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Carpenter v. Klamath County Jail

United States District Court, D. Oregon

March 13, 2018



          Ann Aiken, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff, a former inmate at the Klamath County jail, filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and alleged deliberate indifference to his safety and serious medical needs. Defendant Klamath County jail (the County) now moves for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. For the reasons set forth below, the County's motion is granted and this case is dismissed.


         On August 8, 2016, plaintiff was booked into the Klamath County jail for violating the terms of his probation. Carpenter Dep. at 13, 16 (Warren Decl. Ex. 1) (ECF No. 44). On August 9, 2016, plaintiff and three other inmates were moved into booking cell 3. Id. at 70-72; Bryson Decl.

         Plaintiff and one of the inmates, Zachary Brennan, had a brief verbal dispute. Carpenter Dep. at 72-73. Plaintiff then "flipped off Brennan and lay down on his mattress with his back to Brennan. Id. at 75, 77. After plaintiff lay down, Brennan immediately attacked plaintiff and hit him with a phone Brennan had been holding. Id. at 75. Brennan was recorded hitting plaintiff twice with the phone at the beginning of the fight before dropping it and continuing to hit plaintiff. Bryson Decl. Ex. 1 @ 13:34:57.

         Another inmate in cell 3 alerted the guards by knocking on the window to cell 3, and three deputies entered the cell and broke up the fight. Id. at 75; Bryson Decl. Ex. 1 @ 13:35:38.

         After the assault, plaintiff was transported to the hospital by ambulance. Carpenter Dep. at 47, 80. Plaintiff was treated for his injuries and returned to the jail. When plaintiff returned, he was housed in booking cell 7 under medical observation and remained there until he was released two days later. Id. at 83, 85. The doctor at the hospital told plaintiff to follow up with them in two days. Id. at 81. After plaintiff was released from the jail on August 11, 2016, he did not follow up with any medical provider. Id. at 17, 81, 90.

         Jail officials filed a report with the Klamath County District Attorney and Brennan was charged and convicted of assaulting plaintiff. Carpenter Dep. at 50.

         Later that fall, plaintiff was incarcerated in the Klamath County Jail two more times, in October and December of 2016. Id. at 103.


         Plaintiff alleges that the Klamath County jail exhibited deliberate indifference to his health and safety by failing to protect him from assault and by failing to provide adequate medical care after the attack. The County moves for summary judgment on grounds that the evidence of record contradicts plaintiffs claims and establishes no violation of his rights. To prevail on its motion, the County must show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The court must construe the evidence and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Torres v. City of Madera, 648 F.3d 1119, 1123 (9th Cir. 2011).

         I evaluate plaintiffs claims of deliberate indifference under the Fourteenth Amendment because his status as a probation violator is equivalent to that of a pretrial detainee. Anderson v. Cnty. of Kern, 45 F.3d 1310, 1312, as amended on denial ofreh'g, 75 F.3d 448 (9th Cir. 1995) (stating that the "convicted inmates' challenge is evaluated under the Eighth Amendment, and the pretrial detainees' challenge is evaluated under the Fourteenth Amendment"); Weishaar v. Cnty. of Napa, 2016 WL 7242122, at *6 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2016) (treating an arrested probation violator as a pretrial detainee and analyzing claims under the Fourteenth Amendment) (citing Ressy v. King Cnty., 520 F.3d App'x 554, 555 (9th Cir. May 22, 2013)).

         Deliberate indifference under the Fourteenth Amendment is shown when a prison official knew or should have known that a detainee faced a "substantial risk of serious harm" and failed to take reasonable measures to abate the risk. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994); see also Castro v. Cnty. of Los Angeles, 833 F.3d 1060, 1070-71 (9th Cir. 2016) (en banc), cert denied, Los Angeles Cnty. v. Castro, 137 S.Ct. 831 (2017).[1] Here, the record clearly shows that the County was not deliberately indifferent to plaintiffs safety or to his medical needs.

         As an initial matter, plaintiffs claims are alleged solely against the County, as the local governmental body and legal entity in charge of the jail. See generally Am. Compl. (ECF No. 17). "Liability may attach to a municipality only where the municipality itself causes the constitutional violation through 'execution of a government's policy or custom[.]"' Ulrich v. City & Cnty. of San Francisco,308 F.3d 968, 984 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs.,436 U.S. 658, 694 (1978)). In other words, to hold the County liable, plaintiff must show ...

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