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Parrish v. Dingman

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

November 17, 2017

JASON DINGMAN, Individually and in his Official Capacity as Hamilton County Jailer, et al., Defendants.


          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.


         This case is before me on defendant's motion (Doc. No. 21) for summary judgment. Plaintiff Matthew Parrish has filed a resistance (Doc. No. 37) and the defendants have filed a reply (Doc. No. 44). I find that oral argument is not necessary. See N.D. Ia. L.R. 7(c).


         Parrish filed this action in the Iowa District Court for Hamilton County on August 19, 2016. His state court petition (Doc. No. 3) includes claims against Hamilton County, Iowa (the County), Jason Dingman, a jailer at the Hamilton County Jail, and Dennis Hagenson, the Hamilton County Sheriff. Counts I, II and III are brought against Dingman pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and assert violations of Parrish's rights under the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Counts IV and V, also brought pursuant to § 1983, assert that Hagenson and the County are liable for Dingman's alleged conduct. Counts VI and VII assert state law tort claims against Dingman. Count VIII asserts a state law negligence claim against Hagenson and the County and Count IX asserts a respondeat superior claim against the County.

         Defendants filed a notice (Doc. No. 2) of removal to this court on September 7, 2016, and filed an answer (Doc. No. 5) on September 14, 2016. Defendants generally deny Parrish's allegations and assert various defenses. Defendants filed their motion for summary judgment on July 21, 2017.


         Unless otherwise noted, the parties do not dispute the following facts:

         At the time of the events at issue, Parrish was 46 years old and on Social Security disability because of injuries sustained in a 2010 motorcycle accident. Doc. No. 24 at 5-6, 10. He was 5 feet, 8 inches in height, and weighed 170 pounds. Doc. No. 37-4 at 6. Despite being on disability, Parrish was able to maintain a part-time job at an automobile dealership. Doc. No. 24 at 6, 20-21.

         The injuries Parrish suffered as a result of the motorcycle acceding included a broken right femur and right arm. Doc. No. 24 at 10. Because of these injuries, Parrish walks with a limp. Id. Parrish also has physical limitations in his wrist and double vision as a result of the accident. Id. Although Parrish used a walker or a cane immediately after the motorcycle accident, he was no longer using either on August 7, 2015. Id. at 10. However, he still wears orthopedic shoes and special glasses. Id.

         Dingman was hired as a jailer at the Hamilton County Jail in 2006. Doc. No. 24 at 24. When he was hired, Dingman received training in the use of pepper spray and tasers. Id. In 2007, Dingman completed the basic 40-hour jail training at the State of Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Id. at 25. Dingman takes a 20-hour re-certification course through the Law Enforcement Academy each year. Id. Dingman completed training in defensive tactics in 2008 and repeated the course in 2011 and 2015. Id.

         The Hamilton County Jail maintains a policy regarding the use of force against inmates. Doc. No. 24 at 67-68. The policy states that “Jail Officers are so authorized and should use appropriate force when an escape is in progress, and it is evident that escape may ensue, or that danger to persons, or damage to property may ensue.” Id. at 67. “Empty Handed Tactics” such as the use of hands, compliance holds or decentralizing are specifically authorized where the inmate shows passive or defensive physical resistance. Id. at 68. Intermediate weapons (such as pepper spray or a taser) are further authorized where an inmate demonstrates active physical resistance. Id.

         On August 7, 2015, Parrish was arrested by Officer J. Johnson of the Iowa State Patrol after being stopped at an OWI checkpoint on Highway 17 near Stanhope, Iowa. Doc. No. 24 at 8. Parrish denies that he was under the influence of marijuana or alcohol at the time he was arrested, but admits that he was taking prescription narcotics, including hydrocodone. Id. at 7. Johnson ultimately transported Parrish to the Hamilton County Jail after a search of his car revealed marijuana and open beer cans. Id. at 9.

         Upon arrival, Parrish had to sit on a chair in the jail's garage for approximately 45 minutes until he could be booked into the jail. Id. at 11. Eventually, he was moved to booking and Dingman began the process of checking him into the jail. Doc. No. 24 at 11. Parrish testified that he knew Dingman prior to August 7, 2015, because their mothers went to nursing training together. Doc. No. 24 at 10. However, they had never socialized. Id. Dingman testified that he knew of Parrish from the time he was a child and was aware that Parrish suffered serious injuries due to the motorcycle accident. Id. at 26. Dingman also testified that he noticed that Parrish walked with a limp. Id. at 31.

