United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane, United States District Judge
Shane Charlton brings this civil rights action against
seventeen Oregon prison officials. Mr. Charlton alleges in
relevant part that he was the victim of both excessive force
and deliberate medical neglect while an inmate at Eastern
Oregon Correctional Institution. He asserts claims pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivations of his Fourteenth
Amendment right to procedural due process and Eighth
Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual
punishment. Defendants move for summary judgment as to
each of Mr. Charlton's claims. Although no reasonable
jury could find that any defendant used excessive force
against Mr. Charlton or that Mr. Charlton was denied
procedural due process, there remains a genuine dispute of
fact as to whether eight of the defendants were deliberately
indifferent to his serious medical need. Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment is therefore GRANTED in part.
Shane Charlton was an inmate at Eastern Oregon Correctional
Institution (“EOCI”) from September 9, 2014 to
June 24, 2015. Yepez Decl. ¶ 4. On the night of December
23, 2014, Mr. Charlton was involved in a physical altercation
with Francisco Yepez, a correctional officer at EOCI.
Charlton Decl. 1; Yepez Decl. ¶¶ 7-9. The
altercation occurred in the television room of the A-3
housing unit and, during the altercation, Officer Yepez
discharged oleoresin capsicum spray (“pepper
spray”) into the face and body of Mr. Charlton.
Charlton Decl. 1; Yepez Decl. ¶¶ 5-6, 9. Mr.
Charlton was removed from the television room shortly after
the altercation and taken to the Disciplinary Segregation
Unit (“DSU”). Charlton Decl. 1-2; Walker Decl.
¶ 8. He remained in disciplinary segregation until
December 26. Charlton Decl. 3; Walker Decl. ¶¶
parties agree that Officer Yepez and Mr. Charlton engaged in
a verbal exchange prior to their physical altercation. At
approximately 8:30 PM, Officer Yepez was walking through the
television room when Mr. Charlton stated to him, “Look,
I'm turning around in the TV room.” Yepez Decl.
¶ 5. This comment was made in response to an earlier
admonishment by Officer Yepez that Mr. Charlton should stop
“turning in his chair and talking” while other
inmates are watching television. Yepez Decl. ¶¶
5-6. Officer Yepez, perceiving the remark as
“inappropriate and disrespectful, ” returned to
the small Officer's Station at the back of the room and
summoned Mr. Charlton over the public address system.
Charlton Decl. 1; Yepez Decl. ¶¶ 6-7.
Charlton's version of events, Officer Yepez proceeded to
“initiate[ ] an argument that resulted in his use of
[pepper spray], ” though Mr. Charlton makes no other
representations about the substance of that argument or why
it resulted in the use of force. See Charlton Decl.
1-3. Officer Yepez recounts that he asked Mr. Charlton why he
had “mock[ed]” him in the television room and
that Mr. Charlton “denied” having done so. Yepez
Decl. ¶ 7. Apparently not satisfied with Mr.
Charlton's denial, Officer Yepez ordered him back to his
cell. Yepez Decl. ¶ 7. Instead of following the order,
Mr. Charlton “came around the [sliding door of] bars
and entered the officer's station while complaining about
the rules.” Yepez Decl. ¶ 7.
to Officer Yepez, Mr. Charlton ignored two more directives to
exit the Officer's Station and “rushed toward[
]” Officer Yepez, yelling “I'll show you what
disrespect is.” Yepez Decl. ¶ 7. Mr. Charlton then
“began throwing closed fist blows” to Officer
Yepez's head. Yepez Decl. ¶ 7. Officer Yepez recalls
that the blows dislodged his glasses and “pushed [him]
back into the corner of the officer's station.”
Yepez Decl. ¶ 8. After activating his body alarm and
calling for help, Officer Yepez “used a focused
blow” to Mr. Charlton's head and created a
“small amount of distance” from Mr. Charlton.
Yepez Decl. ¶ 9. This allowed Officer Yepez to retrieve
his pepper spray and “deliver one short burst” to
Mr. Charlton's face. Yepez Decl. ¶ 9.
Charlton states that, upon being hit with the pepper spray,
he “entered an altered [and] confused state of
consciousness with a memory black-out [sic].” Charlton
Decl. 1. This lapse in memory notwithstanding, Mr. Charlton
recalls, and Officer Yepez agrees, that he asked Officer
Yepez, “[W]hy did you spray me?” Charlton Decl.
1; Yepez Decl. ¶ 9. According to Mr. Charlton, Officer
Yepez then “used a continuous stream of [pepper spray]
directly into [his] face, neck[, ] and upper body.”
Charlton Decl. 1. The stream of pepper spray continued even
as Mr. Charlton “exited the station and had turned
[his] back to [Officer Yepez].” Charlton Decl. 1.
Officer Yepez contends that Mr. Charlton “advanced on
him again” after the initial burst of pepper spray,
prompting him to use the “continuous stream” of
spray. Yepez Decl. ¶ 9.
addition to the parties' own accounts, the record also
includes surveillance footage of the argument and ensuing
physical altercation. See Walker Decl. Att. 4
(“Att.”). Although the footage is without audio
and captured from across the television room, it clearly
shows the movements of both parties. In the footage, Mr.
Charlton can be seen walking over to the Officer's
Station and speaking with Officer Yepez. Att. 4 at 02:30-50.
The exchange lasts about twenty seconds and, during that
time, Officer Yepez remains calmly seated behind the counter.
Att. 4 at 02:30-50. The exchange escalates when Mr. Charlton
abruptly places his water container on the ground and walks
around the counter. Att. 4 at 02:50-53. The parties, now
face-to-face inside the Officer's Station, continue
talking for about 3 seconds. Att. 4 at 02:53-56.
point, Officer Yepez begins to stand and reach his left hand
back for a cannister of pepper spray. Att. 4 at 02:50-56.
