MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON THE PARTIES' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
BENNETT, District Judge.
TABLE OF CONTENTS I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND ........................................ 1343 II. THE MOTION FOR AN INJUNCTION ................................. 1346 A. Purpose Of And Standards For Preliminary Injunctions ...... 1346 B. Preliminary Injunctions In § 1983 Cases ................... 1347 C. Oldham's Application For Injunctive Relief ................ 1348 III. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ............................... 1348 IV. FINDINGS OF FACT ............................................. 1350 A. Undisputed Facts .......................................... 1350 B. Disputed Facts ............................................ 1351 V. LEGAL ANALYSIS ............................................... 1351 A. The Fourteenth Amendment Claim ............................ 1351 1. Property Interest ...................................... 1352 2. Liberty Interest ....................................... 1352 B. Eighth Amendment Claims ................................... 1353 1. Deliberate Indifference To A Serious Medical Need ...... 1354 2. Deliberate Indifference To A Risk Of Harm .............. 1355 C. Respondeat Superior Liability ............................. 1356 D. Failure To Designate An Expert ............................ 1357 VI. CONCLUSION ................................................... 1357
Plaintiff, a prisoner in the Iowa Department of Corrections system, has moved for partial summary judgment in his lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against prison officials. The claims encompassed in the prisoner's motion for partial summary judgment allege deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition and a substantial risk of harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment, asserting that defendants caused the prisoner to reinjure a previously broken wrist when they assigned him to an upper bunk despite a medical restriction on his activities. Defendants, various prison officials and corrections officers, have cross-moved for partial summary judgment on the ground that certain of the officials cannot be held liable on a claim based on respondeat superior, and on the ground that there was no deliberate indifference or cruel and unusual punishment involved in the circumstances alleged by the prisoner. The prisoner also seeks a restraining order and preliminary injunction protecting his legal materials during his transfers within the correctional system and preventing alleged interference with delivery of his legal mail to his attorney and the court in violation of the First Amendment.
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 5, 1993, plaintiff Ronald Roscoe Collier Oldham filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis. That application was granted on November 24, 1993, and Oldham's lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging various violations of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, was filed that day. Oldham filed an amended complaint on December 2, 1993. Defendants are Sally Chandler-Halford, the director of corrections for the state of Iowa, John Thalacker, the warden of the Iowa Mens Reformatory (IMR) at Anamosa, Iowa, lieutenants Terryl Richardson and Larry Farrington, and correctional officers "Copper," who was never identified or served, Gregory Jones, Sr., Keith Kirchner, and John Linvell, Jr., all at the IMR.
Neither the complaint nor either party's motion for summary judgment is a model of lucid pleading or argument. The amended complaint alleges five causes of action arising from two incidents during Oldham's incarceration at the IMR. Causes of action one, two, three, and five arise from Oldham's assignment on April 16, 1993, to a top bunk. According to the complaint, Oldham had previously fractured his left wrist, and consequently
Oldham's first claim, denominated "Malicious Indifference," alleges that IMR officers displayed deliberate indifference to Oldham's serious medical condition in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. This claim alleges that defendants violated Oldham's rights when they assigned him to the top bunk on April 16, 1993, despite the doctor's restrictions on his activities, thus causing the reinjury to Oldham's wrist. Oldham's second claim, "Failure to Fallow [sic] Doctors Orders," asserts that the decision of the IMR officers to assign him to an upper bunk despite his medical restriction also constituted another violation of Oldham's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. This claim alleges that Oldham had made the medical restriction known to the prison officials who made the bunk assignment by showing them a copy of the restriction. The third claim, "Clausing [sic] an Injury," asserts that the assignment to an upper bunk was the cause of Oldham's reinjury to his wrist, and yet another violation of Oldham's Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Oldham's fifth claim, and the last arising from his assignment to an upper bunk, asserts a "Fourteenth Amendment" claim of "Cruel and Unusell [sic] Punishment," in the form of placing a "person in danger where that person is likely to get hurt."
In light of Oldham's pro se status at the time this complaint was filed,
Oldham's pleadings admittedly offer little explanation of the basis for Fourteenth Amendment claims apart from stating that the claims in each of his causes of action one, two, three, and five are based on that amendment.
Oldham's fourth claim arises from a different incident or series of incidents in September of 1993 in which he was denied Tylenol prescribed by another doctor for preoperative pain preceding surgery on Oldham's face. Oldham alleges not only that he was denied the prescribed medication, but that the correctional officers he approached refused to allow him to discuss the problem with their superior officer, and that one officer taunted him to sue her for refusing to give him the medication. In this claim, Oldham asserts deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The court will construe this to be Count IV of Oldham's complaint.
