United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCKET NO. 52)
Honorable Ronald E. Bush Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge.
pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment (Docket No. 52). Having carefully considered
the record, participated in oral argument, and otherwise
being fully advised, the Court enters the following
Memorandum Decision and Order:
case follows an August 15, 2013 stand-off between Jason Van
Orden and officers from the City of Pocatello Police
Department, followed by his arrest and transport to Portneuf
Medical Center before being booked in the Bannock County
Jail. Two weeks later, on August 29, 2013, deputies at the
Bannock County Jail found Mr. Van Orden dead in his cell - he
had apparently taken his own life by hanging himself with bed
linens. At the time of his death, Mr. Van Orden was not on
Amended Civil Rights Complaint raises claims against two
different sets of defendants, identified and grouped
according to their otherwise separate interaction with Mr.
Van Orden at two different points in time. The first group -
the City of Pocatello Defendants - was sued in relation to
Mr. Van Orden's August 15, 2013 arrest (Plaintiff's
Section 1983 excessive force claim). The second group - the
Bannock County Defendants - was sued in relation to Mr. Van
Orden's August 29, 2013 death in the Bannock County Jail
(Plaintiff's Section 1983 failure to protect
claim). This Court has already dismissed
Plaintiff's claims against the City of Pocatello
Defendants. See 3/27/16 MDO (Docket No. 67).
the remaining Bannock County Defendants, Plaintiff generally
Because Defendants knew or should have known that Plaintiff
was emotionally and mentally unstable and suicidal,
Defendants owed a duty to Plaintiff to provide appropriate
care to prevent Plaintiff from harming himself. Indeed,
Defendants claim they had taken precaution; however, despite
these claims, Plaintiff accomplished his suicide unchecked
and without detection by Defendants.
Because Defendants' actions at the time of the arrest and
incarceration or lack of action pursuant to the clear
warnings of Plaintiff's instability, Plaintiff was denied
his constitutional right to life without due process of law,
a protection afforded him by the Constitution of the United
Am. Compl., ¶¶ 13-14 (Docket No. 4).
Bannock County Defendants now move for summary judgment,
arguing (1) that Plaintiff (whether considered to be the
decedent or his parents) does not have standing to pursue any
claims against the Bannock County Defendants; (2) that there is
no genuine issue of material fact for trial on the failure to
protect claim against the Bannock County Defendants; and (3)
that the Bannock County Defendants are entitled to qualified
immunity. See generally Mem. in Supp. of MSJ (Docket
No. 52, Att. 1).
judgment is appropriate where a party can show that, as to
any claim or defense, “there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). One of the
principal purposes of summary judgment “is to isolate
and dispose of factually unsupported claims . . . .”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-34
(1986). It is “not a disfavored procedural shortcut,
” but is instead the “principal tool[ ] by which
factually insufficient claims or defenses [can] be isolated
and prevented from going to trial with the attendant
unwarranted consumption of public and private
resources.” Id. at 327. “[T]he mere
existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986). There must be a
genuine dispute as to any material fact - a fact
“that may affect the outcome of the case.”
Id. at 248.
evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party, and the Court must not make credibility
findings. Id. at 255. Direct testimony of the
non-movant must be believed, however implausible. Leslie
v. Grupo ICA, 198 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir.
1999). On the other hand, the Court is not required to adopt
unreasonable inferences from circumstantial evidence. See
McLaughlin v. Liu, 849 F.2d 1205, 1208 (9th
moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the
absence of a genuine dispute as to a material fact. See
Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th
Cir. 2001) (en banc). To carry this burden, the moving party
need not introduce any affirmative evidence (such as
affidavits or deposition excerpts) but may simply point out
the absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's
case. See Fairbank v. Wunderman Cato Johnson, 212
F.3d 528, 532 (9thCir. 2000).
shifts the burden to the non-moving party to produce evidence
sufficient to support a jury verdict in his favor. See
Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1076. The non-moving party must
go beyond the pleadings and show “by her [ ]
affidavits, or by the depositions, answers to
interrogatories, or admissions on file” that a genuine
dispute of material fact exists. Celotex, 477 U.S.
Section 1983, Failure to Protect, and Deliberate
1983 does not create any substantive rights, but is instead a
vehicle by which plaintiffs can bring federal constitutional
and statutory challenges to actions by state and local
officials.” Anderson v. Warner, 451 F.3d 1063,
1067 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Cholla Ready Mix,
Inc. v. Civish, 382 F.3d 969, 978 (9th Cir.
2004)). “The purpose of [Section] 1983 is to deter
state actors from using the badge of their authority to
deprive individuals of their federally guaranteed
rights.” Id. (citation omitted). To state a
valid claim under Section 1983, a plaintiff must allege a
violation of rights protected by the Constitution or created
by federal statute proximately caused by the conduct of a
person acting under color of state law. See Crumpton v.
Gates, 947 F.2d 1418, 1420 (9th Cir. 1991).
alleges an Eighth Amendment violation based on a failure to
prevent harm. “A prison official's deliberate
indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to an
inmate violates the Eighth Amendment.” Farmer v.
Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 828 (1970) (internal quotation
marks omitted). To prevail on such an Eighth Amendment claim,
the plaintiff must satisfy three requirements which include
both objective and subjective components. First, the
plaintiff must show that he is incarcerated under conditions
where the prison official could infer a substantial risk of
harm - this is the “objective” element of the
test. See id. at 834-37. Second, the plaintiff must
show that the prison official actually made that inference -
this is the “subjective” element of the test.
See id. at 837; see also Gibson v. County of
Washoe, Nev., 290 F.3d 1175, 1188 (9thCir.
2002) (“If a [prison official] should have been aware
of the risk, but was not, then the [prison official] has not
violated the Eighth Amendment, no matter how severe the
risk.”). Third, the plaintiff must show that the prison
official was ...