United States District Court, D. Colorado
The ESTATE OF TIMOTHY SCOTT DIXON, S.A.D., minor child, by and through his guardian and next friend Starla LeRoux, and CODY DIXON, Plaintiffs,
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF CROWLEY COUNTY, CROWLEY COUNTY COLORADO SHERIFFS OFFICE, MILES CLARK, in his individual capacity, MARK MORLOCK, in his individual capacity, JAMES BUTLER, in his individual capacity, and ALACIA JACOBS, in her individual capacity, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Y. WANG, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the court on two related motions:
(1) Defendants Board of County Commissioners of Crowley
County (“County”), Crowley County Sheriff's
Office (“CCSO”), and Mark Morlock's
(collectively, “County Defendants”) Motion and
Brief in Support of Summary Judgment (the “Motion for
Summary Judgment”) [#114,  filed Jan. 19, 2017]; and
(2) Defendants Miles Clark, James Butler, and Alacia
Jacobs' (collectively, “Individual
Defendants”) Motion for Summary Judgment [#116, filed
Jan. 19, 2017].
Motions for Summary Judgment are before the undersigned
Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and the
Order of Reference dated March 11, 2016 [#62]. The court
concludes that oral argument will not materially assist in
the resolution of this matter. Accordingly, after carefully
considering the motions and associated briefing, the entire
case file, the applicable case law, the Motions for Summary
Judgment are GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART for the
reasons set forth below.
court has discussed in detail this action's procedural
history in previous rulings, see, e.g., [#107], and
discusses it here only as it pertains to the pending motions.
On December 16, 2015, The Estate of Timothy Scott Dixon,
S.A.D., a minor child, and Cody N. Dixon (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) filed their initial Complaint in
this matter. [#1]. Then, on March 11, 2016, the court granted
Plaintiffs' First Motion to Amend their Complaint,
see [#63], and Plaintiffs' First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”) became the operative complaint
in this matter. See [#67]. The FAC alleged the
following claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983: (1)
Unlawful Arrest and Seizure against Defendants Clark,
Morlock, and Butler (“Claim I”); (2) Failure to
Provide Medical Care and Treatment against all Defendants
(“Claim II”); (3) Monell Liability
against Defendants County and CCSO (“Claim III”);
(4) Monell Liability for Failure to Train and
Supervise against Defendants County and CCSO (“Claim
IV”); and (5) Supervisory Liability for Failure to
Train and Supervise against Defendants Clark and Morlock
(“Claim V”). [Id.]. In addition, the FAC
alleged two state law claims against all Defendants pursuant
to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-202 for (6) Wrongful Death
by Negligent Supervision (“Claim VI”) and (7)
Wrongful Death by Negligence (“Claim VII”).
April 5, 2016, Defendants Butler, Jacobs, and Clark each
filed their own Motion to Dismiss, seeking dismissal of all
claims against them for failure to state a claim or on
qualified immunity grounds. See [#72; #73; #75].
Then, on April 25, 2016, the County Defendants filed a
Partial Motion to Dismiss Claim I (Unlawful Arrest and
Seizure) for failure to state a claim and because Defendant
Morlock was entitled to qualified immunity. [#84]. The court
held a Motions Hearing and took the four Motions to Dismiss
under advisement. See [#99]. On November 15, 2016,
the court issued an order dismissing without prejudice Claim
I (Unlawful Arrest and Seizure), Claim II (Failure to Provide
Medical Care) as to Defendant Jacobs only, Claim V
(Supervisory Liability - Failure to Train) as to Defendant
Clark only, and Claim VI (Wrongful Death by Negligent
Supervision) as to Defendant Clark only. See [#107].