Thus, as the court has construed the complaint, it involves four counts. Count I (formerly Oldham's causes of action one, two, and three) alleges violation of Oldham's Eighth Amendment rights in the deliberate indifference of defendants to Oldham's serious medical condition, causing reinjury to Oldham's wrist on May 23, 1994, by assigning Oldham a top bunk on April 16, 1993, despite a doctor's order for restrictions on Oldham's activities. Count II (formerly Oldham's fifth cause of action) alleges that in assigning Oldham a top bunk on April 16, 1993, defendants were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm to Oldham in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Count III (formerly Oldham's "Fourteenth Amendment" allegations in his causes of action one, two, three, and five) asserts violation of Oldham's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving him of his property or liberty interest in a lower bunk. Count IV (formerly Oldham's fourth cause of action) alleges deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition for refusal of defendants to provide Oldham with prescribed medication during September of 1993.
At some point, Oldham was transferred to the Iowa Department of Corrections facility at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. In the process, Oldham asserts that some of his legal materials, properly marked "legal material," were lost by IMR officials. Oldham also asserts that legal mail he placed in the out-going mail box was never received by the addressees, his attorney and the court, and that therefore IMR officials interfered with his out-going legal mail. Oldham filed a pro se motion for a restraining order or injunction on August 12, 1994, to prevent search and loss of his legal materials and interference with his outgoing legal mail. Defendants resisted the motion for a restraining order and injunction on August 23, 1994, asserting a failure of proof that any legal materials were lost or interfered with by IMR officials. The court will dispose of the motion for a restraining order and preliminary injunction first, then turn to disposition of the motions for summary judgment.
II. THE MOTION FOR AN INJUNCTION
A. Purpose Of And Standards For Preliminary Injunctions
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has recognized that the purpose of issuing a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit is to preserve the status quo and to prevent irreparable harm until the court has an opportunity to rule on the lawsuit's merits. Devose v. Harrington, 42 F.3d 470 (8th Cir.1994) (per curiam) (citing Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 113 & n. 5 (8th Cir.1981) (en banc)); Sanborn Mfg. v. Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Co., 997 F.2d 484, 490 (8th Cir.1993); Rathmann Group v. Tanenbaum, 889 F.2d 787, 789-90 (8th Cir. 1989); Ferry-Morse Seed Co. v. Food Corn, Inc., 729 F.2d 589, 593 (8th Cir.1984). The court therefore requires as a first step the establishment of a relationship between the injury claimed in the party's motion and the conduct asserted in the complaint. Devose, 42 F.3d at 471.
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has repeatedly cited the standards stated in Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C L Sys., Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 113 & n. 5 (8th Cir.1981) (en banc), as the basis on which courts in this circuit are to determine whether or not to issue a preliminary injunction. See, e.g., In re Y & A Group Sec. Litigation, 38 F.3d 380, 383 (8th Cir.1994); Baker Elec. Co-op., Inc. v.
Pottgen v. Missouri State High Sch. Activities Ass'n, 40 F.3d 926, 929 (8th Cir.1994); Timber Lake, 10 F.3d at 556 (review is for abuse of discretion or erroneous legal premise); Aswegan, 981 F.2d at 314 (abuse of discretion or erroneous legal premise review); Frank B. Hall, 974 F.2d at 1023 (same); Tullos, 915 F.2d at 1196. The burden of establishing the propriety of a preliminary injunction is on the movant, here Oldham. Baker Elec. Co-op., 28 F.3d at 1472; Modern Computer Sys., Inc. v. Modern Banking Sys., Inc., 871 F.2d 734, 737 (8th Cir.1989) (en banc). The movant's burden is particularly heavy in those cases where granting the preliminary injunction will give that party substantially the relief it would obtain after a full trial on the merits. Sanborn Mfg., 997 F.2d at 496 (citing Dakota Indus., Inc. v. Ever Best Ltd., 944 F.2d 438, 440 (8th Cir.1991) (hereinafter Ever Best)).
