United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
OPINION AND ORDER
TIMTHYL L. BROOKS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is the Report and Recommendations
("R&R") (Doc. 44) filed in this case by the
Honorable James R. Marschewski, United States Magistrate
Judge for the Western District of Arkansas. The R&R advises
the Court to dismiss several of Plaintiff Scott Haid's
claims on summary judgment, and to allow three of his claims
to proceed. Defendants filed Objections to the R&R (Doc. 45)
on December 29, 2015, to which Haid responded on January 22,
2016 (Doc. 46). Haid did not file any objections to the R&R.
After reviewing the record de novo and considering
Defendants' objections, the Court ADOPTS IN PART AND
DECLINES TO ADOPT IN PART the Magistrate Judge's R&R.
facts of this case are ably set out in the R&R and require no
more than a brief recounting here. Haid's Complaint
alleges that he has a series of medical conditions including
diabetes, back pain, a hydrocele on his testicles, a history
of transient ischaemic attacks, and a history of blood clots
in his legs. According to Haid, Defendants violated his
constitutional rights when he was incarcerated at a Benton
County Department of Corrections ("BCDC") facility
awaiting trial on certain criminal charges. Specifically,
Haid contends that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment
right against cruel and unusual punishment by failing to
provide adequate medical care for his conditions, including
by failing to provide him with an adequate diabetic diet.
Haid also asserts violations of his Fourteenth Amendment
privacy rights stemming from a urologist's appointment,
and a nurse's conversation with a guard.
moved for summary judgment on all of Haid's claims on
October 2, 2015 (Doc. 38). The R&R suggests dismissing
Haid's individual capacity claims against Sheriff
Cradduck, right to privacy claim against Deputy Thompson, and
official capacity claims based on alleged inadequacies in
BCDC's intake procedures. It recommends keeping, however,
Haid's official capacity claim related to diabetic meals,
right to privacy claims against Nurse Watson and Deputy
Pitts, and denial of medical care claims against Nurse
Watson. For the reasons discussed below, the Court adopts the
R&R with respect to Haid's diabetic meals claim, declines
to adopt the R&R with respect to his right to privacy claims
against Nurse Watson and Deputy Pitts, adopts in part and
declines to adopt in part the R&R with respect to his denial
of medical care claims against Nurse Watson, and adopts the
remainder of the R&R.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT LEGAL STANDARD
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
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). The Court must view the facts in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party, and give the
non-moving party the benefit of any logical inferences that
can be drawn from the facts. Canada v. Union Elec.
Co., 135 F.3d 1211, 1212-13 (8th Cir. 1997). The moving
party bears the burden of proving the absence of any material
factual disputes. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87
(1986); Nat'l Bank of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark. v.
Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602 (8th Cir. 1999). If the
moving party meets this burden, then the non-moving party
must "come forward with 'specific facts showing that
there is a genuine issue for trial."'
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)). These facts must be "such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party."
Allison v. Flexway Trucking, Inc., 28 F.3d 64, 66
(8th Cir. 1994) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). "The nonmoving
party must do more than rely on allegations or denials in the
pleadings, and the court should grant summary judgment if any
essential element of the prima facie case is not supported by
specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for
trial." Register v. Honeywell Fed. Mfg. & Techs.,
LLC, 397 F.3d 1130, 1136 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing
Celotex Corp v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)).
Haid's Official Capacity Diabetic Meals Claim
Court agrees with the R&R's conclusion that genuine
issues of material fact exist as to whether BCDC provided
Haid with diabetic meals sufficient to maintain his health.
While the Magistrate Judge's reasoning on this matter is
sound, the Court writes on to explain its somewhat more
nuanced views of the legal standard and factual issues in
claim involves components of both an inadequate medical care
allegation, and an inadequate condition of confinement
allegation. That is, diabetes is a medical condition, one
aspect of the treatment for which involves a specialized
diet. And, the dietary options provided by a prison
constitute a condition of confinement. While these two
categories of allegations have been treated by courts as
formally distinct, the legal standard for proving a
constitutional violation for each revolves around the same
concept: deliberate indifference.
elaborate, "[deliberate indifference by prison personnel
to an inmate's serious medical needs violates the
inmate's eighth amendment right to be free from cruel and
unusual punishment." Smith v. Jenkins, 919 F.2d
90, 92 (8th Cir. 1990); see also Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 104-05 (1976). To establish deliberate
indifference, "an inmate must show (1) that he suffered
objectively serious medical needs and (2) that the prison
official actually knew of but deliberately disregarded those
needs." Plemmons v. Roberts, 439 F.3d 818, 823
(8th Cir. 2006) (quotations and alterations omitted). With
respect to the first prong, "[a]n objectively serious
medical need is one that either has been diagnosed by a
physician as requiring treatment, or is so obvious that even
a layperson would easily recognize the necessity for a
doctor's attention." Jones v. Minn. Dep't of
Corrs., 512 F.3d 478, 481 (8th Cir. 2008) (quotation
omitted). With respect to the second, deliberate disregard
"is equivalent to criminal-law recklessness, which is
more blameworthy than negligence, yet less blameworthy than
purposefully causing or knowingly bringing about a
substantial risk of serious harm to the inmate."
Schaub v. VonWald, 638 F.3d 905, 914-15 (8th Cir.
2011) (quotation omitted).
standard is effectively the same for conditions of
confinement. As the Supreme Court has explained, there is
"no significant distinction between claims alleging
inadequate medical care and those alleging inadequate
'conditions of confinement.'" Wilson v.
Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 303 (1991). Thus "[w]hether
one characterizes the treatment received by [a] prisoner as
inhumane conditions of confinement, failure to attend to his
medical needs, or a combination of both, " the
deliberate indifference standard applies. Id.
