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McClanahan v. Young

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

February 5, 2016




Plaintiff Silver Nicolice McClanahan, an inmate at the South Dakota State Penitentiary (SDSP), is suing the Defendants, four staff SDSP staff members, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Doc. 1. McClanahan alleges that the Defendants violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments by forcing him to wear leg irons in a shower and recreation cage. Doc. 1. The Defendants moved for summary judgment, Doc. 33, which McClanahan opposed, Doc. 48. For the reasons explained below, this Court grants the Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. Facts

The Defendants complied with Local Rule 56.1(A) of the Civil Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota by filing a statement of material facts along with their motion for summary judgment. Doc. 42. Local Rule 56.1(B) requires the party opposing a motion for summary judgment, to "respond to each numbered paragraph in the moving party's statement of material facts with a separately numbered response and appropriate citations to the record." D.S.D. Civ. LR 56.1(B). All material facts that are not disputed by the nonmoving party are deemed admitted. D.S.D. Civ. LR 56.1(D). McClanahan filed a verified complaint, affidavits, and two notarized statements, but did not file a response under Local Rule 56.1(B). Mindful of McClanahan's pro se status and that "facts alleged in a verified complaint need not be repeated in a responsive affidavit in order to survive summary judgment, " Roberson v. Hayti Police Dep't, 241 F.3d 992, 994-995 (8th Cir. 2001), this Court has pieced together McClanahan's version of the facts from the verified complaint, the affidavits, and the notarized statements. Those portions of the Defendants' statement of material facts that do not conflict with McClanahan's filings are deemed admitted.

McClanahan is serving a life sentence at the SDSP for the 1994 killing of Ronald Brodersen. Doc. 42 at ¶¶1-3; Doc. 34-1; State v. Lemley, 552 N.W.2d 409, 411 (S.D. 1996). McClanahan, accompanied by his friend Harold Lemley, struck Brodersen with a hammer at least twelve times, after which Lemley tightened an electrical cord around Brodersen's neck. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 2-3; Lemley, 552 N.W.2d at 411. McClanahan and Lemley both pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter. Doc. 42 at ¶¶; Doc. 34-1; Lemley, 552 N.W.2d at 411.

All of the Defendants in this case work at the SDSP. Defendant Darin Young is the warden, Defendants Jennifer Wagner and Art Allcock are associate wardens, and Defendant Keith Ditmanson is the unit manager of the Special Housing Unit (SHU). Doc. 42 at ¶¶4-7.

In 1999, McClanahan was written up for attempted escape after he and two other inmates were discovered hiding in a blind spot in the prison's bakery. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 39-40. Although McClanahan told prison officials that he was "not necessarily hiding, " a disciplinary hearing officer found McClanahan guilty and sentenced him to ninety days in segregation. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 40-41.

In late June 2013, McClanahan was overheard telling another inmate that the "Number one rule of thumb is the only kind of Pig is a dead pig." Doc. 42 at ¶ 84. Around this same time, security staff at the SDSP became concerned that McClanahan was plotting to escape from prison. Doc. 42 at ¶ 16. Staff learned from listening to McClanahan's telephone calls that he had been transferring money to current and former SDSP inmates, including a recent parolee named Lloyd White Face. Doc. 42 at ¶ 16, 25-27. Staff also overheard telephone calls between McClanahan and his girlfriend, Jamie Klinghagen. Doc. 42 at ¶17. Klinghagen used to work at the SDSP, but was terminated when her relationship with McClanahan was discovered. Doc. 42 at ¶¶17. She remained in contact with McClanahan after her termination, speaking with him on the phone and sending him substantial amounts of money. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 21-22, 24-25.

On the morning of June 25, 2013, SDSP security staff learned some disturbing information while listening to prerecorded telephone calls between Klinghagen and McClanahan. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 28-29; Doc. 40 at ¶12; Doc. 34-4. Only a few days before, Klinghagen had told McClanahan that she was getting organized for a trip and that she had purchased several items for him, including button down shirts and "gum."[1] Doc. 42 at ¶¶28-29; Doc. 34-4.