"No single [Dataphase] factor in itself is dispositive; in each case all of the factors must be considered to determine whether on balance they weigh towards granting the injunction." Baker Elec. Co-op., 28 F.3d at 1472 (quoting Calvin Klein Cosmetics Corp. v. Lenox Labs., Inc., 815 F.2d 500, 503 (8th Cir.1987) (hereinafter Lenox Labs.), and also citing Dataphase); Sanborn Mfg., 997 F.2d at 486 (citing Calvin Klein Cosmetics Corp. v. Parfums de Coeur, Ltd., 824 F.2d 665, 667 (8th Cir.1987) (hereinafter Parfums de Coeur)); Sanborn Mfg., 997 F.2d at 486 (quoting Dakota Indus., Inc. v. Dakota Sportswear, Inc., 988 F.2d 61, 64 (8th Cir.1993) (hereinafter Dakota Indus.)); Frank B. Hall, 974 F.2d at 1023; see also In re Y & L, 38 F.3d at 383 (focusing on appeal in that case on court's determination of likelihood of success on the merits); ILQ Inv., Inc. v. City of Rochester, 25 F.3d 1413, 1416 (8th Cir.) (focus on appeal also success on the merits), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 115 S.Ct. 578, 130 L.Ed.2d 493 (1994); S & M Constructors, Inc. v. Foley Co., 959 F.2d 97, 98 (8th Cir.) (district court applied only one of the Dataphase factors, likelihood of success on the merits, but the appellate court applied all of the Dataphase factors on appeal while noting that likelihood of success on the merits was the most significant under the circumstances), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 113 S.Ct. 184, 121 L.Ed.2d 129 (1992); James River Flood Control Ass'n v. Watt, 680 F.2d 543, 544-45 (8th Cir.1982) (per curiam) (court must apply all of Dataphase factors).
B. Preliminary Injunctions In § 1983 Cases
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated the standards for issuance of an injunction in a § 1983 action:
C. Oldham's Application For Injunctive Relief
Oldham has complained that an injunction is necessary to protect him from interference with his legal materials and access to his attorney and the courts. Plainly, such interference rises to the level of a constitutional violation. See, e.g., Bounds v. Smith, 430 U.S. 817, 824-25, 97 S.Ct. 1491, 1496-97, 52 L.Ed.2d 72 (1977) (only reasonable restrictions may be placed upon the right of access to the courts); Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396, 94 S.Ct. 1800, 40 L.Ed.2d 224 (1974) (right of access to the courts includes reasonable access to attorney); Jones v. James, 38 F.3d 943 (8th Cir. 1994) (right of access to the courts includes reasonable opportunity to seek and receive assistance of attorneys). Nor can the court consider Oldham's application for injunctive relief moot, because Oldham remains in the Iowa correctional system, and may be transferred at any time to another facility within that system.
However, application of the Dataphase factors to this case indicates that issuance of an injunction would be inappropriate. Oldham's complete lack of any proof of the loss of any legal material, apart from his bald assertion of such loss, does not bode well for his success on the merits. Furthermore, the fact that his attorney and the courts did not receive certain materials allegedly mailed to them does not establish either that such materials were actually mailed or that IMR officials interfered with that mailing. Although interference with legal materials and access to the court would assuredly show a threat of irreparable harm, Oldham has not shown, except by bald assertion, that he was subjected to such interference. The court finds that the balance of harms in this case weighs in favor of not issuing an injunction, largely because the IMR has in place proper policies for the protection of an inmate's legal mail and access to the courts, and this court has with some frequency reminded IMR officials of the importance of adherence to these policies. Although the public interest involved here is plainly enshrined in the constitutional right of access to the courts, the court does not believe that the public interest will be served by an injunction in the circumstances alleged here, because that interest is already addressed by prison system regulations.
Nothing in this conclusion should lead anyone in the Iowa Department of Corrections to believe that the court is willing to tolerate actions that depart from established policies for the protection of inmates' legal materials, legal mail, and access to the courts. With sufficient showing of likelihood of success on the merits, particularly where a inmate was able to show with credible evidence that legal materials were lost in a transfer, this court would not hesitate to entertain a claim of violation of constitutional rights brought pursuant to § 1983. Courts of this district and circuit have subjected IMR legal mail policies, policies concerning search of legal materials, and policies on access to the courts to careful scrutiny in the past and will likely do so again. The court concludes only that the allegations here are insufficiently supported to justify injunctive relief.
Finding that Oldham's motion for injunctive relief must be denied, the court turns to consideration of the parties' cross-motions for partial summary judgment.
III. STANDARDS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The Eighth Circuit recognizes "that summary judgment is a drastic remedy and must be exercised with extreme care to prevent taking genuine issues of fact away from juries."
The standard for granting summary judgment is well established. Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states in pertinent part:
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), (b), & (c) (emphasis added); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Munz v. Michael, 28 F.3d 795, 798 (8th Cir.1994); Roth v. U.S.S. Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., 25 F.3d 707, 708 (8th Cir.1994); Cole v. Bone, 993 F.2d 1328, 1331 (8th Cir.1993); Woodsmith Publishing Co. v. Meredith Corp., 904 F.2d 1244, 1247 (8th Cir.1990); Wabun-Inini, 900 F.2d at 1238 (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
Procedurally, the moving party bears "the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for [its] motion and identifying those portions of the record which show lack of a genuine issue." Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 395 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53); see also Reed v. Woodruff County, Ark., 7 F.3d 808, 810 (8th Cir.1993). The moving party is not required by Rule 56 to support its motion with affidavits or other similar materials negating the opponent's claim. Id.
