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Duvall v Dallas County Texas

Case No. 09-10660 (C.A. 5, Jan. 13, 2011)

Plaintiff-Appellee Mark Duvall brought this action against Defendant- Appellant Dallas County (“the County”) for personal injuries stemming from an infection that he contracted while incarcerated in the County’s jail (“the Jail”). At the conclusion of a jury trial, Duvall prevailed, and the County appealed. We affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS


Duvall was a pre-trial detainee in the Jail from December 11 to December 26, 2003. During his stay in the prison, Duvall contracted Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (“MRSA”), a staph infection resistant to usual penicillintype antibiotics. Duvall’s physical suffering was great, and he eventually lost the use of one of his eyes. In his § 1983 complaint, Duvall claimed that the County had deprived him of his right to due process by subjecting him to an unconstitutional condition of confinement. After the jury found for Duvall, the County timely filed a notice of appeal. The County contends that (1) the district court’s jury instructions and its denial of the motion for judgment as a matter of law were erroneous because the district court relied on the wrong standard, (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that Duvall suffered a constitutional violation from his “condition of confinement,” and (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury’s finding that the County had, with deliberate indifference, maintained a pattern or practice that was the moving force behind the constitutional violation that Duvall suffered. Duvall filed a protective cross appeal in which he asserts that a Monell inquiry is not required in a “conditions of confinement” case. We affirm.

II. ANALYSIS
A. STANDARD OF REVIEW


We review jury instructions for abuse of discretion. We review the sufficiency of the evidence de novo and will overturn the jury verdict only if “there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for [Duvall].” We review the record and all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party.
B. DUE PROCESS VIOLATION
DUE PROCESS VIOLATION
Duvall advanced a “conditions of confinement” claim under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Because a state may not punish a pretrial detainee, conditions of confinement for such an inmate that amount to “punishment” violate the Constitution. In Bell v. Wolfish, the Supreme Court stated that “[i]f a particular condition or restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to punishment.” We addressed this issue, en banc, in Hare v. City of Corinth, making clear that a plaintiff must show deliberate indifference on the part of the municipality only in a case in which the constitutional violation resulted from an episodic act or omission of a state actor. In cases like Duvall’s, that are grounded in unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the plaintiff need only show that such a condition, which is alleged to be the cause of a constitutional violation, has no reasonable relationship to a legitimate governmental interest. In a conditions of confinement claim, “an avowed or presumed intent by the State or its jail officials exists in the form of the challenged condition, practice, rule, or restriction.” As this court recognized while sitting en banc, “the reasonable-relationship test employed in conditions cases is functionally equivalent to the deliberate indifference standard employed in episodic cases.”
 

 

Judge(s): Per Curiam
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
Related Categories: Civil Rights
 
Circuit Court Judge(s)
Eugene Davis
James Dennis
Jacques Wiener, Jr.

 
Trial Court Judge(s)
Sam Lindsay

 
Appellant Lawyer(s) Appellant Law Firm(s)
Edward Moore, Jr. Law Offices of Edward H. Moore PC

 
Appellee Lawyer(s) Appellee Law Firm(s)
Dolena Westergard Office of the Dallas District Attorney

 

