the backs of their hands, and the palm should never
touch an offender’s breast. (Docs. 96-5 at 17–18; 96-8 at 15–16; 96-9 at 10–11; 96-10 at
11–13, 25–26.) If an offender is ever uncomfortable with any male correctional officer
performing a pat down search, she may ask for a female correctional officer to perform
the search instead. (Docs. 96-5 at 21; 96-10 at 23.)
Defendant Lombardi does not have any personal involvement in the day-to-day
operations at WRDC and he had no direct responsibility to train or supervise Mesmer or
Isgrig. (Doc. 96-7 ¶¶ 5–6.) Lombardi does not personally conduct training or develop
training programs, classes, or policies. (Id.) He had no knowledge of improper pat down
searches at WRDC by Isgrig or any other correctional officer. (Id at ¶¶ 4, 7.)
Plaintiff Victoria Whittington was incarcerated at WRDC from December 26,
2010 to March 24, 2013. (Doc. 94-3 at 9.) Defendant Isgrig fondled Whittington two
times. (Id. at 19–20.) Also he performed pat down searches on her more often than other
inmates. (Id.) Isgrig performed these searches in areas not visible to cameras or other
officers. (Docs. 94-2 at 20; 100-1 at 6.) One fondling occurred in April 2011. (Doc. 943 at 29.)
Whittington complained to Corrections Officer Ames and he informed
Whittington that she could file a grievance. (Id. at 29–30.) Whittington did not file a
grievance at that time. (Id. at 30.) MDOC investigator Runyan questioned Whittington
regarding defendant Isgrig in June 2011. (Id. at 32.) Whittington and other offenders
would pose sexually in their rooms when Isgrig came, in order to excite and cause him to
become flustered, because they found his reactions funny.
(Doc. 100-1 at 6.)
Whittington did not seek medical or psychological treatment as a result of Isgrig’s
assaults on her. (Doc. 94-8 at 7.) Whittington feels scared, humiliated, embarrassed, and
violated due to the actions of Isgrig. (Id. at 6.) Whittington also experiences insomnia
and a fear of all correctional officers. (Id.)
Plaintiff Maegen Bright was incarcerated at WRDC from some time in December
2010 to April 29, 2013, and again from April 22, 2014 to the present. (Doc. 94-4 at 7–8.)
Bright was frisked by Isgrig between 25 and 50 times, and inappropriately two or three
times. (Id. at 18.) During these inappropriate pat down searches Isgrig used his hands,
palms up, and grabbed Bright’s breasts. (Id.) Bright complained to Corrections Officer
Ames. (Doc. 94-7 at 5.) Bright also discussed the matter with MDOC Investigator
Runyan. (Docs. 94-7 at 6; 100-1 at 11–12.) She never sought medical or psychological
treatment as a result of Isgrig’s assaults on her. (Docs. 94-4 at 34; 94-7 at 7–8.) Bright
felt shocked, angry, uncomfortable, embarrassed, and ashamed after Isgrig fondled her.
(Docs. 94-4 at 34; 94-7 at 6–7.) Bright also feels anxiety whenever a corrections officer
approaches her. (Doc. 94-7 at 6.)
Plaintiff Sondra Loness was incarcerated at WRDC from January 18, 2011 to July
28, 2011; from June 12, 2013 to August 6, 2014; and again from January 16, 2015 to the
present. (Doc. 94-5 at 7–8.) Loness was frisked by Isgrig frequently and all of the
searches were inappropriate. (Doc. 94-5 at 16–17, 19; 94-7 at 7.) Isgrig searched Loness
in locations that could not be observed by other corrections officers. (Doc. 94-7 at 7.)
Loness discussed the matter with MDOC Investigator Runyan. (Id.) Loness never sought
treatment or psychological counseling as a result of these assaults, but did seek it due to
trauma experienced during her childhood. (Doc. 94-6 at 8.) Loness is in constant
emotional distress from the assaults by Isgrig. (Id.) Loness feels shame, humiliation, and
anxiety as a result of these assaults. (Id.) She sometimes has panic attacks due to
Isgrig’s fondling of her. (Id.)