"When a moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56(c), its opponent must do more than simply show there is
In Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11; Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24, 106 S.Ct. at 2552-53, and Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586-87, 106 S.Ct. at 1355-56, the Supreme Court established that a summary judgment motion should be interpreted by the trial court to accomplish its purpose of disposing of factually unsupported claims, and the trial judge's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Johnson v. Enron Corp., 906 F.2d 1234, 1237 (8th Cir.1990). The trial court, therefore, must "assess the adequacy of the nonmovants' response and whether that showing, on admissible evidence, would be sufficient to carry the burden of proof at trial." Hartnagel, 953 F.2d at 396 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. at 2552). If the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing of an essential element of a claim with respect to which it has the burden of proof, then the moving party is "entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S.Ct. at 2552; Woodsmith, 904 F.2d at 1247. However, if the court can conclude that a reasonable trier of fact could return a verdict for the nonmovant, then summary judgment should not be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. at 2510; Burk, 948 F.2d at 492; Woodsmith, 904 F.2d at 1247. With these standards in mind, the court turns to consideration of the parties' motions for summary judgment.
IV. FINDINGS OF FACT
A. Undisputed Facts
The parties concentrate their arguments in favor of their own motions for summary judgment and in opposition to their opponent's upon whether each is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, rather than upon factual disputes or the lack thereof. Both parties point to a rather limited body of facts as relevant to disposition of this matter.
On April 16, 1993, Oldham was first assigned to Living Unit B (LUB) at the IMR. At some time prior to that date, Oldham had suffered a serious fracture to his left wrist, and a Dr. Steyers had placed a medical restriction on Oldham's activities as a result of that injury. However, Oldham was assigned a top bunk in his cell in LUB on April 16, 1993. Oldham complained about this assignment, and, upon the request of the correctional officers present, provided them with a copy of the medical restriction.
On May 23, 1993, while attempting to climb into his upper level bunk, Oldham heard a "pop" in his left wrist, and suffered
B. Disputed Facts
The one factual dispute the parties argue is critical is whether or not the medical restriction on Oldham's activities stated or otherwise required that Oldham be assigned to a lower bunk. The court finds that it did not.
The "Limited Activity Notice" for Oldham, put in place March 11, 1993, by Health Services Staff of the Iowa Department of Corrections,
V. LEGAL ANALYSIS
The court will take up the parties' respective motions for summary judgment as to claims arising out of Oldham's assignment to a top bunk on April 16, 1993, and subsequent injury on May 23, 1993, first, i.e., Oldham's Counts I, II, and III, as construed by the court. Then the court will consider defendants' motion for summary judgment on the ground of an improper assertion of respondeat superior liability as to Oldham's claims arising from the events in September of 1993 (Count IV as construed by the court).
To establish a valid § 1983 claim of violation of federal constitutional rights, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under state law and "that the conduct deprived [the plaintiff] of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution." Carter v. City of Philadelphia, 989 F.2d 117, 119 (3d Cir.1993) (citing Parratt v. Taylor, 451 U.S. 527, 535, 101 S.Ct. 1908, 1912-13, 68 L.Ed.2d 420 (1981), overruled on other grounds, Daniels v. Williams, 474 U.S. 327, 330, 106 S.Ct. 662, 664, 88 L.Ed.2d 662 (1986)). Oldham has asserted that the conduct of defendants deprived him of his due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, and also his rights under the Eighth Amendment. The court turns to Oldham's Fourteenth Amendment due process claim first.
A. The Fourteenth Amendment Claim
Due process claims are generally subjected to a two-part analysis: (1) is the
1. Property Interest
Property interests protected by due process are "defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law." Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 92 S.Ct. 2701, 2709, 33 L.Ed.2d 548 (1972); Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 572-73, 95 S.Ct. 729, 735-36, 42 L.Ed.2d 725 (1975). See also Regents of the Univ. of Michigan v. Ewing, 474 U.S. 214, 222 n. 7, 106 S.Ct. 507, 511-12, 88 L.Ed.2d 523 (1985); Greeno v. Little Blue Valley Sewer Dist., 995 F.2d 861, 864 (8th Cir.1993) ("The existence of a property interest must be determined with reference to state law."); Packett v. Stenberg, 969 F.2d 721, 725 (8th Cir.1992) (same); Lohorn v. Michal, 913 F.2d 327, 335 (7th Cir.1990); Skeets v. Johnson, 805 F.2d 767, 777 (8th Cir.1986) (property interests are defined by independent sources such as state law). Oldham appears to assert that the medical restrictions placed on his activity established his property interest in assignment to a lower bunk.
