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McManemy v. Tierney

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

June 5, 2018

BRUCE TIERNEY, et al., Defendants.


          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.


         This case is before me on a motion (Doc. No. 34) for summary judgment filed by defendants Jennifer DeGroote, Karson Roose, DeWayne Viet, Jason Johnson, Jennifer Becker and Butler County, Iowa.[1] Plaintiff Charles McManemy has filed a resistance (Doc. No. 44) and defendants have replied (Doc. No. 53). I find that oral argument is not necessary. See N.D. Ia. L.R. 7(c).


         McManemy commenced this action by filing a complaint (Doc. No. 2) on March 16, 2017, and defendants answered, denying liability and raising various affirmative defenses. Doc. Nos. 14, 15, 17. The complaint includes several constitutional claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as claims brought under Iowa law against various state employees and two Iowa counties. All of the claims arise from the events that transpired during McManemy's March 18, 2015, arrest by officers from Butler and Grundy County, Iowa, and his subsequent period of incarceration in the Butler County jail from March 18, 2015, to October 7, 2015. The following claims are subject to the present motion:

Count V: Violation of Right to Due Process (§ 1983) against Johnson, Roose, DeGroote and Viet.
Count VI: Violation of Right to Bodily Integrity (§ 1983) against Johnson, Roose, DeGroote, Viet and Becker.
Count VII: Negligent Hiring, Training and Supervision (Iowa law) against Johnson and Butler County.
Count IX: Negligence (Iowa Law) against Johnson, Roose, DeGroote and Viet.

         The defendants filed their motion on March 12, 2018. After receiving an extension of time to conclude discovery, McManemy filed his resistance on May 14, 2018.


         Unless otherwise noted, the parties do not dispute the following facts: On March 18, 2015, defendant Kirk Dolleslager, a law enforcement officer with the Grundy County Sheriff's Office, attempted to initiate a traffic stop on McManemy.[2]Doc. No. 2 at ¶¶ 14, 18. McManemy did not immediately stop in response to Dolleslager's signal, and other officers became involved. Defendant Kiley Winterberg, a law enforcement officer with the Butler County Sheriff's Office, attempted to deploy a spike strip in front of McManemy's vehicle, but it went through the windshield and struck or grazed McManemy's shoulder. Id. at ¶¶ 6, 20. McManemy continued driving for several miles, with multiple deputies from Grundy and Butler Counties in pursuit. Id. at ¶ 21. McManemy brought his vehicle to a stop in the middle of the road on 320th St., west of Austinville, Iowa. Id. McManemy laid down in the middle of the road with his arms extended, presumably awaiting arrest. Id. at ¶ 22. According to the complaint, at that point defendants Dolleslager and Curt Lubben (another Butler County Sheriff's deputy) then tased McManemy five times. Id. at ¶¶ 24-28. Defendant Bruce Tierney (another Butler County Sheriff's deputy) allegedly arrived on the scene and kicked and kneed McManemy in the face. Id. at ¶ 31. As a result of these alleged acts, McManemy alleges he suffered injuries to his body as a whole, including injuries to his face, right eye, [3] shoulder, legs and back. Id. at ¶ 34.

         McManemy was booked into the Butler County Jail following his arrest. Doc. No. 35-2 at 59-60. His weight was reported at 230 pounds. Id. at 59. He was medically screened by staff upon booking, who noted nothing that suggested a need for immediate medical attention. Id. at 57-58. The screening form suggests that he was “roughed up” and that he had a history of heart trouble. However, he denied bleeding, pain and the need for emergency care. Id. McManemy stated that he was uninjured. Doc. No. 51 at 9. The jailers took photographs of his injuries during the booking process. Doc. No. 35-2 at 41 (discussing the photographs of various injured body parts). Only photographs of McManemy's face were submitted with the present motion. While there may be slight swelling around his left eye and eyebrow in the photo, it is difficult to see whether there are any contusions, scrapes or bruises elsewhere on his face. Id. at 52-55.