On or about April 6, 2011, inmate L.B.2 complained to a prison chaplain regarding
an officer performing improper pat down searches, but she did not identify the officer by
name. (Docs. 96-5 at 25; 96-8 at 22; 100-1 at 2.) L.B. stated that the officer stared at her
breasts, buttocks, and genitals and then groped her breasts on April 6, 2011. (Doc. 100-1
at 2). Sometime between April 6 and 12, 2011, L.B. wrote a letter to the warden,
defendant Angela Mesmer, complaining of lewd and inappropriate behavior by an
unidentified corrections officer. (Id.) L.B. was immediately moved, at her request, to
administrative segregation and was transferred to a different prison on April 19, 2011.
(Docs. 96-5 at 32; 96-6 at 21–22; 96-8 at 121.)
On April 7, 2011, an interoffice
memorandum was sent by the prison chaplain to the deputy warden documenting L.B.’s
complaint regarding an unidentified corrections officer. (Doc. 96-6 at 17–18.) On April
8, 2011, Mesmer ordered an investigation of the allegations of improper pat down
searches. (Docs. 96-5 at 26, 30; 96-6 at 16.)
On April 12, 2011, MDOC Investigator Runyan began his investigation by
reviewing the complaint letter L.B. sent to the warden’s office regarding inappropriate
behavior by an unidentified officer. On April 18, 2011, Runyan interviewed L.B., who
gave him a general description of the offending officer. (Doc. 100-1 at 3.) Runyan then
reviewed the time logs and surveillance tapes from April 6, 2011 and matched L.B.’s
description with Isgrig. (Docs. 96-8 at 23; 100-1 at 3.)
Inmates who are asserted to be sexual assault victims and are not parties to this suit are
identified by their initials only.
There was a pause in Runyan’s investigation between April 6, 2011 and June 1,
2011. (Docs. 96-5 at 32; 96-8 at 24–25; 100-1 at 3.) During this time Isgrig was still an
active corrections officer working in the housing unit. (Docs. 96-5 at 35–36; 96-6 at 34;
96-8 at 25.) Runyan interviewed complaint L.B. before she was transferred. (Doc. 96-8
at 25.) After that interview he returned to investigating his older cases. (Id.)
At the beginning of June 2011, Runyan began interviewing other staff at WRDC.
(Doc. 100-1 at 3–4.) On June 6, 2011 Runyan interviewed L.B.’s former cellmates who
did not confirm L.B.’s accusations. (Id. at 4.) Runyan, however, was provided another
possible victim’s name by a cleaning porter at the prison. (Id.) Offender M.G. provided
Runyan with a written statement regarding Isgrig’s actions. (Id. at 4–5.) Isgrig ogled her
breasts, used a palms upward technique to search around her breasts, and then lifted and
squeezed her breasts. (Id. at 5.) M.G. believed that Isgrig had an obsession with largebreasted women. (Id. at 5.) M.G. provided additional victims’ names: M.L., V.B., and
Victoria Whittington. (Id.) Neither M.L. nor V.B. accused Isgrig of acting improperly.
(Id. at 6, 8.) Victoria Whittington, however, allowed Runyan to conduct a recorded audio
interview regarding Isgrig’s behavior. (Docs. 94-2 at 32; 94-8 at 3–5; 100-1 at 6.) Her
description of his actions is detailed above. Whittington also provided Runyan with the
names of other possible victims: B.V. and Sondra Loness. (Doc 100-1 at 6.) Runyan
interviewed Loness who described the same actions by Isgrig: frisking out of view of
other officers or surveillance cameras, excessive searches, targeting Caucasian largebreasted women. Loness could not remember at that time if Isgrig patted her down palms
up or palms down. (Id. at 7.) All offenders who cooperated with Runyan stated it was
common knowledge among the inmate population in Housing Unit 2 that Isgrig was
performing improper searches for his own pleasure. (Id. at 3–8, 11–12.)
On June 13, 2011, Runyan set up a covert camera to document Isgrig’s searches.