Even assuming a medical restriction on an inmate's activity could establish a property interest, the court finds that the medical restrictions in this case do not establish the asserted property interest. Specifically, no medical restriction in the summary judgment record even addresses Oldham's assignment to a particular level bunk. Although most of the medical restrictions include a line where a specific bunk assignment could have been required for medical reasons, the "lower bunk only" assignment was never marked on these medical restrictions. Therefore, Oldham has failed to establish a property interest in his assignment to a lower bunk, and the court need not reach the issue of what process might have been due as the result of deprivation of such an interest.
2. Liberty Interest
The United States Supreme Court has "repeatedly said both that prison officials have broad administrative and discretionary authority over the institutions they manage and that lawfully incarcerated persons retain only a narrow range of protected liberty interests." Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 467, 103 S.Ct. 864, 869, 74 L.Ed.2d 675 (1982). A state creates a protected liberty interest by placing substantive limitations on official discretion. Kentucky Dept. of Corrections v. Thompson, 490 U.S. 454, 462, 109 S.Ct. 1904, 1909-10, 104 L.Ed.2d 506 (1989); Olim v. Wakinekona, 461 U.S. 238, 249, 103 S.Ct. 1741, 1747-48, 75 L.Ed.2d 813 (1983). The most common manner in which a State creates a liberty interest is by establishing "substantive predicates" to govern official decision-making, Hewitt, 459 U.S. at 472, 103 S.Ct. at 871, and, further, by mandating the outcome to be reached upon a finding that the relevant criteria have been met. Thompson, 490 U.S. at 462, 109 S.Ct. at 1909-10. A state statute or regulation creates a liberty interest if it uses mandatory language in connection with particularized substantive standards or criteria that significantly guide administrative decisions. Clark v. Groose, 36 F.3d 770, 772 (8th Cir.1994) (en banc); Carney v. Houston, 33 F.3d 893, 894 (8th Cir. 1994); Knight v. Armontrout, 878 F.2d 1093, 1095 (8th Cir.1989) (where regulations contain "particularized substantive standards or criteria to guide the exercise of discretion by [jail] officials," and contain language of a mandatory nature, e.g., shall, will, must, a liberty interest is created which cannot be taken away without due process, citing Hewitt v. Helms, 459 U.S. 460, 471-72, 103 S.Ct. 864,
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has formulated the Thompson test as follows:
Williams v. Nix, 1 F.3d 712, 717 (8th Cir. 1993) (citing Patchette v. Nix, 952 F.2d 158, 160 (8th Cir.1991), and Thompson, 490 U.S. at 46), 109 S.Ct. at 1909-10; see also Bagley v. Rogerson, 5 F.3d 325, 327 (8th Cir.1993) ("It is commonly said that no liberty interest of this kind is created unless the state statute or regulation involved uses mandatory language and imposes substantive limits on the discretion of state officials."); Dace v. Mickelson, 816 F.2d 1277 (8th Cir. 1987) (en banc; applying same test). Even if a state regulation raises a protected liberty interest, the court's inquiry is not whether the regulation and therefore the Constitution is violated, but whether the process afforded the inmate satisfied the minimum requirements of the Due Process clause. Griffin-El v. Delo, 34 F.3d 602, 604 (8th Cir.1994).
Again, even assuming that the medical restrictions could establish a liberty interest, the court must conclude that Oldham has failed to establish a liberty interest in his assignment to a lower bunk, because nowhere in the medical restrictions can the court find any mandatory, or any language at all, regarding Oldham's assignment to a particular level bunk. Thus, the medical restrictions do not place any limitations on the discretion of prison officials in assigning Oldham to a particular level bunk.
The court concludes that Oldham's Fourteenth Amendment claims fail ab initio because Oldham cannot establish any liberty or property interests in his assignment to a particular level bunk upon which to mount such a claim. The court notes further that Oldham has not pleaded that he was a pre-trial detainee, which would provide a ground for bringing his "cruel and unusual punishment" claims pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment rather than pursuant to the Eighth Amendment. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 535 & n. 16, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 1871-72 & n. 16, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979) (pre-trial detainee's claims of cruel and unusual punishment must be brought pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, not the Eighth Amendment); Hall v. Dalton, 34 F.3d 648, 650 (8th Cir.1994) (pre-trial detainee's conditions of confinement claim is brought pursuant to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, citing Bell): Whitnack v. Douglas County, Nebraska, 16 F.3d 954, 957 (8th Cir.1994) (a pre-trial detainee's cruel and unusual punishment claim is brought pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment); Ervin v. Busby, 992 F.2d 147, 150 (8th Cir.1993) (same); Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir.1993) (same); Campbell v. Cauthron, 623 F.2d 503, 505 (8th Cir.1980) (same). However, in this circuit, the standards applied to Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment claims of cruel and unusual punishment have been the same, both requiring "deliberate indifference" on the part of defendants. Hall, 34 F.3d at 650; Whitnack, 16 F.3d at 957. Thus, even if Oldham could bring his cruel and unusual punishment claims pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, the court's analysis of those claims would be the same as follows under the Eighth Amendment.