         McManemy alleges that he was unconstitutionally denied or delayed medical treatment for a variety of injuries and ailments, resulting in long-term harm. He was incarcerated at Butler County Jail for just under seven months. During that time, he was seen by the jail nurse, defendant Becker, at least five times (Id. at 89-90, 96, 98-99), and by external physicians eight times. Id. at 61-65, 67-68, 71-88. McManemy testified that he was always provided his prescribed medications and that he received over-the-counter medications when he asked for them. Id. at 42, 50. He testified that every time he wished to see a health-care provider, he was given the appropriate medical request form to fill out. Id. at 43. There are no request forms in the record that do not correspond to a visit by the Butler County nurse, an external practitioner or-in one case-a subsequent communication (as requested in the form) between Becker and McManemy's psychiatrist regarding his medications.

         A. Eye Care

         McManemy alleges his left eye was seriously injured during the arrest and there is little dispute he developed a mild black eye shortly following admission to the jail. On March 24, 2015, McManemy was seen by Becker for blurred vision in his left eye. Id. at 89. Becker described a healing black eye: “upper eye lid [was] ecchymotic with fading purple/green coloration. Upper lid is slightly edematous and left eyebrow is slightly edematous.” Id., see also Doc. No. 44-2 at 107 (Becker's testimony that “he had some fading bruises, which is what ecchymosis is, of the upper eyelid-on the left, that would be-and slight swelling of his eyelid and his eyebrow”). Becker recommended that McManemy take ibuprofen to help with the pain. Doc. No. 35-2 at 89. She stated that “nothing in [her] experience and [her] education . . . would have made me believe he needed to be checked again. He had a slightly swollen eye and a slightly swollen eyebrow and some bruising.” Doc. No. 44-2 at 110.

         On May 11, 2015, McManemy requested medical attention, circling the “emergency” option on the jail's standard form. Id. at 67. He described his symptoms as severe head pain radiating from his left eye all throughout his head, sensitivity to light, and eye twitching. Id. Becker responded to the request for treatment the next day. Doc. No. 35-2 at 90. Becker noted that McManemy's left pupil was “round, equal and reactive to light, ” and that there was no “redness of sclera or conjunctiva.” Id. She recommended that he be seen by an ophthalmologist, and an appointment was made for two days later with Dr. Mauer. Id. Dr. Mauer concluded that McManemy was suffering from a contusion (bruise) and nodular episcleritis (inflammation) in his left eye and prescribed Pred Forte drops. Id. at 74-75. McManemy was directed to come back for a follow-up in one month. Id. On June 7, 2015, McManemy filled out a medical request form asking to return to Dr. Mauer.

         McManemy returned to the ophthalmologist on July 7, 2015, where both the contusion and the episcleritis were described as improved. Id. at 78-79. McManemy was seen by the ophthalmologist a final time on September 10, 2015, describing symptoms of “floaters” in his left eye (ongoing for two months), headache, and left eye pain. Id. at 80. The ophthalmologist assessed “vitreous opacities” in the left eye, which he described as a new onset symptom. Id. Although the ophthalmologist discussed the signs and symptoms of retinal detachment with McManemy, he did not diagnose retinal detachment during this examination.[4] Id. at 81. No. course of treatment was prescribed or recommended, but McManemy was instructed to return in six months for a retina check. Id. No further records were provided related to McManemy's left eye, and it is unclear whether he has sought further treatment for this condition. During his January 4, 2018, deposition, McManemy testified that he still has eye pain, vision loss, headaches and floaters. Id. at 36. There is no medical documentation of vision loss.

         B. Mental Health

         McManemy applied for mental health services through the jail on April 28, 2015. Id. at 47. He was first seen by a psychiatrist, Dr. Antony, on May 13, 2015. Id. at 61-65. McManemy reported that his “anxiety is real high . . . I have mood swings. In the morning I feel like punching everyone [in the] face. I have racing thoughts.” Id. at 64. Although McManemy testified that he had never had mental health problems prior to his incarceration in Butler County (Doc. No. 44-2 at 38), the medical records indicate a history of such problems, including depression, mood swings, impulse control issues, anxiety and insomnia. Doc. No. 35-2 at 64. He had previously been on medication for these issues while he was incarcerated, but it is unclear whether he ever received treatment outside of jail. Id. Dr. Antony diagnosed McManemy with bipolar and anxiety disorder, and prescribed Depakote, Mirtazapine and Remeron. Id. at 61-63, 65.

