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Maxfield v. Larson

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

March 6, 2019

VAUGHN GARY MAXFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
TONY LARSON, COURT SERVICE OFFICER, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; GARRETT ORTMEIER, DIRECTOR OF COURT SERVICES, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JAMIE HARE, JAIL COMMANDER, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JOSH BOLL, SHERIFF DEPUTY, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; JUSTIN YOUNGWIRTH, SHERIFF DEPUTY, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; KYLIE FRANKLIN, LIEUTENANT, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; PATTY DUNWOODY, SERGEANT, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; CINDY STRONGHEART, C/O, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; COUNTY OF WALWORTH, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; GLEN ULLIN, C/O, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; EDDIE RICE, C/O, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AARON VOGEL, SHERIFF DEPUTY, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; MOBRIDGE, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; AND SELBY, SD, INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITY; Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS, DENYING MOTIONS TO APPOINT COUNSEL, DENYING MOTIONS TO COMPEL DISCOVERY, AND DISMISSING SECOND AND THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINTS IN PART

          KAREN E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Vaughn Gary Maxfield, filed this pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Docket 1. The court previously granted Maxfield's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket 8) and granted Maxfield's motion to amend. Docket 14. On May 9, 2018, Maxfield filed a second amended complaint. Docket 17. On July 25, 2018, defendants Tony Larson and Garrett Ortmeier moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Docket 25. On October 4, 2018, defendants Jamie Hare, Josh Boll, Justin Youngwirth, Aaron Vogel, Kylie Franklin, Patty Dunwoody, Cindy Strongheart, Glen Ullin, Eddie Rice, and the County of Walworth (hereinafter the County Defendants) filed an answer to Maxfield's second amended complaint. Docket 42. In their answer, the County Defendants argue that Maxfield's complaint should be dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Id.; see also Docket 43. Maxfield opposes dismissal. Dockets 36, 46.

         On November 23, 2018, Maxfield filed a third amended complaint. Docket 60. Defendants move to strike the third amended complaint. Docket 64. Maxfield has also filed various miscellaneous motions. Dockets 27, 40, 57, 71, 74.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Maxfield alleges that on May 13, 2017, he was traveling to Sioux Falls for a scheduled reconstructive surgery on his hand when he was stopped on the interstate, arrested, and charged with ingestion. Docket 17 at 5.[1] The next day, he alleges that he informed Lieutenant Kylie Franklin of the Walworth County Jail that his left hand and arm were broken and he had a scheduled surgery. Id. at 6. He also claims that he told Franklin about his mental health history and what medications he needed to take. Id. He alleges that Franklin repeatedly ignored him, taunted him, and refused to give him pain medication or mental health medication. Id.

         Maxfield states that Eddie Rice placed him in the solitary housing unit (SHU) on May 26, 2017. Docket 60 at 6. He claims that he asked Rice for Ibuprofen and a wrap for his arm, but Rice refused, claiming that Maxfield had faked his injury. Id. He alleges that he was “blackboxed” during court hearings despite his broken hand and arm, while others were handcuffed, and Jamie Hare, the State's Attorney for Walworth County, knew about his injury. Docket 17 at 7.

         In June 2017, Aaron Vogel transported Maxfield to Mobridge Regional Hospital where he received an X-ray. Id. at 8; Docket 60 at 8. Maxfield notes that Vogel refused to remove Maxfield's handcuffs while a nurse examined his arm, but he did remove the handcuffs for Maxfield's X-ray. Docket 60 at 8-9. He alleges that he was given medical care too late because the nurse explained to him that his left arm healed on its own incorrectly and it could only be corrected if the bone were rebroken. Docket 17 at 8. And despite the nurse's note approving him for Ibuprofen, Maxfield claims that Franklin still refused to give him Ibuprofen when he returned to the jail. Id.

         Maxfield claims that after he pleaded guilty to the charged offense, he was placed on probation for two years. Id. He then met Tony Larson, the court service officer assigned to supervise him during probation, who informed Maxfield numerous times that Maxfield must serve his probation sentence in Mobridge rather than going to Sioux Falls. Id. at 8-11. But Larson refused to give Maxfield permission to reside at certain places. Id. He was arrested more than once while on probation in Mobridge and claims such arrests were directed by Larson. Id. at 9, 11.

         Maxfield was then arrested on July 15, 2017, and his BAC showed he was intoxicated. Id. at 11. He claims that Correctional Officer (CO) Eddie Rice placed him in general population despite his intoxication after informing Maxfield that he did not have time to place Maxfield in the drunk tank. Id. at 12. Maxfield then assaulted another inmate with a mop while intoxicated and claims it would not have happened if he were placed in the drunk tank instead. Id. He claims that he was then placed in segregation “indefinitely” at the direction of Franklin, where he was disciplined and denied his rights. Id.

         On July 19, 2017, Maxfield claims he suffered from extreme tooth pain. Id. And when he begged for a medical kite, he claims that Glen Ullin told him he could not write medical kites or see medical personnel while under disciplinary action. Id.; Docket 60 at 15. He also alleges that jail personnel refused his mental health medication requests. Docket 17 at 13. And he again alleges that Franklin refused him Ibuprofen. Docket 60 at 15. He claims that CO Cindy Strongheart warned him not to ask for his medication or he would be sent to Yankton, likely referring to the South Dakota Human Services Center. Docket 17 at 15. He also states that Franklin, Dunwoody, and Strongheart denied help to him to obtain his mental health medication. Docket 60 at 15.