B. Eighth Amendment Claims
The Eighth Amendment places a duty on prison officials to provide humane conditions of confinement. Weaver v. Clarke, 45 F.3d 1253 (8th Cir.1995) (citing Farmer v. Brennan, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1976, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994)). Adequate medical attention is one of the conditions of confinement to which a prisoner is subjected, id. (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 303, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 2326-27, 115 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991)), and in this context, "a prison official violates the Eighth Amendment by being deliberately indifferent either to a prisoner's existing serious medical needs or to conditions posing a substantial risk of
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated the standards for an Eighth Amendment violation as follows:
Brown v. Nix, 33 F.3d 951, 954 (8th Cir. 1994). With these standards in mind, the court turns to analysis of Oldham's Eighth Amendment claims.
1. Deliberate Indifference To A Serious Medical Need
The United States Supreme Court has said that "[s]ince ... only the `unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' implicates the Eighth Amendment, a prisoner advancing such a claim must, at a minimum, allege `deliberate indifference' to his `serious' medical needs." Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 111 S.Ct. 2321, 115 L.Ed.2d 271 (1991) (Emphasis in the original; citations omitted); Estelle, 429 U.S. at 106, 97 S.Ct. at 292 ("In order to state a cognizable claim, a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs."). A medical condition does not need to be an emergency in order to be considered serious under Estelle. Ellis v. Butler, 890 F.2d 1001, 1003 n. 1 (8th Cir.1989). The Eighth Circuit approved definition of a "serious medical need" as "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." Johnson v. Busby, 953 F.2d 349, 351 (8th Cir.1992).
"Deliberate indifference" is the standard for the requisite state of mind of the defendant for claims of denial of medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Helling v. McKinney, ___ U.S. ___, 113 S.Ct. 2475, 125 L.Ed.2d 22 (1993). Indifference is apathy or unconcern. Rellergert v. Cape Girardeau County, 924 F.2d 794, 797 (8th Cir.1991). "Deliberate indifference" to a prisoner's serious illness or injury can typically be established or disproved without the necessity of balancing competing institutional concerns for the safety of prison staff or other inmates. Whitley v. Albers, 475 U.S. 312, 320, 106 S.Ct. 1078, 1084, 89 L.Ed.2d 251 (1985). Medical treatment that displays "deliberate indifference" violates the Eighth Amendment "whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's needs or by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed." Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-105, 97 S.Ct. at 291; Foulks v. Cole County, Mo., 991 F.2d 454, 456-57 (8th Cir.1993). In the present case, the defendants were IMR correctional officers and corrections department officials, not doctors, but Oldham alleges that they interfered with his medical treatment by failing to follow a doctor's orders. Thus, his claim is cognizable as an alleged violation of the Eighth Amendment under Estelle.
The courts have not delineated specific criteria for what constitutes "deliberate indifference," but have instead examined the specific circumstances involved. See, e.g., Foulks v. Cole County, Mo., 991 F.2d 454, 456-57 (8th Cir.1993) (delay of several days in treatment of bleeding and bruised prisoner raised a fact issue as to whether defendants had acted with deliberate indifference); Johnson v. Lockhart, 941 F.2d 705, 706-07 (8th Cir.1991) (persistent delay in priority surgery was "deliberate indifference"); Bailey v. Gardebring, 940 F.2d 1150, 1155 (8th Cir.1991) (no treatment available for sexual psychopath so no "deliberate indifference" to condition); DeGidio v. Pung, 920 F.2d 525, 532-33 (8th Cir.1990) (systematic failure to respond to tuberculosis outbreak was deliberate indifference); Toombs v. Bell, 798 F.2d 297,
The court has no difficulty concluding that a recently fractured wrist still in a brace or bandage and still requiring some restrictions on activities is a serious medical need apparent even to a layperson. However, the most serious impediment to Oldham's Eighth Amendment claim is much the same as the impediment to his Fourteenth Amendment claims: the medical restriction upon which he bases his claim simply does not state that Oldham should be assigned a lower bunk. Although common sense might have suggested that a person with an arm in a brace or bandage might have difficulty climbing into a top bunk, common sense, perhaps unfortunately, is not the legal standard for an Eighth Amendment violation. The defendants in this case were not apathetic and unconcerned in their response to Oldham's requests for a lower bunk. Instead, they asked for evidence of some authorization that a lower bunk was required for treatment of his medical condition. They examined the copy of the medical restriction provided to them by Oldham, and, because that restriction does not prescribe a lower bunk as part of Oldham's treatment, found nothing that required them to assign Oldham to a lower bunk. The court may fault defendants' judgment in assigning Oldham to a top bunk despite the medical restriction, but it cannot find that defendants' conduct constituted deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment in light of the applicable standards.
