United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division
LEONARD T. STRAND, CHIEF JUDGE.
case is before me on defendants' motion (Doc. No. 19) for
summary judgment. Plaintiff James Tyson has not filed a
resistance and the time to do so has expired. Oral argument
is not necessary. See N.D. Ia. L. R. 7(c).
has filed multiple pro se cases in Iowa's federal courts.
On April 25, 2018, I entered an initial review order (Doc.
No. 2) on three of Tyson's cases (C18-0013-LTS,
C18-0039-LTS, C18-0045-LTS). In that order, I granted
Tyson's application to proceed in forma pauperis, found
that the complaint in C18-0013-LTS should be dismissed as
frivolous and ordered that the remaining two cases be
consolidated. Doc. No. 2 at 6-8. Regarding the consolidated
complaint, I allowed Tyson's suit to proceed on a claim
that his due process rights have been infringed related to
his mental health treatment:
In the supplemental complaint from C18-0045-LTS, Tyson states
that the defendants gave “false statements” that
caused him to be civilly committed as a mental health
patient. Tyson also complains about increased medication as a
result of this “commitment” and states that he
has the right “to refuse chemical treatment.”
However, I note that Tyson is not civilly committed. He is an
inmate serving a sentence for attempted murder at the Anamosa
State Penitentiary. See Tyson v. State, 2017 WL
363224 (Iowa Ct. App. 2017); James Charles Tyson,
Sr., Iowa Department of Corrections, Offender
Information, https://doc.iowa.gov/offender/view/ 1035241,
last accessed on April 23, 2018.
I assume Tyson is referring to a prison determination that he
was in need of mental health treatment or transfer to a
mental health unit. Regardless, he is correct that in some
situations prisoners have the right to refuse treatment, and
that they also have a due process interest in having forced
mental health treatment comport with constitutional
safeguards. See Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210
(1990) (noting a liberty interest in avoiding unwanted
medical treatment); see also Green v. Dormire, 691
F.3d 917, 923 (8th Cir. 2012) (analyzing a prisoner's
claim that transfer to a mental health unit and forced
medication violated his due process rights). At this early
stage of the case, a plausible claim must be allowed to
proceed. There is no indication in Tyson's complaint
about what process was used regarding his alleged transfer
and forced use of psychotropic medication, except his
allegation that “false statements” were used
against him. Accordingly, I will allow Tyson's claim that
his due process rights have been infringed related to his
mental heath treatment to proceed past initial review.
Doc. No. 2 at 7-8. I directed the Clerk of Court to file the
pro se complaint from CR18-0045-LTS as a supplemental
complaint in CR18-0039-LTS.
25, 2018, defendants filed an answer (Doc. No. 11) denying
Tyson's claims and asserting various immunities.
Defendants then filed their motion for summary judgment.
following facts are undisputed:
Tyson is an inmate at the Anamosa State Penitentiary (ASP) in
Anamosa, Iowa, serving a 40-year sentence for Attempted
Murder, Assault on an Employee of a Correction Facility and
Habitual Offender. Doc. No. 19-3 at 3. However, from March 6
to March 27, 2018, Tyson was transferred to the Iowa Medical
and Classification Center (IMCC) in Coralville, Iowa.
Id. at 4. Dr. Gary Keller is a psychiatrist at IMCC
and Matthew Sperfslage is a social worker at IMCC. Doc. No.
19-2 at ¶ 3. Both defendants were involved with the
court-ordered involuntary medication at the center of
has a history of chronic mental health diagnoses dating back
to the early 1990s. Doc. No. 21 at 3. On March 6, 2018, Sperfslage
filed an Application in the Johnson County District Court to
have Tyson civilly committed under Iowa Code chapter 229.
Id. at 6-7. A statement from Dr. Keller in support
of the petition was attached in accordance with Iowa Code
§ 229.6(c)(1). Id. at 8-9; see generally In
re James Charles Tyson, Sr., No. 06521
MHMH015845 (Johnson Cnty., Iowa). Dr. Keller described the
basis for civil commitment as follows:
Mr. Tyson while at Anamosa has been followed regularly by our
mental health staff. Over the course of time he has been
noted to struggle with compliance, an issue noted during his
prior incarceration culminating in 2008 with a commitment. He
has struggled with receiving behavioral reports while in the
system, most recently 8 major reports and 23 minor reports
this past year. He is noted that at the timing of the reports
he has often had stretches of non-compliance with medication.
Most recently concerns about his overall well-being ar[ose]
again this December. On 12/12/2017 as part of a minor report
sanction, he was asked to write an essay and what he turned
in was delusional loose thoughts about religion and sexual
connotations. In turn, he became agitated when confronted
about this on 12/13/2017 and ended up on mental health status
after he became agitated, broke his desk, and threaten[ed] to
kill people saying he was “Al-Qaeda.” It was
noted that 11 of the 13 days before that incident he had not
been taking medications. Following that, he had a period of
improved compliance and it appeared his symptoms did improve.
With the end of December he complained again that the
medications were making him sleepy, and had been skipping
doses again of it, so in hopes of more consistent compliance
his dose was lowered hoping that he would be consistent about
taking it. He has been intermittent with compliance since
then, noting 11 missed doses in January, 8 missed doses in
February, and now already one dose in March.
Most recently, and what has prompted his transfer back to
[IMCC] today, Mr. Tyson received a report for having 2 shanks
found in his cell. It was noted in that same day he had been
complaining about feeling like another offender had been in
his cell and he was going to figure out who it was. In turn,
he threatened to hurt the person when he found out. It was
later that day they found 2 toothbrush handles with razors
attached to them. He proceeded to become threatening and
upset when he was placed in a security segregation status
after this and threatened to fight everybody when handcuffs
were removed. It was noted that he had refused 2 days of
medication preceding the incident.
In talking with him today about his mental illness, he denied
that he really has a mental illness, and believes he is
normal. He reported that he has been taking medic actions
since 1996 and he will only take the low dose of the
medications, or he won't take it at all. He reports he
“sleeps all the time” when on more medications.
He agreed that he believes people were messing with his stuff
in his cell, and denies anything about the shanks. I did
attempt to explain my concerns reviewing his history with him
and current events, and he cut me off again stating that he
will only take this dose as he “knows his body”
and this is what works for him.
In all, Mr. Tyson has a long history of mental illness, and a
long history of aggression, assaults, and violent behavior.
With this, he has a history of mental health and
non-compliance with treatment of such. In the past he has
been committed due to his non-compliance and dangerousness.
When appropriately treated with consistent medications, he
has been manageable. Unfortunately, he continues to lack
insight in to his medications and their effectiveness when
taken regularly as demonstrated by his non-compliance
followed by clear episodes of decompensation.
Id. at 8-9.
hearing was held before a Judicial Hospitalization Referee on
March 9, 2018. Id. at 10. Tyson was represented by
counsel at the hearing but refused to attend. Id. at
11. The Referee found by clear and convincing evidence that
Tyson was “seriously mentally impaired.”
Id. at 10. Specifically, she found that he was
“unable to make reasonable decisions regarding his
treatment” and that he “is a danger to himself
and others in his current state” because of his mental
illness. Id. Additionally, the Referee found that
Tyson is “treatable with medications, if he is at a
therapeutic dose.” Id. The hearing officer
ordered that Tyson be placed for a complete psychiatric
evaluation and ...