Thus, the remaining claims are Claim II (Failure to Provide
Medical Care) against Defendants Morlock, Clark, and Butler;
Claim III (Monell liability - Failure to Provide
Medical Care); Claim IV (Monell liability - Failure
to Train/Supervise); Claim V (Supervisory Liability - Failure
to Train) against Defendant Morlock; Claim VI (Wrongful Death
- Negligent Supervision) against the County Defendants and
Defendants Butler and Jacobs; and Claim VII (Wrongful Death -
January 19, 2017, the County Defendants and Individual
Defendants (collectively, “Defendants”) filed
their respective Motions for Summary Judgment. See
[#114; #116]. Plaintiffs filed a joint response [#123], and
Defendants each filed a reply [#131; #132]. On March 7, 2017,
the undersigned held a Final Pretrial Conference at which the
court set the matter for a seven-day jury trial to begin on
September 25, 2017. [#127]. The motions being ripe for
resolution, the court considers the Parties' arguments
Scott Dixon (“Mr. Dixon”) passed away at the age
of forty-four on January 31, 2014, while in the custody of
the CCSO. See [#123 at Statement of Facts
(“SOF”) ¶ 1]. The following facts, leading
up to Mr. Dixon's death, are undisputed unless otherwise
in Nebraska and JR's Country Store and Restaurant
morning of January 31, 2014, Mr. Dixon left his temporary
employment position in Nebraska because he was feeling ill,
and began his drive home to Pueblo, Colorado. [Id.
at SOF ¶¶ 2, 3; #123-10 at 73:17-19; #123-13 at 3,
25-26]. Unbeknownst to him, Mr. Dixon suffered from a serious
medical condition called bacterial pneumonia that affected
his physical and mental functioning. See generally
[id. at SOF ¶¶ 4; #123-14 at ¶ 5].
Because of his illness, Mr. Dixon defecated in his pants,
vomited, and experienced respiratory issues. [#123 at SOF
in Ordway, Colorado, Mr. Dixon stopped for gas at JR's
Country Store and Restaurant (“JR's”).
[Id. at SOF ¶ 6]. Upon entering JR's
premises, Mr. Dixon crashed his car into concrete blocks at
the end of the parking lot and had difficulty pulling up to
the gas pump. [Id. at SOF ¶ 7]. A witness,
Donald Ferritto, observed Mr. Dixon struggling to stand and
pump his gas. [Id.; #114 at Statement of Undisputed
Material Facts (“SOUMF”) ¶ 1]. Because of
this, Mr. Dixon entered JR's convenient store to request
help with pumping his gas; however, while seeking assistance,
Mr. Dixon fell backwards into a food shelf. [#123 at SOF
¶ 7]. Eventually, a JR's employee assisted Mr. Dixon
with pumping his gas. [Id.]. Soon thereafter, Mr.
Ferritto placed an anonymous call to the CCSO to report that
a JR's patron (Mr. Dixon) had crashed his car into
concrete barriers at JR's, had difficulty standing and
pumping his gas, and who had exited JR's traveling east
on County Road G. [Id. at SOF ¶ 8; #114 at
SOUMF ¶ 1; #116 at Statement of Facts
(“SOF”) ¶ 1].
Stop, Field Sobriety Test, and Arrest
Morlock, responding to Mr. Ferritto's report, observed
Mr. Dixon's vehicle travelling at a slow rate of speed on
Road G, and stopped Mr. Dixon's vehicle after Mr. Dixon
had twice drifted off the road. [#114 at SOUMF ¶¶
2-3; #116 at SOF ¶ 2; #123 at SOF ¶ 9]. Upon
approaching Mr. Dixon's vehicle, Defendant Morlock
observed Mr. Dixon smoking a cigarette (that he later
disposed of), asked Mr. Dixon for his driver's
information, and asked Mr. Dixon where he was going. [#114 at
SOUMF ¶¶ 4-5; #116 at SOF ¶ 2; #123 at SOF
¶ 10]. Mr. Dixon responded that he was on his way to
Pueblo (the opposite direction from where Defendant Morlock
stopped him), and that he was sick and had defecated in his
pants. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 2, 6; #116 at SOF
¶¶ 2-3; #123 at SOF ¶ 13]. Defendant Morlock
observed that Mr. Dixon was confused, that his eyes were
watery and bloodshot, that his speech was slurred, that a
“strong smell of alcohol” emanated from Mr.