         On June 1, 2015, McManemy was seen by another psychiatrist, Dr. Jack, who increased McManemy's Depakote dosage and added Trazadone. Id. at 71-73. Dr. Antony saw McManemy again on June 27, 2015, after he complained that his current medications were not helping and that he was having racing thoughts. Id. at 67-68. Dr. Antony added a prescription for Seroquel to help with sleep disturbances. Id. On July 3, 2015, McManemy filled out a medical request form asking Becker to email his psychiatrist (Dr. Antony) to adjust his medications. Doc. No. 44-2 at 49. Dr. Antony did so via email on July 7, 2015, without an in-person visit. Doc. No. 35-2 at 70. No. medical records have been provided related to McManemy's mental health after that July 7 interaction. However, McManemy contends that he still experiences symptoms that he attributes to his time in the Butler County jail.

         C. Hypertension and Diabetes[5]

         On May 27, 2015, McManemy reported that he thought his blood pressure was high. His blood pressure was measured at 140/72 and it appears no further action was taken at that time. Id. at 94. On June 18, 2015, McManemy requested medical attention because his legs and feet were swollen. Doc. No. 44-2 at 57. Becker saw McManemy the same day and recommended that he be seen by a doctor. Id. McManemy's blood pressure was recorded between 160/102 and 148/96. Id. An appointment was scheduled at Peoples Community Health Clinic in Clarkesville, Iowa (Peoples Clinic), for the following day. McManemy was diagnosed with hypertension and instructed to reduce his sodium intake and take in extra water during the day. Doc. No. 35-2 at 82. His blood pressure was recorded at 140/82 and he weighed 291.80 pounds. Id. McManemy was instructed to return for a follow-up appointment in six months and the ARNP suggested compression stockings to help with the swelling in his legs. Id.

         On September 9, 2015, McManemy was seen again at Peoples Clinic one day after requesting medical attention for his swollen legs. Id. at 84-85, 98. The ARNP switched McManemy's prescription to a different water pill to address the swelling in his legs, and prescribed compression stockings. Id. at 84. McManemy's blood pressure had improved to 118/80, although he had continued to gain weight. Id. He was advised that he needed to try to keep his sodium intake down and drink plenty of water.[6] Id. McManemy testified that he was prescribed a low sodium diet (Doc. No. 44-2 at 37) but the two records from Peoples Clinic are the only documentation of any dietary restrictions and they are not prescriptions. The Butler County Jail's policy requires a prescription for medical dietary modifications. Doc. No. 35-2 at 41. Johnson testified that the menu at the Butler County Jail was regularly approved by a dietician and the menu was re-certified in June 2015. Doc. No. 51 at 32-33, 35.

         A lab report dated September 8, 2015, indicates that McManemy's blood sugar was flagged as high at that time. However, the report does not include any analysis of the data and the medical records from Peoples Clinic do not discuss the possibility of a diabetes diagnosis. Doc. No. 35-2 at 87. McManemy has provided no expert testimony to suggest that either the jailers or the doctors should have recognized this sole symptom as indicative of problems beyond hypertension.

         Upon admission to Oakdale in October 2015, McManemy was diagnosed for the first time with Type 2 diabetes.[7] At this point, he weighed 309 pounds. Id. at 47. McManemy states he was placed on a special diet when he was transferred to Oakdale but at the time he was deposed in this case he had been released and re-incarcerated at a jail in Bremer County, and again at Oakdale, without receiving a special diet.[8] Id. at 49. The defendants allege that McManemy caused or worsened his health problems by voluntarily eating junk food, candy and soda from the commissary, and by refusing opportunities to exercise. Doc. Nos. 35-2 at 44; 51 at 38-39.


         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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