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the plaintiff to make a showing of deliberate indifference under monell, presumably because regime. duvall's initial and substantial burden was to establish an infection that he contracted while incarcerated in the county's jail ("the jail"). with deliberate indifference, maintained a pattern or practice that was the it is unnecessary in "conditions of confinement" cases. that dallas county, through its commissioners or sheriff bowls, made a the district court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury on the in some cases, a condition may reflect an unstated or de facto policy, constitutional violation. liability: disinfecting stations and had failed to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which show a violation under the episodic-acts line of cases, the plaintiff must show to prevail on his underlying constitutional claim, duvall had to prove (1) f i l e d there had been serious outbreaks of mrsa in the jail for at least three years conditions of confinement claim, "an avowed or presumed intent by the state or extended or pervasive"; (2) which was not reasonably related to a legitimate11 plaintiff-appellee mark duvall brought this action against defendant- no. 09-10660 extensive and extended, and that they were much more than de minimis. jury's verdict, therefore, the jury found a policy or custom that was adopted by 6 shepherd v. dallas county, 591 f.3d 445, 452 (5th cir. 2009), quoting hare, 74 f.3d13 3 furthermore, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find the county relies on its promotion of hand washing, which is one means universally confinement conditions, since any densely populated residence sufficient evidence to determine the issues as it did. we, therefore, affirm the at 645. are the recommended means of hand disinfection, especially in a jail setting inadequately controlled staph contamination. testimony was presented that it minimis violation. the de minimis exception provides a significant threshold to bradshaw v. freightliner corp., 937 f.2d 197, 200 (5th cir. 1991) (emphasis added).17 dallas county texas the district court submitted duvall's monell claim for municipal liability ii. analysis basis for imposing 1983 liability on the county for the underlying due process regardless, duvall had to show that the condition was more than a de plaintiff-appellee cross-appellant constitutional rights. scott v. moore, 114 f.3d 51, 54 (5th cir. 1997) (en banc) (internal quotation marks10 duvall was a pre-trial detainee in the jail from december 11 to december employee who committed the acts or omissions; to show a violation under the of law were erroneous because the district court relied on the wrong standard, 74 f.3d 633 (5th cir. 1996) (en banc).7 before davis, wiener, and dennis, circuit judges. the county's awareness of the situation preceded duvall's confinement, and that these showings. "we review jury instructions with deference and will only challenging jail conditions must demonstrate a pervasive the county also argues that the evidence was insufficient to establish a in the united states court of appeals v. jury to find a custom or practice. defendant-appellant cross-appellee on municipal liability under the monell test, the jury's finding satisfies the need 8 or infection, standing alone, imply unconstitutional deliberations." we perceive no abuse of discretion, and we are convinced that17 hare, 74 f.3d at 645.11 process clause of the fourteenth amendment of the united states constitution. contains sufficient evidence to support the jury's findings. bulldozer v. holmes, 162 f.3d 368, 377 (5th cir. 1998).15 for such a showing in connection with the underlying constitutional violation as with objective deliberate indifference. the jury charge given in this case did20 posed a significant risk of serious disease to the inmates like duvall. this and indifference, the charge stated that "[d]eliberate indifference in this case means inmates in those conditions. properly found that the county did, indeed, act with deliberate indifference.19 its jail officials exists in the form of the challenged condition, practice, rule, or the few measures that the jail did take in an attempt to control the rate of no. 09-10660 not delineate between objective and subjective deliberate indifference. however, the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's finding that the county had, either an official policy or an unofficial custom, adopted by the municipality, that indifference to its known or obvious consequences." in defining deliberate the jury's finding of a custom or policy under the municipal-liability jury dreiling v. gen. elec. co., 511 f.2d 768, 774 (5th cir. 1975).1 no. 09-10660 jury instructions, the plaintiff must show an intended condition or practice, or it would be reasonable to conclude that the infection rate in the jail was ten to by the county, liability from this stipulation does not create a strict liability pattern of serious deficiencies in providing for his basic jail practices, its intent to do so is nevertheless presumed when it incarcerates high rate of mrsa infections before and during his stay. an intended condition or practice." we see no meaningful difference between16 iii. conclusion moving force behind the constitutional violation that duvall suffered. duvall id. at 539.6 dispute whether a satisfactory showing under monell requires a showing of for the northern district of texas dallas county with deliberate indifference. thus, even if a finding of deliberate governmental objective; and (3) which caused the violation of duvall's no. 09-10660 case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 2 date filed: 01/13/2011 shepherd, 591 f.3d at 454.14 "[t]he policy or custom must have been adopted or maintained with deliberate may be subject to outbreaks. . . . rather, a detainee the county insists that duvall's is not a traditional "conditions of the underlying constitutional violation and the monell showing are different: to eradicate mrsa were all known to jails in 2003. dallas county was aware of appellant dallas county ("the county") for personal injuries stemming from an 26, 2003. during his stay in the prison, duvall contracted methicillin-resistant for the fifth circuit fifth circuit practice . . . [or] that the jail official's acts or omissions were sufficiently such a condition, which is alleged to be the cause of a constitutional violation, 7 before duvall's arrival. staphylococcus aureus ("mrsa"), a staph infection resistant to usual penicillin- dallas county jail between december 11-23, 2003." contrary to the assertions course, as far as it goes, but the law is well settled that "even where a state may evidence that the jail had refused to install the necessary hand washing and because a state may not punish a pretrial detainee, conditions of confinement the county stipulated to the fact that "no legitimate governmental governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to punishment." we6 ineradicable doubt whether the jury has been properly guided in its id. at 644.12 jury heard evidence that duvall exhibited no symptoms when he arrived, that favorable to the prevailing party.4 municipal-liability "custom or policy" line of cases, the plaintiff must show that c. municipal liability misconduct by [jail] officials, to prove an intended condition or b. due process violation [i]solated examples of illness, injury, or even death, standing jail. the jury heard evidence that the jail experienced around 200 infections relationship test employed in conditions cases is functionally equivalent to the was the moving force behind the claimed constitutional violation. the parties18 that the county knew of the conditions complained of, yet continued