         He alleges that in September 2017, his tooth pain increased significantly. Docket 17 at 15. Dunwoody and Ullin, according to Maxfield, denied him saltwater and Ibuprofen for several hours. Id. A few days later, he finally saw a dentist, who removed a tooth, gums, and bone from his jaw due to an abscess that had formed and spread to the nerves in his mouth. Id. at 16; Docket 60-1 at 3.

         In October 2017, Maxfield was transferred to the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Docket 17 at 16. He claims that the Walworth County officials did not submit his medication list or separation order regarding another inmate to the Department of Corrections (DOC), which resulted in an assault from that inmate once he arrived at the Penitentiary. Id. at 17.

         I. Defendants' Motion to Strike Third Amended Complaint

         Defendants move to strike Maxfield's third amended complaint (Docket 60) because it was filed outside the time allowed by Rule 15, without their consent, without leave of court, and after defendants had filed motions to dismiss Maxfield's second amended complaint. Docket 64.

         “A decision whether to allow a party to amend [his] complaint is left to the sound discretion of the district court . . . .” Popoalii v. Corr. Med. Servs., 512 F.3d 488, 497 (8th Cir. 2008) (citations omitted). “A party may amend its pleading once as a matter of course within . . . 21 days after serving it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Motions to amend should be freely given in order to promote justice but may be denied when such an amendment would be futile. Plymouth Cty. v. Merscorp, Inc., 774 F.3d 1155, 1160 (8th Cir. 2014).

         Here, Maxfield did not seek leave of court to file his third amended complaint. But because motions to amend should be freely given to promote justice, the court will consider the factual allegations in Maxfield's third amended complaint in conjunction with his second amended complaint to conduct a thorough screening analysis of all claims. Maxfield has provided more details in his third amended complaint that aid the court's analysis. Thus, defendants' motion to strike (Docket 60) is denied.

         II. Motions to Dismiss

         A. Standard of Review

         When considering a motion to dismiss, the court must accept the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Schriener v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 774 F.3d 442, 444 (8th Cir. 2014). Civil rights and pro se complaints must be liberally construed. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted); Bediako v. Stein Mart, Inc., 354 F.3d 835, 839 (8th Cir. 2004). Even with this construction, “a pro se complaint must contain specific facts supporting its conclusions.” Martin v. Sargent, 780 F.2d 1334, 1337 (8th Cir. 1985); Ellis v. City of Minneapolis, 518 Fed.Appx. 502, 504 (8th Cir. 2013). Civil rights complaints cannot be merely conclusory. Davis v. Hall, 992 F.2d 151, 152 (8th Cir. 1993); Parker v. Porter, 221 Fed.Appx. 481, 482 (8th Cir. 2007).

         A complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations . . . [but] requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “If a plaintiff cannot make the requisite showing, dismissal is appropriate.” Abdullah v. Minnesota, 261 Fed.Appx. 926, 927 (8th Cir. 2008); see also Beavers v. Lockhart, 755 F.2d 657, 663 (8th Cir. 1985).

         B. Overview

         Maxfield has brought a civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. “Section 1983 creates a species of tort liability for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution.” Manuel v. City of Joliet, 137 S.Ct. 911, 916 (2017) (internal citation omitted). “The essential elements of a constitutional claim under § 1983 are (1) that the defendant acted under the color of state law, and (2) that the alleged wrongful conduct deprived the plaintiff of a constitutionally protected federal right.” L.L. Nelson Enters., Inc. v. Cty. of St. Louis, 773 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir. 2012) (citing Schmidt v. City of Bella Villa, 557 F.3d 564, 571 (8th Cir. 2009)).

         C. Court Service Officers

         The court service officers, Tony Larson and Garrett Ortmeier, move to dismiss Maxfield's claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and to dismiss the official capacity claims under the Eleventh Amendment. Docket 25. Larson and Ortmeier argue that they are entitled to absolute judicial immunity, claiming that a probation officer overseeing compliance by a probationer is performing a judicial function. Docket 26 at 4-5. They also argue that Maxfield has failed to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Id. at 6.

         1. Garrett Ortmeier

         “ ‘Liability under section 1983 requires a causal link to, and direct responsibility for, the deprivation of rights. To establish personal liability of the supervisory defendants, [the plaintiff] must allege specific facts of personal involvement in, or direct responsibility for, a deprivation of his constitutional rights.' ” Clemmons v. Armontrout, 477 F.3d 962, 967 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Mayorga v. Missouri, 442 F.3d 1128, 1132 (8th Cir. 2006)). Maxfield includes Ortmeier in his caption but fails to allege facts concerning how Ortmeier played any role in the alleged deprivation of his rights. Thus, Ortmeier is dismissed as a defendant in his individual capacity.

         2. Tony Larson

         a. Absolute Immunity

          The court will next address if immunity shields Larson from liability. “ ‘[A]bsolute immunity defeats a suit at the outset, so long as the official's actions were within the scope of the immunity.' ” Sample v. City of Woodbury, 836 F.3d 913, 916 (8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Imbler v. Pachtman, 424 U.S. 409, 419 n.13 (1976)). “Where an official's challenged actions are protected by absolute immunity, dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is appropriate.” Id. (citing Patterson v. Von Riesen, 999 F.2d 1235, 1237 (8th Cir. 1993)). But as the Supreme Court has noted, the “presumption is that qualified rather than absolute immunity is sufficient to protect government officials in the exercise of their duties.” Burns v. Reed, 500 U.S. 478, 486-87 (1991). Thus, the official seeking the application of absolute immunity “bears the burden of showing that such immunity is justified for the function in question.” Id. at 486.

         Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, government officials are shielded from suits for money damages unless the plaintiff shows that the official's conduct “violate[d] clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982). The qualified immunity standard allows government officials to make “mistaken judgments” because it protects “all but the ...


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