As security staff was listening to these phone conversations, McClanahan reported to health services complaining of severe abdominal pain. Doc. 42 at ¶ 34; Doc. 34-4. He submitted a viscous, blood-like urine sample that the health services staff did not see him provide. Doc. 42 at ¶ 35, 43-44. Although McClanahan clutched his right side and complained of extreme pain while being examined, a health services staff member observed him standing upright and in no apparent distress after she returned from taking his blood to the lab. Doc. 42 at ¶¶51-52; Doc. 37 at ¶¶9-10. McClanahan also declined to provide a urine sample in front of a corrections officer as requested, opting instead to go to the bathroom and provide the sample on his own. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 47, 48. When McClanahan returned from the bathroom, his IV tube was backed up to the drip chamber with blood, which was consistent him having removed the tube. Doc. 42 at ¶¶48-49. The sample McClanahan submitted was of the same viscosity as the first sample. Doc. 42 at ¶ 48. McClanahan refused further treatment after he was asked to undergo additional urine testing. Doc. 42 at ¶50.

Later on the morning of June 25, 2013, security staff learned of McClanahan's trip to health services. Doc. 42 at ¶¶32-33; Doc. 40 at ¶¶15-17. A security staff supervisor ordered that McClanahan be located and secured immediately. Doc. 42 at 1f 53. That same day, staff issued a disciplinary report charging McClanahan with attempted escape and an administrative detention order placing him in the SHU pending an investigation. Doc. 42 at ¶54, 58; Docs. 34-2, 34-10. Before transporting McClanahan to the SHU, staff searched him and found a Visine bottle filled with a mixture of urine and blood. Doc. 42 at ¶55. Staff believed that McClanahan had attempted to use the contents of the Visine bottle as his urine sample. Doc. 42 at ¶¶56.

A later investigation revealed that McClanahan had enlisted Klinghagen and White Face to help him escape from prison. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 59-70. McClanahan's plan was to fake an illness on the morning of June 25, 2013, so that SDSP staff would transport him outside the penitentiary for medical treatment. Doc. 42 at ¶59; Doc. 39 at ¶5. White Face and another individual would then ambush the transport van, "take out" the correctional officers, and escape with McClanahan. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 60, 62, 69. Klinghagen admitted to the police that she had purchased several items that were to be used as part of the escape plan, including a U.S. Marshal badge, a bullet proof vest, hair dye, handcuffs, and numerous flashbangs. Doc. 42 at ¶63. Klinghagen further admitted that she had recently purchased a .223 caliber rifle, a .308 caliber rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun, two 9 mm pistols, and two .45 caliber pistols. Doc. 42 at ¶ 64-67. When questioned about this arsenal of weapons, White Face told law enforcement that he was to be armed with several guns when following the transport van. Doc. 42 at ¶68. Once the transport van had been taken out, White Face was to give McClanahan a .308 caliber AR-15 rifle. Doc. 42 at 69. For her role in the escape plan, Klinghagen was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault on law enforcement officers, aiding and abetting an attempted escape, and the commission of a felony with a firearm. Doc. 42 at ¶73. She ultimately pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge. Doc. 42 at 74. McClanahan, who was charged with attempted escape and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, pleaded guilty to attempted escape. Doc. 42 at ¶¶71-72.

The dispute in this case arises out of McClanahan's allegations that during June and July of 2013, he was forced to wear leg irons while in the SHU's shower and recreation cage, despite complaining of "open, bleeding wounds" to his ankles. McClanahan was transferred to the SHU on June 25, 2013, as a result of his escape attempt. Doc. 42 at ¶54. SDSP policy requires that inmates in the SHU wear handcuffs and leg irons when being transported on the unit, and be accompanied by at least one correctional officer. Doc. 42 at ¶¶76-77. SDSP policy allows the "Deputy Warden or his designee" to "authorize additional restraints on a case by case basis." Doc. 42 at ¶77. A security memo issued on June 28, 2013, provided in relevant part:

Effective immediately, with the pending case against inmate McClanahan, . . . there will [be] alterations to a few of our policies and procedures in the hill SHU. Prior to inmate McClanahan moving, either Major Van Vooren or AW Allcock must be contacted so they can approve the move. Inmate McClanahan will have an escort of no less than 2 officers along with 1 OIC whenever his cell door is opened. While on the unit McClanahan's restraints will consist of (1) pair of handcuffs with leash and (1) pair of leg irons with leash, both top locked. While being moved officers will maintain positive control of his restraints (hands on) at all times. While off the unit inmate McClanahan's restraint status may change however officers will still maintain positive control of him at all times.