2. Deliberate Indifference To A Risk Of Harm
The Supreme Court recently noted that it was no novel proposition that the Eighth Amendment protects prison inmates against future harm:
Helling, ___ U.S. at ___, 113 S.Ct. at 2480-81. Thus, for a claim based on a failure to prevent harm, "the inmate must show that ... [the] condition pos[ed] a substantial risk of serious harm." Farmer, ___ U.S. at ___, 114 S.Ct. at 1977; Baker v. Delo, 38 F.3d 1024, 1027 (8th Cir.1994) (quoting Farmer). The prisoner must also prove that the prison official whose conduct is alleged to have violated the Eighth Amendment had "a `sufficiently culpable state of mind,'" id.; Wilson, 501 U.S. at 297, 111 S.Ct. at 2323, that is, "that the prison official `acted or failed to act despite his [actual] knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm.'" Baker, 38 F.3d at 1027 (quoting Farmer, ___ U.S. at ___, ___, 114 S.Ct. at 1981, 1984).
The court concludes that whether prison officials were deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of serious harm, although perhaps a closer question than whether they were deliberately indifferent to Oldham's serious medical need, must still be answered in the negative. The difference between the claims, it appears to the court, is whether, in a risk of harm claim, defendants looking ahead have actual knowledge of a substantial risk of harm, requiring them to forestall the risk of harm by some action, as opposed to looking only at the present circumstances to decide if some action is required on their part. In the present case, although common sense again might suggest that an inmate with an injured arm could eventually reinjure that arm while attempting to climb into a top bunk, the court cannot conclude on the record before it that there is even a genuine issue of material fact that prison officials had actual knowledge of such a risk of harm. Nothing in the medical restriction put them on notice that a lower bunk was required to prevent future injury, and the fact that Oldham did eventually reinjure
Thus, the court concludes that defendants are entitled to summary judgment on all of the claims arising from Oldham's assignment to a top bunk on April 16, 1993.
C. Respondeat Superior Liability
Defendants have moved for summary judgment in favor of defendants Thalacker, Chandler-Halford, and Farrington, on the ground that the complaint fails to allege action or inaction by them personally that caused a violation of Oldham's rights, and that respondeat superior liability will not lie against supervisors in a § 1983 action. Although asserting that these defendants were "deliberately indifferent" to his rights, Oldham does not, in either his resistance to defendants' motion for summary judgment or in his amended complaint, specify any actions of these defendants on which to base liability.
Respondeat superior liability will not lie against supervisors under § 1983. Choate v. Lockhart, 7 F.3d 1370, 1376 (8th Cir.1993); Howard v. Adkison, 887 F.2d 134, 137 (8th Cir.1989). The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that supervisors can incur liability under § 1983 in only two ways. Choate, 7 F.3d at 1376. First, they can incur liability "for their personal involvement in a constitutional violation." Id. (quoting Fruit v. Norris, 905 F.2d 1147, 1151 (8th Cir.1990)). Second, supervisors can incur liability "when their corrective inaction amounts to `deliberate indifference' to or `tacit authorization' of the violative practices." Id. (quoting Howard, 887 F.2d at 137, in turn quoting Williams v. Willits, 853 F.2d 586, 588 (8th Cir.1988)).
Because the court has concluded that all claims based on Oldham's assignment to a top bunk on April 16, 1993, must be dismissed, the court need only look at what, if any, allegations Oldham has made concerning the September 1993 incidents that demonstrate either the personal involvement of these specific defendants or their corrective inaction. In Count IV,
Amended Complaint, p. 10-11. Thus, the complaint explicitly asserts only respondeat superior liability against Lt. Farrington. Furthermore, the allegations of the complaint suggest that far from "corrective inaction," Lt. Farrington responded to Oldham's complaints about his ability to get his medication. The court concludes that the allegations of Count IV against defendants Thalacker,
D. Failure To Designate An Expert
Defendants assert as a final ground for summary judgment Oldham's failure to designate an expert witness. Defendants argue that Oldham cannot pursue a claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical condition without expert testimony, citing Crooks v. Nix, 872 F.2d 800 (8th Cir.1989). Oldham responds that his treating physician, Dr. Steyers, is an expert, but Oldham has not specifically designated him as an expert witness.