(Id. at 9.) On June 14, 2011, Runyan observed Isgrig perform fourteen female offender
frisk searches, and noted the following details: only Caucasians were searched, all
offenders appeared mid-30s or younger, most offenders could be described as fullfigured, and all searches were done in contradiction to policy. (Id.) On June 16, 2014,
Runyan asked Sergeant Hendren to observe Isgrig conduct searches from a location
where Isgrig could see him but would not suspect he was being surveilled. (Id.) All
searches during this time were performed on female African American offenders without
incident. (Id.) Sergeant Hendren then observed Isgrig covertly. (Id.) These searches
were conducted on approximately 10–15 offenders. All female offenders were Caucasian
and Isgrig did not follow MDOC proper frisk procedures. (Id.) In one case Isgrig ran his
hand alongside the breast of an offender. (Id.) All offenders looked disgusted with
Isgrig’s actions. (Id.). Sergeant Hendren stated, “[i]n conclusion, it appears to me that
CO I Isgrig knows how to perform a proper frisk search on a female offender; however,
at times, he chooses not to in order to gain some form of personal gratification, whether
that be sexual in nature or another form of control over the female offender.” (Id.)
On June 20, 2011, Runyan interviewed Isgrig. (Id. at 9–10.) This interview was
audio recorded and Isgrig provided a written statement. (Id. at 9, 11.) Isgrig stated he
never conducts improper pat downs and that he has never had a formal complaint against
him regarding improper pat downs. (Id. at 10.) He claimed that he stayed away from
searching large breasted women because “I have to lean around and make sure I hit the
right places.” (Id.) He stated that, if an offender was complaining he went over the top
of the breasts, “that is not true” and “[n]ow, I know that would be strictly wrong.” (Id. at
10–11.) Isgrig also denied that he was getting any kind of gratification from searching
offenders. (Id. at 10–11).
On June 21, 2011, Runyan conducted an audio recorded interview with victim
offender M.B. (Id. at 11.) M.B. stated that Isgrig does his searches in a location different
from other guards.
Until recently M.B. did not realize that Isgrig’s searches were
On or about June 9, 2011, M.B. spoke with Maegan Bright who
described how Isgrig was searching her and was very upset by it. (Id.) M.B. realized the
searches were improper and she contacted Corrections Officer Ames. (Id.) M.B. was
referred to Beverly Little, the Functional Unit Manager. (Id.) M.B. stated Isgrig would
bump her genital area with his hands as he worked his way up her leg from the knee.
(Id.) Then he would put his hands, palms up, cupping her breasts and lift them high.
(Id.) M.B. stated she was unaware of an investigation of Isgrig. (Id.)
On June 22, 2011, Runyan conducted an audio recorded interview with victim
offender Maegan Bright. (Id.) Bright also provided a written statement. (Id.) She stated
Isgrig put both hands around her breasts, palms-up and lifted them very high
simultaneously. (Id. at 12.) Other offenders in her housing wing complained of the same
actions by Isgrig and Bright complained to M.B. (Id.) Bright provided another possible
victim’s name: M.P. (Id.)
On June 22, 2011, Runyan conducted an audio recorded interview with M.P. (Id.)
She would not cooperate because she did not want to become involved in an investigation
so close to her upcoming parole hearing. (Id.) She stated that, if Isgrig attempted to
search her again though, she intended to refuse. (Id.)
On June 27, 2011, Runyan conducted a second audio recorded interview with
Isgrig. (Id.) Runyan advised Isgrig that new evidence was obtained and that this now
was a criminal investigation. (Id. at 13.) Runyan informed Isgrig that by policy he is not
required to make any statements that might incriminate him. (Id.) Isgrig agreed to
answer questions. (Id.) Isgrig was informed of the specific complaints by M.B. and
Bright. Isgrig was “shocked” that those inmates would accuse him because they were
both “good offenders.” (Id.) Isgrig denied all claims. (Id.) Runyan showed him the
video of his improper searches. (Id.) Isgrig’s explanation was that he was doing “sloppy
searching” but stated he had no “criminal intent.”
Isgrig provided a written
Shortly after June 27, 2011, Mesmer transferred Isgrig from duties inside the
Housing Unit to a location where he had no contact with offenders. (Docs. 96-5 at 35;
96-6 at 34.) Thereafter, Isgrig never performed any more searches of inmates at WRDC.
(Doc. 96-6 at 114–15.)