         During booking, Parrish requested permission to keep his orthopedic shoes and his glasses, which was granted. Doc. No. 24 at 11. Parrish also requested to be placed in isolation, as he believed he would be unable to defend himself if housed with another inmate due to his various conditions. However, Parrish is not certain that he made the reason for his request clear to Dingman. Specifically, Parrish testified that he recalled telling Dingman that he wanted to “be in isolation because of [his] physical injuries, ” but does not “recall saying [he wanted to be in isolation] so [he] could protect [himself].” Doc. No. 24 at 12. Dingman does not recall Parrish making this request during the booking procedures. Dingman testified that Parrish was cooperative at this time (Doc. No. 24 at 27-28) and Parrish testified that Dingman was polite and professional during the booking process (Doc. No. 24 at 11).

         Parrish was given a mattress to carry, which he was able to do. Doc. No. 24 at 12-13. Dingman directed Parrish to a cell with another inmate already in it. A video recording (Video), submitted as an exhibit to defendants' motion, depicts the events that occurred next. Parrish walked through the open door of the cell while Dingman was behind him. Video, 11:45-11:46. Parrish was carrying the foam mattress at this time. Id. Although there is no audio, it is plain from the video that Parrish walks into the cell, notices that it is occupied by a sleeping person, and then turns around to face Dingman. Id. Dingman is seen to be shaking his head “no.” Id.; see also Doc. No. 24 at 15. Dingman and Parrish testified that this was in response to a request to be put in isolation. Doc. No. 24 at 13-14, 31.

         Parrish, who was not far from the door, stepped forward into the door frame with his mattress in front of him. Video at 11:46; Doc. No. 24 at 30. Dingman testified that the mattress made contact with his chest, although admittedly not with much force. Doc. No. 24 at 28. While Dingman and Parrish both testified that at least the mattress was through the door, from the video it also appears that Parrish himself was within the door frame. Video at 11:46; Doc. No. 24 at 14-15 (“Q. The mattress was outside the doorway, and that was in front of you; correct? A. Yes. . . . I made motion towards the doorway to get the jailer's attention . . . . ”); Id. at 30 (“I could not close the door because the mattress got into the door frame). Dingman testified that he believed the mattress was “being used as a shield to interfere with my ability to stop [Parrish] from leaving the cell . . . . [I]t interferes with my ability to protect myself.” Id. at 30. Dingman testified that he believed Parrish intended to exit the cell at this time. Id.; see also Doc. No. 37-4 at 4 (“Inmate Parrish then thrust his mattress forward towards me and tried to shove his way past me in an attempt to extricate himself from the holding cell.”).

         Dingman stepped into the cell, pushing Parrish against the wall briefly before leveraging him to the ground, with his hands on Parrish's arm and neck, and cuffing his wrists behind his back. Video at 11:46-47; Doc. No. 24 at 15 (“Q. He never just threw you down and let go; correct? A. No. He was right on top of me the whole time.”); Doc. No. 37-4 at 4. Parrish agrees that Dingman never tased him, used pepper spray on him or physically hit him. Doc. No. 24 at 17. Instead, the sole basis for his complaint is the takedown seen on the video at 11:46-47.[1] Id.

         Parrish testified that he injured his lower back as a result of this incident. Doc. No. 24 at 17. Specifically, four ribs were “out on one side” requiring chiropractic treatment. Id. Parrish saw a chiropractor, Dr. Lee, weekly for six months following the incident but testified that his injuries were resolved in “about a month or a little less.” Doc. No. 24 at 19-20. Parrish also states that his wrists, particularly the right wrist, were swollen and bruised as a result of being handcuffed (id.), and that he suffered emotional trauma (Doc. No. 37-4 at 25).

         X-rays of Parrish's wrist, taken August 8, 2015, were normal. Doc. No. 24 at 17-18. Parrish testified that he returned to physical therapy to treat his right wrist-the same wrist that required treatment after the motorcycle accident. Id. Parrish missed a couple of weeks of work following his arrest. Id. at 21. Finally, Parrish testified that he took Clonazepam, an anti-anxiety medication, for a few months after the arrest. Id.


         Any party may move for summary judgment regarding all or any part of the claims asserted in a case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is ...

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