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Mead v. Palmer

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 24, 2015

Marvin Allen Mead, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Director Charles Palmer, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, Defendant, Jason Smith, Superintendent of CCUSO Unit Cherokee Mental Health Institute; Mary Benson, Medical Nurse/Medical Tech of CCUSO Unit Cherokee Mental Health Institute, Defendants - Appellants, Brad Wittrock, Director of Security Operations; Bob Stout, Religious Coordinator/Chaplin, Defendants

Submitted April 16, 2015.

Page 933

Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Sioux City.

Marvin Allen Mead, Plaintiff - Appellee, Pro se, Cherokee, IA.

For Marvin Allen Mead, Plaintiff - Appellee: Pamela Ann Wingert, Wingert Law Office, Spirit Lake, IA.

For Jason Smith, Superintendent of CCUSO Unit Cherokee Mental Health Institute, Mary Benson, Medical Nurse/Medical Tech of CCUSO Unit Cherokee Mental Health Institute, Defendants - Appellants: Gretchen Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, Des Moines, IA.

Before BYE and SMITH, Circuit Judges, and SCHILTZ[1] District Judge. BYE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

OPINION

Page 934

SMITH, Circuit Judge.

In this interlocutory appeal, Director Jason Smith, M.D., and Nurse Mary Benson, both of Iowa's Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO) (collectively, " defendants" ),[2] appeal the district court's order denying them qualified immunity from damages in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit brought by Marvin Mead, a patient civilly committed at the CCUSO. Mead claimed that he was denied essential dental care because the defendants required him to pay for partial dentures and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need by denying him the dentures.

After careful review of the record--and within the constraints of our appellate jurisdiction in this interlocutory appeal--we conclude that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity from damages on Mead's claim regarding the denial of partial dentures. See Stoner v. Watlingten, 735 F.3d 799, 802 (8th Cir. 2013) (de novo review); Robbins v. Becker, 715 F.3d 691, 693 (8th Cir. 2013) ( court has jurisdiction to review denial of qualified immunity only to extent that denial turns on issue of law). Accordingly, we reverse.

I. Background

Mead's amended § 1983 complaint alleged that the defendants " denied [him] adequate dental care" by depriving him of " extensive dental care that he is unable to afford" and were " deliberately indifferent to [his] need for dental care in violation of his constitutional rights." He alleged that he had many teeth pulled while in custody, was unable to chew food properly, suffered from acid reflux, and had become diabetic. He sought injunctive relief and damages.

The defendants moved for summary judgment arguing that Mead had sufficient funds to pay for a partial denture plate and failed to demonstrate a serious medical need because (1) he had not requested and did not want a soft diet, (2) he had not lost weight, (3) he had complained of discomfort but not pain, (4) he had stated that he was satisfied with his medical care, and (5) no dentist had concluded that Mead had a serious medical need for dentures. The defendants argued that they were entitled to qualified immunity, not personally responsible for Mead's alleged damages, and immune from money damages. In an attached statement of facts, they alleged that Mead had $1,300 in his account and that buying a partial plate would cost approximately $1,200. The defendants' appendix included ...


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