Shortly after this reassignment, Isgrig was transferred to
Northeast Correctional Center (NECC) which houses only male inmates. (Docs. 96-5 at
34–35; 96-6 at 34–35.)
WRDC officials received two official complaints about Isgrig’s searches: one
from M.B. and one from L.B. (Docs. 96-5 at 32, 49–50; 96-6 at 21–22; 96-8 at 120–21;
96-9 at 15–16.)
On July 20, 2011, Mesmer conducted a pre-disciplinary meeting with Isgrig.
(Docs. 96-5 at 36; 96-6 at 37.) On August 1, 2011, Mesmer requested disciplinary action
for Isgrig. (Doc. 96-6 at 54, 58.)
On August 10, 2011, Runyan filed probable cause affidavits with the Audrain
County Prosecutor stating there is probable cause to believe that Isgrig had committed
sexual misconduct, first degree, under Rev. Mo. Stat. 566.090. (Docs. 100-2; 100-3; 1004.)
On January 21, 2012, Isgrig pled guilty to two counts of third degree assault. State
v. Isgrig, 11AU-CR00560-01.3 He was sentenced to fifteen days in the county jail, but
that was suspended and he was placed on two years of supervised probation and ordered
to perform 100 hours community service. Id.
On January 31, 2012, Mesmer requested another pre-disciplinary meeting with
Isgrig, which was scheduled for February 6, 2012. (Doc. 96-6 at 79–81.) On January 31,
2012, Isgrig was placed on administrative leave which lasted until his termination on
April 13, 2012. (Docs. 96-6 at 82, 92.) A letter from MDOC dated April 3, 2012,
detailing the reasons for his termination was sent to Isgrig. (Doc. 100-5.) It stated his
actions “constitute disgraceful conduct that brought the state service into public
disrepute” and that his actions were in violation of MDOC policies and procedures.
(Doc. 100-5 at 1–2.)
The court takes judicial notice of defendant Isgrig’s guilty plea from Case.net,
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Missouri State Law Claims of Outrageous Conduct (Counts 2, 9, 17)
Plaintiffs allege claims of outrageous conduct, under Missouri state tort law,
against only defendant Isgrig. Isgrig argues that plaintiffs fail to satisfy the requisite
level of resulting severe emotional distress.
In order to prove a claim of outrageous conduct under Missouri law, the plaintiff
must prove: (1) defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; (2) defendant acted in
an intentional or reckless manner; and (3) defendant caused the plaintiff severe emotional
distress. See Hanks v. Gen. Motors Corp., 859 F.2d 67, 69 (8th Cir. 1988) (citing
LaBrier v. Anheuser Ford, Inc., 612 S.W.2d 790, 793 (Mo. 1981)); accord Bass v.
Nooney, 646 S.W.2d 765, 772–73 (Mo. 1983) (abrogating requirement of a
contemporaneous physical injury). The parties do not dispute whether there has been
proffered substantial evidence that Isgrig’s conduct was extreme and outrageous or
whether it was intentional or reckless. (Docs. 94, 100.)
“It is for the court to determine, in the first instance whether the defendants’
conduct may reasonably be regarded as so extreme and outrageous as to permit
recovery.” Frye v. CBS, Inc., 671 S.W.2d 316, 319 (Mo. Ct. App. 1984). “If, after
drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the claimant, the court finds that the
question of extreme and outrageous conduct is reasonably debatable, the issue should go
to the jury.” Princess House, Inc. v. Lindsey, 918 F. Supp. 1356, 1372 (W.D. Mo. 1994)
(quoting Frye, 671 S.W.2d at 319). In this case, that issue will be presented to the jury.
The parties dispute whether plaintiffs’ injuries are legally sufficient to sustain
verdicts in their favor.
Although some proof of a diagnosable injury is required,
medically documented injuries, either physical or emotional, are not required for
intentional emotional torts. Bogan v. Gen. Motors Corp., 500 F.3d 828, 832 (citing State
ex rel. Dean v. Cunningham, 182 S.W.3d 561, 566 n.4 (Mo. 2006) (en banc)). The harm
must be both medically significant and diagnosable.
Bass, 646 S.W.2d at 772–73.
Further, it is not necessary that the emotional distress manifests itself as a physical injury.
