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Bassett v. Klinkler

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 27, 2014

STEVEN WAYNE BASSETT, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL KLINKLER, JASON LOMBARD, and CDOC EMPLOYEE WHO SPOKE TO PARAMEDICS, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS LOMBARD AND KLINKLER'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Docket No. 46)

MICHAEL J. WATANABE, Magistrate Judge.

Stephen Bassett was among a number of inmates involved in a car accident while being transported by prison staff. Defendant Michael Klinkler, a guard, was driving the vehicle. Defendant Jason Lombard, another guard, was riding shotgun. An unidentified defendant, a Colorado Department of Corrections ("CDOC") employee, declined to let paramedics take Bassett to a private hospital. Bassett sustained injuries, which he attributes to the "flagrant and callous disregard" shown by Defendants by transporting him in "an unsafe vehicle without seatbelts" and by driving "in an unsafe manner in violation of traffic laws." He sues under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging a violation of the Eight Amendment, as well as under Colorado tort law. Defendants have moved to dismiss under Rules 12(b)(1) and (b)(6). Acting by consent under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the Court GRANTS the motion to dismiss in full.

Factual Allegations

As alleged by Bassett (Docket No. 53, p.4), the accident occurred on December 17, 2012. Bassett was "shackled and chained" and thus "wholly dependent upon the Defendants" for his safety. While driving through Colorado Springs, Klinkler "drove recklessly, following another vehicle too closely in violation of C.D.O.C. policy and state law." Lombard "rode shotgun-aware of this reckless driving" but doing "nothing to prevent it or suggest a safe legal manner." "When the vehicle in front of the transport had to make an emergency stop, the transport slammed into it." Bassett "slammed into the cage he was in, suffering a laceration to his face."

The incident caused head and neck pain, which Bassett "reported to the CDOC medical staff upon arrival." Ever since, Bassett "has had limited pain free mobility of his neck, and continual persistent headaches. He has had recurring nightmares about the crash, disrupting his sleep." He has suffered from "panic attacks, flashbacks, and extreme anxiety" during other transports.

"In the immediate aftermath of the crash, " a paramedic told Defendants to take the inmates to Memorial Hospital for "treatment and screening." Defendants did not do so. Further, the unnamed Defendant "signed waivers of refusal on behalf of [Bassett] without even asking [Bassett] if he refused, which he would not have if asked." The prison has yet to diagnose Bassett and inform him of the full extent of his injuries.

Bassett presses his claim against Defendants in their individual and official capacities. He asks for compensatory and nominal damages, as well as declaratory or injunctive relief compelling CDOC to install seatbelts in their transport vehicles.

Discussion

Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must accept the facts alleged by Bassett as true; further, if inferences must be drawn, the Court must draw them in Bassett's favor. Gee v. Pacheco, 627 F.3d 1178, 1183 (10th Cir. 2010). Only factual allegations are to be accepted as true; allegations of legal conclusions-for example, that conduct was "unreasonable, " "negligent, " "willful and wanton, " and the like-are not included in the Court's analysis. Kansas Penn Gaming, LLC v. Collins, 656 F.3d 1210, 1214 (10th Cir. 2011). Generally speaking, only the Complaint is to be considered; facts and documents that the parties have brought forward while briefing the motion to dismiss usually have no bearing on the motion. See Archuleta v. Wagner, 523 F.3d 1278, 1281 (10th Cir. 2008).

Once the set of operative facts is established according to the foregoing rules, the Court must decide whether those facts adequately state grounds for relief. It is not necessary for Bassett to allege a prima facie case including every last element of his legal claims-but he must put forward enough facts for the Court to infer that his claims are at least plausible. Khalik v. United Air Lines, 761 F.3d 1188, 1191-92 (10th Cir. 2012).

Defendants argue that:

• Claims for money damages against Defendants in their official capacities are barred by the Eleventh Amendment;
• Claims for punitive damages are not plausibly alleged;
• Claims against Defendant Lombard fail for lack of ...

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