The court notes first that Crooks does not stand for the broad proposition for which defendants have offered it. Rather than concluding that an inmate "must provide an expert to support his allegations that he had a serious medical need or that Defendant was deliberately indifferent to that serious medical need," as defendants have argued, Defendants' Memorandum, p. 4, Crooks actually holds as follows:
Id. at 804. Thus, Crooks says nothing about the necessity of expert medical testimony to establish a serious medical need or deliberate indifference; rather, it says that an unsupported allegation of a need for a specific treatment is insufficient to support a claim for such treatment. In this case, Oldham's assertion of a serious medical need is supported by the record, and is not based merely on his bald assertions. The record shows that Oldham had been prescribed the medication of which he was allegedly deprived in September of 1993.
Contrary to defendants' assertion, no expert testimony is necessary to establish a serious medical need. Rather, a medical need is "serious" if it 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." Johnson v. Busby, 953 F.2d 349, 351 (8th Cir.1992). The fact that one of the standards for "serious medical need" is what a layperson should recognize plainly obviates the need for expert testimony on the question. In this case, it appears further from the record that Oldham's medical condition had led a physician to prescribe medication for pain.
Neither does a determination of "deliberate indifference" require expert testimony. "Deliberate indifference" has nothing to do with an expert's evaluation; rather, "deliberate indifference" is a determination by the factfinder of the state of mind of the defendant based on the evidence, and looks to apathy or disregard on the part of the defendants based on their actual knowledge of a risk of harm or a serious medical need. See, e.g., Brown, 33 F.3d at 954; Rellergert, 924 F.2d at 797. Because no medical expert was required to support Oldham's Eighth Amendment claims, Oldham's failure to designate a medical expert is not fatal to his remaining claim. Defendants' motion for summary judgment on this ground must be denied.
Oldham's request for a restraining order and preliminary injunction must be denied on the basis of application of the Dataphase factors to the circumstances of this case. Although some of these factors weigh in Oldham's favor, the critical factor in this case, success on the merits, weighs against granting the injunction. Oldham has failed to present any evidence beyond his bald assertions that any of his legal materials were lost in the course of his transfers within the corrections system, or that IMR officials interfered with his legal mail. Furthermore, the public interest will not be served by issuing an injunction in this case, because adequate IMR policies already govern treatment
Turning to the motions for summary judgment, the court concludes that, assuming that a medical restriction could create either a property or liberty interest, the medical restriction involved here did not create such an interest in Oldham's assignment to a lower bunk. The medical restriction was silent on the proper bunk assignment. Therefore it did not require a specific bunk assignment. Thus, Oldham cannot establish a Fourteenth Amendment violation as the result of his assignment to a top bunk on April 16, 1993. Defendants are therefore entitled to summary judgment on Oldham's Fourteenth Amendment claims arising from his bunk assignment.
Defendants are also entitled to summary judgment on Oldham's Eighth Amendment claims arising from his bunk assignment in April of 1993. Defendants did not show deliberate indifference either to Oldham's serious medical condition or to a substantial risk of harm as the result of the bunk assignment. Rather, defendants examined the medical restriction, but, because the medical restriction did not include a restriction to a lower bunk, it did not require a specific bunk assignment and did not provide any notice that assignment to a top bunk would present Oldham with a substantial risk of harm. Thus, defendants are entitled to summary judgment on, and Oldham's motion for summary judgment must be denied as to, his claims arising from his bunk assignment on April 16, 1993.
Defendants Thalacker, Chandler-Halford, and Farrington are further entitled to summary judgment on Oldham's claim arising from his inability to obtain pain medication during September of 1993. The complaint asserts only respondeat superior liability against these defendants, because it fails to allege any personal involvement of these defendants in the alleged violation of Oldham's rights or any corrective inaction in response to the alleged violation of his rights. However, defendants are not entitled to summary judgment on this claim on the ground that Oldham has failed to designate an expert witness on the issues of serious medical need or deliberate indifference. No such expert testimony is required for determination of these issues.
Thus, Oldham's motion for partial summary judgment must be denied in its entirety, and defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted to the extent described above. This matter will therefore proceed to trial against the remaining defendants on Oldham's claims arising from his inability to obtain pain medication during September of 1993 and the additional claims now consolidated with the present action stated in case No. C94-0158.
However, the liberal construction afforded pro se pleadings is limited by reasonableness: defendants must be given fair notice of the claims so that they may make a meaningful response to the pleadings. Miles v. Ertl Co., 722 F.2d 434, 434-35 (8th Cir.1983) (per curiam).