Id.; Restatement (Third) of Torts § 46 cmt. g, l (2012). This requirement of an “impact
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injury” was abrogated in Bass. 646 S.W.2d at 769–73. “Severe harm must be proved,
but in many cases the extreme and outrageous character of the defendant’s conduct is
itself important evidence bearing on whether the requisite degree of harm resulted[.]”
Anthan v. Prof’l Air Traffic Controllers Org., 672 F.2d 706, 710–11 (8th Cir. 1982)
(quoting Restatement (Third) of Torts § 46 cmt. j).
Plaintiffs have reported the following symptoms. Whittington feels scared and
offended, is unable to sleep, and has nightmares. (Doc. 94-8 at 5–7). Plaintiff Bright
feels humiliation, shock, anxiety, and apprehension around corrections officers. (Docs.
94-4 at 34; 94-7 at 6–7.) Plaintiff Loness describes her symptoms as shame, humiliation,
and anxiety resulting in panic attacks.
(Docs. 94-1 ¶ 21; 94-6 at 7–8.) Although
defendant argues that these symptoms are not sufficient to meet Missouri’s threshold for
liability, reasonable jurors could disagree. It is up to a jury to decide whether these
symptoms qualify as severe emotional distress under Missouri law.
Therefore, defendant Isgrig’s motion for summary judgment as to Counts 2, 9, and
17 is denied.
Eighth Amendment Claim for Failure to Train (Counts 3, 10, 18)
Plaintiffs allege that defendant Isgrig was not trained properly and therefore could
not properly execute his duties as a corrections officer. Plaintiffs also allege that
defendants did not retrain staff after prior incidents of deviant sexual conduct, which
resulted in the violation of plaintiffs’ civil rights.
Defendant Isgrig argues that he cannot be held to have improperly trained himself
and that liability for failure to train an officer lies, if at all, with the government or
To succeed on this claim, plaintiffs must prove that, “(1) the
[prison’s] . . . training practices [were] inadequate; (2) the [prison] was deliberately
indifferent to the rights of others in adopting them, such that the ‘failure to train reflects a
deliberate or conscious choice by [the prison]’; and (3) an alleged deficiency in the . . .
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training procedures actually caused the plaintiff’s injury.” Parrish v. Ball, 594 F.3d 993,
997 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Andrews v. Fowler, 98 F.3d 1069, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)).
The evidence presented in defendant Isgrig’s motion for summary judgment shows
that Isgrig was not responsible for training correctional officers, let alone himself.
Officers, including Isgrig, receive pat down training in basic training. (Doc. 96-6 at 10;
96-9 at 9). All officers also have a minimum annual training requirement imposed by the
Department of Corrections. (Doc. 96-9 at 7.) There are policy books in the training
rooms, control rooms, and the shift supervisors’ offices, and on the prison computers for
officers to review at any time. (Doc. 96-10 at 11.) Additionally, no evidence has been
proffered that shows that defendant Isgrig was responsible for training anyone.
Therefore, his motion for summary judgment as to Counts 3, 10, and 18 for failure
to train is sustained.
In order to find a supervisor liable for a subordinate’s failure to train, plaintiffs
must show, “(1) the [prison’s] . . . training practices [were] inadequate; (2) the [prison]
was deliberately indifferent to the rights of others in adopting them, such that the ‘failure
to train reflects a deliberate or conscious choice by [the prison]’; and (3) an alleged
deficiency in the . . . training procedures actually caused the plaintiff’s injury.” Parrish,
594 F.3d at 999 (quoting Andrews, 98 F.3d at 1076). Supervisor liability cannot be based
on the theory of respondeat superior. Tlamka v. Serrell, 244 F.3d 628, 635 (8th Cir.
2001). Plaintiffs must show the supervisor “directly participated in a constitutional
violation or if a failure to properly supervise and train the offending employee caused a
deprivation of constitutional rights.” Id. (quoting Andrews, 98 F.3d at 1078).
The uncontroverted evidence proffered by defendant Mesmer shows the following.
First, all corrections officers undergo pat down training during basic training and annual
training. (Doc. 96 at ¶¶ 9, 10.) Second, written policies and procedures include the
proper method for pat down searches of offenders. (Doc. 96 at 11.) Finally, these
policies and procedures are available in locations throughout the prison.