(quoting LaFaut v. Smith, 834 F.2d 389, 391-92 (4th
Cir. 1987) (J. Powell, retired, sitting by designation)). As
to the specific condition of confinement challenged by Haid,
there is no doubt that "prisoners have a
[constitutional] right to nutritionally adequate food."
Wishon v. Gammon, 978 F.2d 446, 449 (8th Cir. 1992).
To prevail on an inadequate diet claim, then, a prisoner must
"show that prison officials were deliberately
indifferent to his . . . dietary needs." Id.
Given that Haid's claim concerns the adequacy of his diet
in light of his diabetes, it survives if genuine issues of
material fact exist as to whether prison officials were
deliberately indifferent to his dietary needs as a diabetic.
the Court views this question as particularly close, it finds
that genuine issues of material fact do exist. The R&R
emphasizes Haid's weight loss and his allegation that his
diabetic meals were often no different, or immaterially
different, from the meals provided to non-diabetic prisoners.
See Doc. 44, pp. 7, 11. The Court agrees that these
two sets of facts are the most pertinent. Haid testified that
he lost more than 40 pounds over the course of a couple of
months, (Doc. 40-4, pp. 49-51), and information in the record
corroborates his weight loss. Defendants suggest that
Haid's weight loss is inapposite because eating foods
that one should not eat as a diabetic would cause weight
gain, not weight loss. See Doc. 45, pp. 1-2 (citing
to affidavit of Dr. Lafferty). However, this medical evidence
does not account for Haid's testimony that he sometimes
did not eat his entire meal because he knew that certain
foods were bad for his diabetes. For example, he refrained
from eating fruits in heavy syrup and some amount of bread
when he was served eight slices per day. (Doc. 40-4, p. 50).
Haid also complained of other symptoms possibly in
conjunction with his weight loss, such as kidney pain (Doc.
50-4, p. 52), weakness and muscle loss (Doc. 40-2, p. 145),
and lethargy (Doc. 40-2, p. 152). The Eighth Circuit has, on
at least one occasion, reversed a district court's grant
of summary judgment when a diabetic prisoner alleged that
improper treatment of his diabetes resulted in weight loss
along with other symptoms. Roberson v. Bradshaw, 198
F.3d 645, 647-48 (8th Cir. 1999).
Magistrate Judge was also correct in finding that the content
of the diabetic meals provided to Haid raises questions of
material fact. From November 27, 2013 through April 9, 2014,
Haid consistently lodged complaints about his diet through
the jail's Offender Communications Center. See
Doc. 40-2, pp. 120-152. While some of Haid's complaints
related to indigestion caused by certain foods served at the
jail, many of them concerned the health effects of the meals
offered to diabetics. Haid noted that several of his meals
did not materially differ from those served to non-diabetic
prisoners, and included foods that diabetics should generally
avoid. Coupled with Haid's weight loss during
this same time frame, the alleged similarities between
diabetic and regular meals create an issue of fact as to
whether the meals were adequate to serve Haid's medical
needs as a diabetic.
this issue a close call for the Court is BCDC's efforts
in monitoring Haid's blood sugar. Haid's blood-sugar
levels were monitored consistently throughout his stay in
jail, see Doc. 40-2, pp. 108-115, and the only
medical opinion in the record suggests that his blood sugars
were "very well controlled, " Doc. 40-6, p. 2. This
fact certainly supports Defendants' contention that the
diabetic meals were medically adequate, but given Haid's
aforementioned evidence, it does not make that contention an
undisputed fact. Cf. Ingrassia v. Schafer, __F.3d
__, 2016 WL 3228409 (8th Cir. June 13, 2016) (affirming
district court's denial of qualified immunity where
plaintiffs weight loss of 14 pounds in three months left him
within the normal BMI for his height).
Court believes the questions of fact identified above are
material in light of the deliberately indifferent legal
standard. There is no question that maintaining a proper
diabetic diet is an "objectively serious medical
need." Plemmons, 439 F.3d at 823. There is also
no question that prison officials actually knew that Haid was
diabetic, and knew the risks related to providing inadequate
nutrition to diabetics. E.g., Doc. 40-2, p. 5
(Benton County Jail Medical Questionnaire). Despite the
jail's monitoring of Haid's blood sugars, his
four-plus months of notifying the jail about his dietary
issues, along with his dramatic weight loss during the same
time, raise an issue of material fact as to whether the jail
was deliberately indifferent to his dietary needs as a
diabetic. Accordingly, the Court adopts the R&R's
findings as to Haid's official capacity diabetic diet
Haid's Right to Privacy Claims
alleges that Deputy Pitts violated his constitutional right
to privacy by refusing to leave the room with another inmate
during a doctor's appointment in which Haid was at times
nude from the waist down and openly discussed his medical
history. He also contends that Nurse Watson and Deputy
Thompson violated his constitutional right to privacy by
disclosing one of his medical conditions to another BCDC
employee. The R&R found that Haid's claim against Deputy
Thompson was too tenuous to proceed, and the Court
agrees. However, the R&R also found that
Haid's claims against Nurse Watson and Deputy Pitts could
proceed, as they were not entitled to qualified immunity on
the issue. On this finding, the Court
doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials
'from liability for civil damages insofar as their
conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have
known.'" Pearson v. Callahan,555 U.S. 223,
231 (2009) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S.
800, 818 (1982)). The test for whether an official is
entitled to qualified immunity includes two prongs. The first
is whether, taken in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, the facts show that the official's conduct
violated a constitutional right. See Washington v.
Normandy Fire Prot. Dist,272 F.3d 522, 526 (8th Cir.