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Haggins v. Ramsey County

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 30, 2019

DeJuan Haywood Haggins Plaintiff,
v.
Ramsey County et al., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          KATHERINE MENENDEZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff DeJuan Haywood Haggins sued the defendants Ramsey County and several corrections officers (collectively, “Defendants”) in their official and individual capacities, alleging that he was subjected to excessive force while in Ramsey County custody. The Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 125.) After careful review of the record and all submissions, the Court recommends that the Defendants' motion be GRANTED, and this case dismissed.

         FACTS

         A. The Transfer of Mr. Haggins

         In 2009, when the alleged incident occurred, Mr. Haggins was incarcerated at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater (“MCF-Stillwater”). On February 23, he was briefly transferred to the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center (“ADC”) for a hearing in a criminal case in Ramsey County District Court. (Affidavit of Robert Roche, Ex. B.; Amend. Compl., ECF No. 5.) Mr. Haggins had a long history of disruptive and violent behavior at ADC, including making violent threats to other inmates and staff members and actually assaulting both inmates and staff. (Affidavit of Brad Lindberg, Exs. A, B.) His violent behavior is so consistent and extreme that any time he is in custody in Ramsey County, he is required to be housed in a restricted area for the protection of others. (Lindberg Aff. ¶¶ 3, 4.) Additionally, staff must always move Mr. Haggins in full restraints with a two-officer escort. (Id.) ADC staff were ordered to treat Mr. Haggins as dangerous when interacting with him. (Id. ¶¶ 2- 4, Ex. A.)

         On February 23, 2009, officers responded to reports of Mr. Haggins causing a disturbance in the open booking area of the ADC. (Roche Aff. Ex. F.) They were asked to move Mr. Haggins to segregation because of the disturbance. (Id.) When they arrived, they spoke with Mr. Haggins through a door and asked if he would cooperate. (Id.) He responded with threats to the staff. (Id.) Officers then asked Mr. Haggins to turn around, place his hands behind his back, and place his hands through the food pass so that he could be handcuffed. (Id.). Instead, Mr. Haggins moved to the back of the cell, so the officers opened the door in order to restrain him. (Id.) As officers approached, Mr. Haggins took a “fighting stance, ” at which point the officers took Mr. Haggins to the ground to be cuffed. (Id.)

         B. Mr. Haggins's Alleged Injuries

         The ADC report of the incident on February 23 stated that no injuries were sustained by either staff or Mr. Haggins. (Id.) However, Mr. Haggins claimed numerous injuries following the incident, including a “busted” lip, black eye, whiplash, bruising on his torso, a broken tooth, and a bloody nose. (Amend. Compl., ECF No. 5.) Mr. Haggins was sent to the Transfer Release Area of the ADC to be transported to the Ramsey county Courthouse. (Affidavit of Michael Harer, ¶¶ 2-3, Ex. A.) Officer Michael Harer, who was present with Mr. Haggins on February 23, 2009, did not observe any sign of injuries on Mr. Haggins. (Id.) Further, had there been visible injuries, Officer Harer would not have released Mr. Haggins for transportation to the courthouse until he had been seen by medical staff. (Id.)

         Shortly after the incident, Mr. Haggins appeared in front of Ramsey County Judge Rosanne Nathanson and told her that he had been “rumbling” with “six or seven” corrections officers earlier that morning, and that “if I was a white guy, I'd have a lot of bruises on me right now-believe that.” (Haggins Ex. F, ECF No. 150.) Judge Nathanson gave a deposition in this case and testified that although she was within a few feet of Mr. Haggins, she did not note any visible injuries. (Roche Aff. Ex. I, 24:6-20.) She further testified that, had she noticed any injuries, she would have made a record of the injuries and tried to find out where they had come from. (Id., 25:1-14.) Further, she would have expected Mr. Haggins's attorney, Michael Davis, to note for the record if it had appeared that Mr. Haggins had been harmed. (Id., 30:24-31:4.) There is no indication on the record of the February 23, 2009 proceeding that Mr. Davis, the prosecutor Daniel Vlieger, or Judge Nathanson noted any obvious sign of harm on Mr. Haggins.

         Mr. Haggins was returned to MCF-Stillwater that same day, where he interacted with corrections officer Bryan Milliron. Officer Milliron had received a report of the incident at the ADC, but did not recall observing any injuries on Mr. Haggins. (Affidavit of Bryan Milliron, ¶ 3.) Mr. Haggins states that Officer Milliron and he conversed about an injury to the inside of Mr. Haggins's lip (ECF No. 145), but there is no record of this. Officer Milliron states that had Mr. Haggins reported any injuries, he would have been taken for an evaluation at health services, where a record would have been made. (Milliron Aff., ¶ 3.)

         Mr. Haggins also met with Clinical Program Therapist Paige Berg twice in the days after the February 23 incident. On February 24, 2009, Mr. Haggins met with Ms. Berg and reported no incident or injuries. (Affidavit of Paige Berg, Ex. A.) On February 26, 2009, Mr. Haggins told Ms. Berg about “an altercation” at the ADC, but again did not report any injuries. (Berg. Aff. Ex. C.) Ms. Berg also noted no visible injuries on either occasion.

         Mr. Haggins brought an excessive force claim against Ramsey County and the correctional officers involved in the incident at the ADC. (ECF No. 5) The Defendants now move for summary judgment. (ECF No. 123.)

         ANALYSIS

         A. Summary ...


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