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Additionally, Isgrig’s supervisor, Sergeant Hendren, concluded that Isgrig knew how to
do a proper search of female inmates, but chose not to. (Docs. 96-8 at 90–91; 100-1 at 9.)
Defendant Isgrig himself admitted that he knew how to conduct a proper search, but said
he was “sloppy” with his search procedures. (Docs. 96-8 at 90–91; 100-1 at 13.)
The plaintiffs have failed to show that the prison’s training practices were
inadequate or that there was a “deliberate or conscious choice” to not properly train
Therefore, defendant Mesmer’s motion for summary judgment as to Counts 3, 10,
and 18 is sustained.
Eighth Amendment Claim for Failure to Protect (Counts 4, 11, 19)
Plaintiffs have alleged that defendants Lombardi and Mesmer were deliberately
indifferent to the protection of the plaintiffs against the actions of Isgrig, in violation of
42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Doc. 75 7–9, 18–19, 29–30.) Plaintiffs must prove that (1) there was
a substantial risk of harm to the plaintiff inmate, and (2) that a prison official knew of the
risk, but recklessly disregarded the risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994). It
is not enough that the prison official should have perceived the risk; the official must
have actually perceived the risk and chose to ignore it. Id. at 837–38.
Defendant Mesmer argues that she was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiffs’
safety regarding possible sexual assault by corrections officers, including Isgrig.
The uncontroverted facts show that upon learning that there was a possibility of a
male corrections officer improperly patting down female inmates, Mesmer ordered an
investigation. (Docs. 96-5 at 2, 30; 96-6 at 16–18.) Prior to the issue with Isgrig there
had been no complaints regarding searches. (Doc. 96-5 at 49–50.) The identity of the
corrections officer was unknown until approximately April 18, 2011. (Doc. 100-1 at 3.)
As soon as investigator Runyan verified the initial complaint with other inmates and
recorded Isgrig performing improper searches, Mesmer removed Isgrig from contact with
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the inmate population. (Docs. 96-5 at 35; 96-6 at 34.) Then MDOC removed him from
the female prison entirely. (Docs. 96-5 at 34–35; 96-6 at 34–35.) Runyan filed a
probable cause statement with the Audrain County prosecutor and Isgrig was charged
with sexual misconduct, first degree. (Docs. 100-2; 100-3; 100-4); State v. Isgrig, 11AUCR00560-01. After Isgrig pled guilty to a lesser charge on January 21, 2012, he was
placed on administrated leave and terminated as of April 13, 2012. (Docs. 96-6 at 79–82,
The undisputed record indicates that Mesmer was not deliberately indifferent to
the risk posed by Isgrig. Before this incident with Isgrig she had no reason to suspect any
corrections officer of sexual assault. Mesmer could not just assume that corrections
officers were going to commit sexual assault.
See Parish, 594 F.3d at 999 (“[a]n
objectively reasonable officer would know that it is impermissible to touch a detainee’s
sexual organs by forcible compulsion.”) Every corrections officer undergoes a yearly
background check. (Doc. 96-6 at 90.) After learning of a possible issue, she took
immediate steps to identify the suspect and confirm the allegations. See Gregoire v.
Class, 236 F.3d 413, 417 (8th Cir. 2000) (even if the risk is known, it is not deliberate
indifference if officials reasonably respond) (internal citation omitted). Once confirmed,
Isgrig was removed from contact with inmates.
Defendant Lombardi argues that he did not have any personal involvement in any
of the allegations in the complaint. Therefore, he could not have been deliberately
indifferent in protecting plaintiffs from Isgrig.
Although defendant Lombardi has been the MDOC Director since January 2009,
he does not have any direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of the prisons.
(Doc. 96-7 at 2.) He is not involved in the training of either Isgrig or Mesmer. (Id.) No
substantial evidence has been proffered that he could have known of the potential risk
posed by Isgrig.
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The undisputed evidence presented shows that neither Mesmer nor Lombardi were
deliberately indifferent to the risk posed by Isgrig.