Doc. 42 at ¶¶80-83; Doc. 34-17.[2]

According to Defendants' statement of material facts and accompanying affidavits, some SHU staff members mistakenly believed that the security memo required McClanahan to wear leg irons when he was inside the SHU's shower and recreation cage. Doc. 42 at ¶¶ 107-111. SHU staff member Brandon Knutson stated in an affidavit that he observed McClanahan wearing leg irons inside the shower and recreation cage on or about July 15, 2013. Doc. 42 at ¶107; Doc. 38 at ¶¶13-15.[3] Knutson questioned other SHU staff members and discovered that there was a "misunderstanding" concerning the security memo. Doc. 42 at ¶108; Doc. 38 at ¶ 14. According to Knutson and Ditmanson, Knutson discussed the matter with Ditmanson that same day after which the two immediately directed staff to stop making McClanahan wear leg irons inside the shower and recreation cage. Doc. 42 at ΒΆ109; Doc. 36 at ¶23; Doc. 38 at ¶15. An updated memo was issued on July 17, 2013, clarifying that SHU staff should remove McClanahan's leg irons when he was in the shower and recreation cage. Doc. 42 at ¶110-111; Doc. 36 at ¶23; Doc. 38 at ¶ 16; Doc. 34-18.[4]

McClanahan has alleged that he had "open, bleeding wounds" on his ankles and complained about these wounds, but Defendants dispute this. An SDSP staff member swore in an affidavit that McClanahan never sought medical attention for the "open, bleeding wounds to his ankles." Doc. 42 at ¶94, 103; Doc. 35 at ¶¶ 5, 9. Although McClanahan saw health services on September 25, 2013, the records from this appointment do not mention any wounds or scarring to his ankles. Doc. 42 at ¶ 102; Doc. 35 at ¶ 6. Knutson and Ditmanson state in their affidavits that McClanahan's alleged wounds were not visible to their naked eyes, and that McClanahan never complained to them about "open, bleeding wounds to his ankles." Doc. 42 at ¶ 99; Doc. 36 at ¶ 18; Doc. 38 at ¶ 18, 23. Knutson and Ditmanson further state that if they or any other SHU staff member had known of open, bleeding wounds to McClanahan's ankles, they would have secured medical attention for McClanahan and requested that the use of leg irons on McClanahan be modified. Doc. 42 at ¶ 98; Doc. 36 at ¶17; Doc. 38 at ¶ 22. According to Ditmanson, the only complaint he received from McClanahan "was limited to his having to wear the ankle restraints to begin with." Doc. 42 at ¶ 100; Doc. 36 at ¶ 19. The only "injury" Ditmanson observed was some minor redness to McClanahan's ankles, for which McClanahan was allowed to wear socks under his leg irons. Doc. 42 at ¶¶100-101; Doc. 36 at ¶ 19. Ditmanson in his affidavit did not state when McClanahan made his complaint, when Ditmanson observed the redness on McClanahan's ankles, and when McClanahan was allowed to wear socks.

McClanahan offers a different version of the facts. In Count I of his verified complaint, he alleges:

It is known fact that threats to safety are not tolerated I was left threatened by Mr. D Young, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Allclck [sic] and Mr. K Ditmanson because at no time were any of these individuals unaware of the threats and actions of my situation. During these moments and Days of torture and terror and wounds to my body I made numerous verbal and by showing my injuries my complaints to all of these staff. To no avail.

Doc. 1 at 4. In Count II, McClanahan alleges:

Mr. Young, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Allclck [sic] and Mr. Ditmanson were all aware of what their staff was physically doing. It was ordered and followed through the chain of comand [sic] begining [sic] with Mr. Young. I was forced to wear restraints inside a secure locked Rec/Shower Enclosure, forced to wear during Rec and Shower Causing open bleeding wounds obvious to the naked eyes due to having restraints on and placed before Recing/Showering [sic]. On numerous occasions I verbally complained to officers to no avail. There [sic] comments being it was not there [sic] call and ...

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