United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion is
September 2015, Plaintiff Barton Roberts was an inmate at the
Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF) in St. Cloud. (2d Am.
Compl. (Docket No. 54) ¶ 13.) Late on Friday, September
25, he began feeling ill. (Moccio Decl. (Docket No. 98) Ex. 1
(Barton Dep.) at 184.) He was vomiting and felt dizzy.
(Id.) He reported his symptoms to an unidentified
passing corrections officer, but the officer did not assist
him. (Id.) It is undisputed that the only three
named Defendants, Corrections Officers Craig Gondeck and
Curtis Gapinski and Corrections Sergeant Jay Kopel, were not
on duty at the time Roberts fell ill. (Gondeck Aff. (Docket
No. 86) ¶ 2; Gapinski Aff. (Docket No. 84) ¶ 3;
Kopel Aff. (Docket No. 85) ¶ 2.)
any of these Defendants work at MCF St. Cloud over the
weekend of September 26 and 27. (Id.) Roberts
acknowledges that there is no physician on duty at the prison
over the weekend; inmates who are ill may see a nurse.
Roberts did not request to see a nurse, although he contends
that unidentified corrections officers who were on duty that
weekend were aware that he was ill.
Defendants worked at the facility on Monday. (Gondeck Aff.
¶ 3; Gapinski Aff. ¶ 4; Kopel Aff. ¶ 3.) That
morning, Roberts asked another inmate, identified only as
“New York, ” to tell the corrections officers
that Roberts was too ill to report to his prison job.
(Roberts Dep. at 17-18.) Somehow, Roberts's name was put
on the sick call list, but that list showed that Roberts
needed to see a dentist, not a physician. (Marisam Aff.
(Docket No. 80) Ex. 6.) Roberts denies asking New York or
anyone else to put him on a dental sick call list and denies
that the handwriting on the list is his. (Roberts Dep. at
18.) Roberts contends that he spoke to all three Defendants
on Monday, September 28, and that each either ignored his
symptoms, minimized his illness, or refused to help him.
examined Roberts on Tuesday, September 29, after he was
transported to Washington County for a court appearance. The
nurse told Roberts to drink water and keep an eye on himself.
(Id. at 22-23; see also Marisam Aff. Ex. 7
(Washington County Jail intake nurse's notes).) Roberts
did not return to MCF St. Cloud until Thursday, October 1.
The intake nurse at MCF St. Cloud examined Roberts, who
complained of vertigo-like symptoms. (Roberts Dep. at 81.)
The nurse called the on-duty physician, who thought the
vertigo symptoms might be caused by an abscessed tooth.
(Id. at 82-83.) Roberts then went to the
facility's dentist, who extracted the tooth.
(Id. at 8-9.) Just after dinner that evening,
Roberts collapsed outside his cell. (Id. at 85.)
Gondeck, who was doing rounds, immediately requested
emergency care for Roberts. (Id. at 86-87.) After a
nurse examined him, he was transported by ambulance to the
hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke.
(Id. at 88, 225.) Roberts did not return to MCF St.
Cloud, and was ultimately released from prison at the end of
December 2015. (Zetah Aff. (Docket No. 89) Ex. 2.)
expert witness, Dr. Scott Lipson, opined that Roberts first
experienced a stroke late on September 25 or early on
September 26. (Marisam Aff. Ex. 8 (Lipson Expert Report) at
2.) According to Dr. Lipson, had the facility properly
recognized Roberts's symptoms as a stroke at that time,
he could have received immediate and time-sensitive treatment
that would have minimized the damage the first stroke did to
his neurological system, and he would not have experienced
the second, more damaging, stroke on October 1. (Id.
brought this lawsuit initially against not only the three
named Defendant corrections officers, but also against MCF
St. Cloud Warden Collin Gau, the private prison healthcare
provider, and the physician who examined him on October 1.
(Compl. (Docket No. 1) ¶¶ 2, 4, 6.) Roberts
resolved his claims against the physician, the healthcare
provider, and Warden Gau, and those claims were dismissed
with prejudice. (Docket Nos. 68, 77.) All that remains is
Roberts's claim that the three corrections officer
Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 because they were
deliberately indifferent to Roberts's serious medical
needs. Defendants seek summary judgment on that claim.
judgment is proper if there are no disputed issues of
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court must view the
evidence and inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th
Cir. 1996). The moving party bears the burden of showing that
there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A party opposing a
properly supported motion for summary judgment may not rest
on mere allegations or denials, but must set forth specific
facts in the record showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 256 (1986).
establish a claim of deliberate indifference to serious
medical needs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a prisoner must
show both “an objectively serious medical need”
and “that the defendant actually knew of, but
deliberately disregarded, such need.” Vaughn v.
Gray, 557 F.3d 904, 908 (8th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted). In addition, because the prison officials here are
state actors, Roberts must overcome their qualified immunity
defense. To do this, he must show that “the facts,
viewed in the light most favorable to [him], demonstrate the
deprivation of a constitutional or statutory right” and
that “the right was clearly established at the time of
the deprivation.” Howard v. Kan. City Police
Dep't, 570 F.3d 984, 988 (8th Cir. 2009).
“Intentional delay in providing medical treatment shows
deliberate disregard if a reasonable person would know that
the inmate requires medical attention or the actions of the
officers are so dangerous that a knowledge of the risk may be
presumed.” Gordon ex rel. Gordon v. Frank, 454
F.3d 858, 862 (8th Cir. 2006).
claim that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to his
serious medical needs depends in large part on the
prison's failure to get him medical help over the weekend
of September 26 and 27. But these Defendants cannot be liable
for anything that happened over the weekend, because they
were not at the prison during that time. Roberts claims that
he was too sick to notice which corrections officers he
encountered during the weekend for the purpose of naming them
in this lawsuit, and while the Court is sympathetic to
Roberts's plight, the Court cannot hold a Defendant
liable for the actions of other individuals. The three
Defendants were not at the prison over the weekend and their
liability can only arise out of actions they took or failed
to take on Monday, September 28.
also argues that the three Defendants were deliberately
indifferent for not recognizing the seriousness of his
symptoms on Monday, and thus that summary judgment is
inappropriate. An objectively serious medical need is one
that is either supported by a physician's diagnosis or is
“so obvious that even a layperson would easily
recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Bailey v. Feltmann, 810 F.3d 589, 594 (8th Cir.
2016) (quotation omitted). “Establishing the subjective
component of a deliberate indifference claim requires showing
‘a mental state akin to criminal recklessness' and