Therefore, their motion for summary judgment on Counts 4, 11, and 19 is
Eighth Amendment Claim of Failure to Protect (Counts 5, 12, and 20)
Plaintiffs argue that all defendants acted with reckless indifference and/or gross
negligence in failing to protect them from the risk posed by Isgrig. (Doc. 75 at 9–10, 19–
20, 30–32.) Defendants counter that the proper standard for this claim is deliberate
indifference not reckless indifference and/or gross negligence. (Docs. 94 at 8–9; 96 at
As previously discussed, in order to prove a section 1983 claim regarding a failure
to protect, plaintiffs must show: (1) there was a substantial risk of harm and (2) that a
prison official knew of the risk, but recklessly disregarded the risk. Farmer, 511 U.S. at
834. It is not enough that the prison official should have perceived the risk; the official
must have actually perceived the risk and chose to ignore it. Id. at 837–38. The prison
official has to have a “sufficiently culpable state of mind” of deliberate indifference to the
inmate’s health or safety. See Id. at 834; Fields v. Abbot, 652 F.3d 886, 894 (8th Cir.
2011) (gross negligence not enough); Davis v. Oregon Cnt’y, Missouri, 601 F.3d 543,
548–49 (8th Cir. 2010).
Therefore, the defendants’ motions for summary judgement as to Counts 5, 12,
and 20 are sustained.
Eighth Amendment Claim of Failure to use Adequate Procedures (Counts 6,
13, and 21)
Plaintiffs argue that the defendants deliberately failed to use adequate procedures,
thereby subjecting them to the risk of being exposed to a sexual deviant. (Doc. 75 at 10–
12, 21–22, 32–33.) Plaintiffs also argue that there were inadequate procedures in place to
prevent the alleged assault. Defendants argue that these claims merely restate Counts 3,
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4, 10, 11, 18, and 19. In the alternative defendants argue that there is no constitutional
right to certain procedures and prison policies. (Doc. 96 at 12–13.)
The undisputed evidence shows that the prison had adequate training procedures
in place. The administrative process to discipline and remove correctional officers who
have violated policies is also adequate. There has been no evidence proffered that either
Mesmer or Lombardi was deliberately indifferent to plaintiffs’ health and safety by either
not having or not enforcing adequate training and administrative procedures.
Therefore, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment with regards to Counts
6, 13, and 21 is sustained.
Eighth Amendment Claim of Failure to use Adequate Procedures with
Reckless Indifference and/or Gross Negligence (Counts 7, 14, and 22)
Plaintiffs argue that all defendants acted with reckless indifference and/or gross
negligence in failing to use adequate procedures regarding pat downs of female prisoners
by male corrections officers. (Doc. 75 at 12–14, 22–24, 33–35.) Defendants argue that
there is no constitutional right to have certain procedures. (Docs. 94 at 8–9; 96 at 12.)
The standard for section 1983 claims, even those involving safety measures, is
deliberate indifference, not any form of negligence. See Davis, 601 F.3d at 548–49 (fire
precautions and procedures evaluated under a deliberate indifference standard). There is
no constitutional entitlement to a specific correctional procedure, absent deliberate
indifference by a defendant.
Therefore, defendants’ motion for summary judgment with regards to Counts 7,
14, and 22 is sustained.
Defendant Lombardi and Mesmer’s Qualified Immunity
In the alternative both defendants Lombardi and Mesmer argue that they are
protected from suit under qualified immunity. (Doc. 96 at 13.) Defendants argue that
they are shielded if they have performed their duties reasonably. (Id.).
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“Qualified immunity protects a government official from liability in a section
1983 action unless the official’s conduct violated a clearly established constitutional or
statutory right of which a reasonable person would have known.” Henderson v. Munn,
439 F.3d 497, 501 (8th Cir. 2006.) Qualified immunity is a two-part test:
1) Whether, after viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the party
asserting the injury, there was a deprivation of a constitutional or
statutory right; and if so
2) whether the right was clearly established at the time of the deprivation
such that a reasonable official would understand his conduct was
unlawful in the situation he confronted.
Henderson, 439 F.3d at 501–02.