Before Officer Yepez can bring his arm forward, however, Mr.
Charlton grabs it with his right hand and strikes Officer
Yepez in the face. Att. 4 at 02:56-58. For the next thirty
seconds, Mr. Charlton delivers blow after blow to the head
and neck area of Officer Yepez, who gets pinned in the back
corner of the Officer's Station. Att. 4 at 02:57-03:27.
When Officer Yepez finally delivers a direct blow to Mr.
Charlton's head, Mr. Charlton staggers back and Officer
Yepez is able to bend down and retrieve his pepper spray from
the floor. Att. 4 at 03:27-29. Although the spray itself is
not captured by the surveillance footage, Officer Yepez can
be seen pointing the spray canister at Mr. Charlton's
face. Att. 4 at 03:29. Mr. Charlton delivers several more
blows before recoiling when Officer Yepez trains the canister
on him a second time. Att. 4 at 03:33-35. Now clutching his
face, Mr. Charlton turns to exit the Officer's Station
but, before fully exiting, turns back to hurl a radio at
Officer Yepez. Att. 4 at 03:35-37.
parties agree that Mr. Charlton was next subdued by several
responding officers and escorted to the DSU. Charlton Decl.
1-2; Walker Decl. ¶ 8. Officer Yepez, for his part, was
transported to a nearby hospital and treated for a broken
nose. Yepez Decl. ¶ 11. In photographs taken shortly
after the incident, Officer Yepez's face is covered in
blood and the front of his shirt stained with splashes of the
same. Att. 3 at 47. Separate photographs show the bottoms of
Mr. Charlton's shirt sleeves saturated with blood and his
face covered with pepper spray and mucus. Att. 7 at 1-2, 5-6.
Although no blood is visible on his face, Mr. Charlton's
skin appears red and inflamed where it has been contacted by
the pepper spray. Att. 7 at 5-6, 7-9.
to Mr. Charlton, “despite the clear fact” that he
was “covered” with pepper spray and
“desperately needed either medical attention” or
a “shower, ” he was promptly “chained to
the wall in a small [DSU] holding cell [with] no running
water, no toilet, no bed, and no ventilation.” Charlton
Decl. 1-2. Officer Fitzgerald notes that pepper spray was
visible on Mr. Charlton's “face, hands, and
clothing” immediately after the altercation and at
least one officer in the DSU recalls that Mr. Charlton was
“complaining about the effects of the [pepper
spray].” Att. 3 at 18, 32. Sergeant Arguello states
that, “due to [Mr.] Charlton being sprayed, ” he
was issued “the proper towels to help clean up the
spray” and monitored by Officers Duncan, Reidmann, and
Olsen for “30 minutes in order to assist him to
decontaminate.” Att. 3 at 38. Mr. Charlton, however,
contends that he was provided only with “a small thin
facecloth” and that the facecloth just “served to
spread the [pepper spray] and rub it into [his] skin.”
Charlton Decl. 2; see also Att. 3 at 14.
Charlton also recalls that he requested and was denied
decontamination or other medical attention on three separate
occasions. See Charlton Decl. 2-3.
first occasion, at 8:55 PM, Mr. Charlton states that he asked
“to see a doctor” when Officer Reidmann and Nurse
Persinger entered his cell to conduct an “unclothed
body search.” Charlton Decl. 2. According to Mr.
Charlton, Nurse Persinger, who had covered her face in a
“surgical mask to avoid the strong fumes, ”
stated that she would “make sure” Mr. Charlton
did not see a doctor. Charlton Decl. 2. On the second
occasion, at 9:05 PM, Mr. Charlton states that he
“plea[ded] for relief from the agony” when
Officers Duncan, Olsen, and Reidmann entered his cell to
adjust his restraints, but was again denied help. Charlton
Decl. 2. On the final occasion, at 10:55 PM, Mr. Charlton
states that he “started banging the back of [his] head
against the cell wall to get attention to [his] pain,
discomfort[, ] and medical needs.” Charlton Decl. 2. In
response, Officers Duncan, Willingham, Kropornicki, and
Reidmann, as well as Sergeant Arguello and Nurse Persinger,
entered his cell, but only to apply new restraints. Charlton
12:45 AM on December 24, Lieutenant Peters, who had been in
the vicinity of Mr. Charlton's cell for the prior two
hours, determined that Mr. Charlton was calm enough to be
released from his restraints. Att. 3 at 42. He supervised as
several other officers removed the restraints and had Mr.
Charlton moved to a new DSU cell on “suicide
watch.” Charlton Decl. 3; Walker Decl. ¶ 16; Att.
3 at 42. According to Mr. Charlton, the new cell had
“no soap or effective running water” and officers
“would only turn on . . . enough water [for him] to
have a very short drink or flush the toilet.” Charlton
Decl. 3. He was moved to a DSU cell with running water on
December 25, but it was not until December 26 that Mr.
Charlton was finally “allowed to shower.”
Charlton Decl. 2; see also Walker Decl. ¶ 20
(noting no running water until December 26).
Charlton recounts that, for the duration of this four-day
ordeal, the pepper spray was “in [his] eyes and nose,
” as well as “eating into [his] skin, ”
causing a “constant burning pain.” Charlton Decl.
3. He alleges that “[t]he skin on [his] face, neck,
upper chest[, ] and back has been permanently damaged”
and “continues to burn and itch.” Charlton Decl.
3. Mr. Charlton further claims that, despite his
“crying need to get to the showers/proper medical care,
” each of the named defendants “did nothing . . .
but unnecessarily let [him] suffer great pain and lasting
injury.” Charlton Decl. 3. ...