to house was feasible to control the outbreak through tracking, isolation, and improved appeal from the united states district court one or two cases per month, resulting in an infection rate of one or two percent. case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 4 date filed: 01/13/2011 hare, 74 f.3d at 645.16 we review jury instructions for abuse of discretion. we review the1 unconstitutional conditions of confinement, the plaintiff need only show that to the jury. the court, in the charge on monell liability, instructed the jury that addressed this issue, en banc, in hare v. city of corinth, making clear that a7 that they were not aware of a jail with a higher percentage of mrsa than the "there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 3 date filed: 01/13/2011 the county, is not plainly erroneous. in addition, as outlined above, the record court's jury instructions and its denial of the motion for judgment as a matter instruction satisfies the custom-or-policy element for purposes of the underlying show that jail officials' acts are "sufficiently extended or pervasive . . . to prove confinement" case because the county's policymaker, the sheriff, did not where much contact occurs in the cell block. both county officials and outside he started showing symptoms while he was in the jail, and that the jail had a 2 county timely filed a notice of appeal. the county contends that (1) the district purpose was served by the allowance of the mrsa infection to be present in the case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 1 date filed: 01/13/2011 case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 7 date filed: 01/13/2011 thomas, 220 f.3d at 392.4 alone, cannot prove that conditions of confinement are the high mrsa infection risks in the jail before 2003, and the sheriff knew that promulgate a rule that brought the bacteria into the jail. this is correct, of standard for duvall's "conditions of confinement" claim, and the jury heard i. facts and proceedings as evidenced by a pattern of acts or omissions "sufficiently extended no. 09-10660 constitutionally inadequate. nor can the incidence of diseases per month. indeed, record evidence demonstrates that the infection rate of restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate not want to subject a detainee to inhumane conditions of confinement or abusive case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 8 date filed: 01/13/2011 subjective deliberate indifference on the part of the particular municipal duvall advanced a "conditions of confinement" claim under the due 9 physicians testified that there was a "bizarrely high incidence of mrsa" and affirm. or pervasive, or otherwise typical of extended or pervasive per curiam: "a rule or restriction or . . . the existence of an identifiable intended condition or mrsa in the jail was close to 20 percent, and that most jails in 2003 would have type antibiotics. duvall's physical suffering was great, and he eventually lost thomas v. tex. dep't of criminal justice, 220 f.3d 389, 392 (5th cir. 2000).2 hygiene practices, but that the county was not willing to take the necessary id.9 (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's finding that duvall as discussed in more detail below, the record here contains a surfeit of evidence clerk deliberate indifference. we need not answer this question, because the jury human needs.14 fed. r. civ. p. 50(a).3 a. standard of review we are aware, of course, that the standards of deliberate indifference for other record evidence is a legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable for such an inmate that amount to "punishment" violate the constitution. in and widespread customs. under hare, and consistent with the district court's15 5 the use of one of his eyes. in his 1983 complaint, duvall claimed that the control the infection. in addition, the jury heard evidence that the infection evidence that the sheriff and other jail officials had long known of the extensive bell v. wolfish, the supreme court stated that "[i]f a particular condition or5 the violation resulted from a custom or policy maintained by the municipality twenty times higher than in comparable jails. the record also establishes that filed a protective cross appeal in which he asserts that a monell inquiry is not required in a "conditions of confinement" case. we affirm. the jury found that duvall's injury was caused by a policy or custom of the the county did not ask for a delineation in the charge or object to the charge on rights to medical care, or to disregard the presence of msra." based on the experts stated that the county failed to take the well-known steps needed to [duvall]." we review the record and all of the evidence in the light most3 mrsa problem yet had continued to house inmates in the face of the the evidence here was amply sufficient to prove that the violations were serious, united states court of appeals restriction." as this court recognized while sitting en banc, "the reasonable-9 in a case in which the constitutional violation resulted from an episodic act or steps or spend the money to do so. the measures necessary to control and this basis. the charge, requiring a conscious or deliberate choice on the part of unconstitutional condition of confinement. at the conclusion of a jury trial, duvall prevailed, and the county appealed. we mark duvall reverse judgment when the charge as a whole leaves us with substantial and monell v. dep't of soc. serv. of city of new york, 436 u.s. 658, 694 (1978).18 the jail. the evidence was more than sufficient for the jury to so conclude. the indifference were an essential predicate for imposition of the county's liability 4 suffered a constitutional violation from his "condition of confinement," and (3) no. 09-10660 violation. for a municipality to be liable, the plaintiff must show that there was identified to help reduce the spread of mrsa infection. however, the jury heard conscious or deliberate choice to disregard pretrial detainees' constitutional unconstitutional condition of confinement. after the jury found for duvall, the no. 09-10660 see brumfield v. hollins, 551 f.3d 322, 331 (5th cir. 2008).20 the jury made that finding in this case. case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 5 date filed: 01/13/2011 and citations omitted). case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 9 date filed: 01/13/2011 has no reasonable relationship to a legitimate governmental interest. in a no. 09-10660 omission of a state actor. in cases like duvall's, that are grounded in8 county had deprived him of his right to due process by subjecting him to an practice."13 deliberate indifference standard employed in episodic cases."10 plaintiff must show deliberate indifference on the part of the municipality only in shepherd, a recent appeal involving "conditions of confinement," we did not require19 affirmed. case: 09-10660 document: 00511351087 page: 6 date filed: 01/13/2011 judgment entered on the verdict in this fully tried case. existence of such a custom or policy for the times in question here. it heard january 13, 2011 lyle w. cayce county. although the jury found this fact in response to the court's instruction the detainee in the face of such known conditions and practices."12 manuals for sanitation and health care did not even mention mrsa. the 441 u.s. 520 (1979).5 well. under monell, a plaintiff must show either an official policy or persistent see id. at 644.8 no. 09-10660 finally, the jury explicitly found that duvall contracted mrsa while in infection had been ineffective. in the face of the situation, the jail's policy sufficiency of the evidence de novo and will overturn the jury verdict only if2


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