An official is liable for violating bright lines regarding constitutional rights. Davis
v. Hall, 375 F.3d 703, 712 (8th Cir. 2004). If either part of the test is answered in the
negative, then the official is entitled to qualified immunity. Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S.
194, 2011 (2001). It is up to the court to determine “which of the two prongs of the
qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in light of the circumstances in the
particular case at hand.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 236 (2009).
The court will address only the first prong of the qualified immunity test, because
Mesmer and Lombardi’s actions did not amount to the violation of clearly established
constitutional right. See Parrish, 594 F.3d at 1001. In order for either Mesmer or
Lombardi to have violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by failing to supervise Isgrig,
plaintiffs must show Mesmer and Lombardi: (1) received notice of a pattern of
unconstitutional acts committed by subordinates; (2) demonstrated deliberate indifference
to or tacit authorization of the offensive acts; (3) failed to take sufficient remedial action;
and; (4) that such failure proximately causes injury to [plaintiffs]. Parrish, 594 F.3d at
The uncontroverted facts show that Mesmer did not know of the issue regarding
Isgrig until April 2011. (Docs. 96-5 at 25–26; 96-8 at 22–23; 100-1 at 2–3.) Prison
officials only received two official complaints regarding Isgrig: L.B.’s complaint that
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initiated the investigation and M.B’s during the investigation. (Docs. 96-5 at 32, 49–50;
96-6 at 21–22; 96-8 at 102–21; 96-9 at 15–16.) After identifying Isgrig and confirming
the initial complaint Mesmer removed Isgrig from contact with female inmates. (Docs.
96-5 at 34–35; 96-6 at 34–35, 111–15.) At no time was Lombardi involved in the
training, supervision, or discipline of Isgrig or Mesmer. (Doc 96-7 ¶¶ 5–6).
In order for either Mesmer or Lombardi to have violated plaintiffs’ Eighth
Amendment constitutional rights by failing to train Isgrig, the lack of training must
amount to deliberate indifference. No evidence indicated that Mesmer was indifferent to
Isgrig’s training. He was trained during basic training, annual training, and had access to
the policies and procedures regarding pat down searches at all times during his
employment. (Docs. 96-6 at 10–11; 96-9 at 7, 9; 96-10 at 8–9; 100-1 at 8, 10.) At no
time was Lombardi involved in the training, supervision, or discipline of Isgrig or
Mesmer. (Doc 96-7 ¶¶ 5–6).
Therefore, even if summary judgment was not appropriate regarding the claims
against defendants Mesmer and Lombardi, both are entitled to qualified immunity.
Defendants have not challenged plaintiffs’ claims against Isrig for violations of the
Eighth Amendment by the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment.
V. CLAIMS REMAINING FOR LITIGATION
The claims of plaintiffs that remain for litigation are:
Plaintiff Victoria Whittington’s claims
Count 1 -- against defendant Isgrig for violation of the Eighth Amendment’s
prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment;
Count 2 -- against defendant Isgrig alleging the Missouri common law tort of
Plaintiff Maegen Bright’s claims
Count 8 -- against defendant Isgrig for violation of the Eighth Amendment’s
prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment;
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Count 9 -- against defendant Isgrig alleging the Missouri common law tort of
Plaintiff Sondra Loness’ claims
Count 16 -- against defendant Isgrig for violation of the Eighth Amendment’s
prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment;
Count 17 -- against defendant Isgrig alleging the Missouri common law tort of
For the reasons stated above,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the motion of defendant Mark Isgrig for
summary judgment against plaintiffs Victoria Whittington, Maegen Bright, and Sondra
Loness (Doc. 93) is sustained in part and denied in part.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion of defendants George Lombardi
and Angela Mesmer for summary judgment against plaintiffs Victoria Whittington,
Maegen Bright, and Sondra Loness (Doc 95) is sustained. Plaintiffs’ claims against
defendants Lombardi and Mesmer are dismissed with prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the final pretrial conference is set for
Tuesday, July 7, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. in St. Louis. Pretrial compliance documents are to be
filed on or before June 22, 2015.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is set for a jury trial in Hannibal,
Missouri, on Monday, July 13, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. Trial is expected to last 2-3 days.
/S/ David D. Noce
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Signed on May 20, 2015.
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