United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
CANDY W. DALE, Magistrate Judge.
Currently pending before the Court is Defendants Simmons and Bozley's Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 22).
Plaintiff, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction ("IDOC"), is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge to enter final orders in this case. (Dkt. 17.) See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. Having fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record and that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Accordingly, the Court will decide this matter on the record without oral argument. D. Idaho L. R. 7.1.
Plaintiff alleges that, while he was detained at the Kootenai County Jail on August 22, 2010, Deputy Simmons and Nurse Bozley assaulted him and used excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. (Compl., p. 2 (Dkt. 3.)) Upon initial review, the Court found Plaintiff had stated a colorable claim and could proceed on his claims. (Dkt. 7.)
DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
1. Factual Background
This section includes facts that are undisputed and material to the resolution of the motion pending in this case. Where material facts are in dispute, the Court has included both versions of fact, insofar as that version is not contradicted by clear documentary evidence in the record. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007) ("When opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.")
On August 22, 2010, Plaintiff was an inmate at the Kootenai County Jail, housed in C-Pod. Plaintiff had previously been prescribed pain medication by the jail's health care provider, Dr. Kennedy, for back pain. This included two hydrocodone pills and one morphine pill, all prescribed to be taken twice daily. (Holecek Aff., ¶¶ 5-6 & Ex. A (Dkts. 22-3, -4.)) The dispensing of inmate medications during August of 2010 was done by the jail's medical staff via the medical cart. The medical staff would take the medical cart to each housing pod within the jail to dispense the prescribed medication. (Bozley Aff., ¶ 4 (Dkt. 22-5); Simmons Aff., ¶ 5 (Dkt. 22-6.)) The medical staff on duty would distribute the medication to the inmate with the assistance of a detention deputy who would provide security to the medical staff. (Bozley Aff., ¶¶ 5, 11; Simmons Aff., ¶ 6.)
On the morning of August 22, 2010, Nurse Wendy Bozley and Lt. Linda Simmons were in charge of dispensing medication to the inmates, including Plaintiff. There is only one inmate allowed at the medication cart at any one time for security purposes. The door to the C-Pod cell is opened and the medical cart is placed inside the doorway; the inmate stands inside the cell doors and the staff members stand outside the cell doors with the medical cart placed in between the inmate and the staff. (Bozley Aff., ¶ 7; Simmons Aff., ¶¶ 8-9.)
Jail policy is that inmates are required to swallow their medications at the time they are received from the staff member. This is done to prevent the hoarding of narcotics which some inmates do to sell their medication to other inmates. This poses a health, safety and security risk-the jail has a zero tolerance policy for those caught hoarding. To confirm that the medication has been swallowed, jail staff and medical staff examine the inmate's mouth to ensure the pill is swallowed and not "cheeked, " in an effort to hoard the medication. (Bozley Aff., ¶ 9; Simmons Aff., ¶ 10; Holecek Aff., ¶¶ 12-13 & Ex. C.)
On the morning of August 22, 2010, Plaintiff went to the designated location to receive his medication. He put the pills in his mouth and acted as though he swallowed the medication. Bozley ordered Plaintiff to open his mouth so she could verify that he swallowed his pills. (Bozley Aff. ¶¶ 8, 10; Simmons Aff., ¶ 12.) Plaintiff opened his mouth and pulled his right cheek out with his finger. Bozley asked Plaintiff to pull his cheek open on the upper left side. Bozley attests that she could see a white pill hidden in Plaintiff's upper left cheek area. (Bozley Aff., ¶ 10; Simmons Aff., ¶ 13.) Plaintiff attests that he swallowed the pills. (Pl.'s Aff., ¶ 3 (Dkt. 34-2.))
Bozley told Plaintiff to spit out the pill. Instead, Plaintiff backed away and turned as if to leave the medical cart. Bozley then reached across the medical cart with her right hand and grabbed hold of Plaintiff's shirt, hooking two fingers in the bottom of the v-neck collar to prevent him from going back into the pod. (Bozley Aff. ¶¶ 10, 11; Simmons Aff., ¶ 14.)
These facts are disputed by Plaintiff. He attests that Bozley "unexpectedly lunged" at him while he was showing her that he did not have medication in his mouth, scratched his neck with her fingers and pinned him against the medical cart and "sadistically" yelled at him: "give it to me; spit it out; don't fuck with me." (Pl.'s Aff., ¶¶ 7, 8, 11.)
As Bozley grabbed Plaintiff's shirt, Simmons also reached across the medical cart with her right hand and put a "place hold" or "choke hold" on Plaintiff's lower neck. According to Simmons, it was a "light" hold. Simmons claims she did this so that Plaintiff would not attack Bozley after Bozley grabbed Plaintiff's shirt. Once Simmons had a hold on Plaintiff, Bozley released her hold on the shirt. (Bozley Aff. ¶ 13; Simmons Aff., ¶ 16.)
Simmons and Bozley were standing across the medical cart from Plaintiff during the entire incident, which made Simmons' hold on Plaintiff loose and awkward. According to Defendants, Plaintiff did not pull away from Simmons or Bozley nor did he struggle against them. Further, they claim Plaintiff did not show signs of discomfort or complain about any pain. (Bozley Aff., ¶¶ 13, 16; Simmons Aff., ¶¶ 17, 18.)
Plaintiff states he tried to pull his head back and signal his need for oxygen. He claims he lost consciousness for an unknown amount of time because of the force both Simmons and Bozley were ...