United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division
BRUCE R. BAKER, Plaintiff,
CHARLES PALMER, BRAD WITTROCK, and JAMES MORGAN, Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
LEONARD T. STRAND, CHIEF JUDGE
case is before me on defendants' motion (Doc. No. 30) for
summary judgment. Plaintiff has filed a resistance (Doc. No.
33) and defendants have filed a reply (Doc. No. 34). The
motion is fully submitted and ready for decision.
Bruce R. Baker filed a motion (Doc. No. 1) for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis and a proposed pro
se complaint (Doc. No. 1-1) on May 12, 2015. Baker
alleged a number of violations of his constitutional rights.
The Honorable Donald E. O'Brien, Senior United States
District Judge, conducted an initial review (Doc. No. 7) and
allowed Baker's pro se complaint (Doc. No. 8) to
proceed. The Honorable Mark W. Bennett, United States
District Judge, later appointed counsel for Baker and
directed appointed counsel to file an amended complaint. Doc.
No. 16. Baker, through counsel, filed his amended complaint
(Doc. No. 23) on December 3, 2015. The amended complaint
alleges two constitutional violations: (1) defendant Morgan
violated Baker's constitutional rights by failing to
protect him from a substantial risk of harm; and (2)
defendants Palmer and Wittrock violated Baker's
constitutional rights by failing to implement proper
procedures and training which could have prevented the harm.
On December 7, 2015, defendants filed an answer (Doc. No. 24)
denying Baker's claims.
Baker is a patient at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sex
Offenders (CCUSO). Charles Palmer is employed as the head of
the Department of Human Services for the State of Iowa - the
agency responsible for CCUSO. Doc. No. 23 at 2. Brad Wittrock
is employed as Acting Director of CCUSO. Id. at 2.
James Morgan is a staff member at CCUSO. Id. at 2.
undisputed that Baker was assaulted by another patient, Jeff
Goodwin, at the CCUSO facility on March 15, 2015. Prior to
March 10, 2015, Baker and Goodwin were roommates at CCUSO.
Despite some minor arguments between them, there were no
reports of any serious problems. See Doc. No. 30-1
March 10, 2015, Goodwin met with Treatment Program Supervisor
Steve McQueen and therapist Steve Tjaden. Doc. No. 30-3 at 1.
Goodwin informed them that he “felt unsafe” and
was going to assault Baker. Id. In response, McQueen
and Tjaden talked with Goodwin and determined that the
patients needed to be separated. Id. at 2.
CCUSO's “room assignment team” then moved
Baker to a room on another ward, and McQueen “alerted
all staff on March 10, 2015, of the reason for
Baker's move.” Id. (emphasis added). The
room assignment team believed that separating the two would
“reduce the bickering and arguments throughout the day,
and that would resolve the conflict.” Id.
March 10, 2015, Baker met with therapist Dr. Jane Daniel and
Psychiatric Security Specialist Greg Daubenberger to speak
about the situation with Goodwin. Id. at 4. When
Baker was informed that he would be moved to a room on
another ward, he expressed his opinion that being moved was
not fair since he did not do anything to warrant
Goodwin's reaction. See Id. Baker clarified that
Goodwin was “manufacturing reasons not to get along
with Pt. Baker in order to increase his chances to be moved
off the unit.” Id. Goodwin was eventually
moved from a two-man to a four-man room. Doc. No. 30-1 at 3.
Between March 10, 2015 and March 15, 2015, there were no
further indications of problems between Goodwin and Baker.
Doc. No. 30-1 at 3.
March 15, 2015, Goodwin assaulted Baker during recreational
(“rec”) time. Doc. No. 30-2 at 2. Rec time is
held in a separate ward that is opened at specified times and
includes a library, pool tables and other recreational items.
Id. Baker was assaulted from behind while he was
returning a movie that he had borrowed from the library.
Id. No staff were present in the library at that
time and it appeared that Goodwin had waited until staff were
preoccupied with other matters. Doc. No. 30-1 at 3. Baker had
no warning of the assault, as Goodwin did not say anything to
the assault, staff ran into the room to assist Baker.
Id. at 4. Four CCUSO staff members attended to
Baker. Id. Baker was taken by ambulance to the
Cherokee Regional Hospital, where he received an x-ray and
was released with a possible concussion. Id. He
suffered no broken bones or otherwise-serious injuries.
March 20, 2015, Baker was again taken to the hospital due to
complaints of a headache. He was diagnosed with a concussion
and left maxillary sinusitis. Doc. 30-3 at 53. In December
2015, Baker suffered a seizure that he attributes to the
assault. Doc. 30-1 at 4. He was taken to the hospital for
follow-up appointments related to the seizure on February 16,
2016. The actual cause of the seizure is unknown.
See Doc. No 30-3 at 39-48, 54-64.
2, 2015, Goodwin pleaded guilty to willful injury under Iowa
Code § 708.4 stemming from his attack on Baker on March