Dixon's person, and that Mr. Dixon admitted to consuming
beer. [#114 at SOUMF ¶¶ 5-7; #116 at SOF ¶ 4;
#123 at SOF ¶¶ 11-12; #123-12 at 81:19-21].
Plaintiffs dispute that Mr. Dixon admitted to drinking beer,
as his toxicology reports were negative for alcohol.
See [#123 at SOF ¶¶ 12, 22]. Suspecting
Mr. Dixon of driving under the influence, Defendant Morlock
requested that Defendant Butler, certified in Standard Field
Sobriety Training (“SFST”), administer a field
sobriety test. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 9; #116 at SOF ¶ 5;
#123 at SOF ¶ 14].
approximately 3:03 p.m., Defendant Clark arrived at the
scene. [#116 at SOF ¶ 5; #123 at SOF ¶ 14].
Defendant Morlock informed Defendant Clark of his general
observations of Mr. Dixon, and Mr. Dixon informed Defendant
Clark that he was sick and heading home to Pueblo for this
reason. [#116 at SOF ¶¶ 6-7; #123 at SOF ¶
14]. Defendant Clark observed that Mr. Dixon “appeared
like he had the flu or a bad cold. He was congested.”
[#123 at SOF ¶ 14; #123-4 at 51:10-19].
Butler arrived at the scene at approximately 3:16 p.m. [#116
at SOF ¶ 8; #123 at SOF ¶ 16]. Prior to turning
over the investigation to Defendant Butler and leaving the
scene, Defendant Morlock provided Defendant Butler with all
of his observations and relevant information regarding Mr.
Dixon, including that he was sick and had defecated in his
paints- Defendant Butler does not recall having this
conversation. [#114 at SOUMF ¶¶ 9-10; #116 at SOF
¶ 8; #123 at SOF ¶ 17; #123-12 at 90:1-11,
92:11-15, 95:1-7, 101:23-102:3]. Defendant Butler then
administered three field sobriety tests-the horizontal gaze
nystagmus, walk and turn, and one-leg stand; however, Mr.
Dixon was unable to complete any of these tests. [#116 at SOF
¶¶ 9, 11; #123 at SOF ¶ 19]. In fact,
Defendant Butler ceased the walk and turn and one-leg stand
tests for safety reasons, as Mr. Dixon was unstable and, at
one point, Defendants Clark and Butler had to stabilize Mr.
Dixon. [#123 at SOF ¶ 19; #123-3 at 18:5-18, 20:3-8].
Then, Defendant Butler requested that Mr. Dixon submit to a
preliminary breathalyzer test and Mr. Dixon complied;
however, he was also unable to perform this test properly.
[#116 at SOF ¶ 12; #123 at SOF ¶ 19]. At this
point, Defendant Butler allegedly noticed an odor of alcohol
emanating from Mr. Dixon's person, believed Mr. Dixon to
be highly intoxicated, and was allegedly informed by Mr.
Dixon that he had consumed six sixteen-ounce beers that day.
See [#116 at SOF ¶¶ 11-12; #123 at SOF
¶¶ 19, 21, 25; #123-3 at 84:7-9]. Again, Plaintiffs
dispute that Mr. Dixon admitted to consuming alcohol the day
of the traffic stop. [#123 at SOF ¶¶ 21, 22].
Subsequently, Defendant Butler placed Mr. Dixon under arrest
for driving under the influence of alcohol. [#114 at SOUMF
¶ 12; #116 at SOF ¶ 13; #123 at SOF ¶ 20].
of Mr. Dixon's Car and Blood Draw
his arrest, Defendant Clark informed Mr. Dixon of
Colorado's Express Consent law, and Mr. Dixon opted for a
blood draw at Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center
(“AVRMC”). [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 13; #116 at SOF
¶ 19; #123 at SOF ¶ 27]. However, while handcuffed
in the backseat of Defendant Butler's vehicle, Defendant
Clark asked Mr. Dixon if he needed any personal items or
medications from his vehicle. [#116 at SOF ¶ 14]. Mr.
Dixon requested a specific bag from his car, but no
medications; however, Defendant Clark, with Mr. Dixon's
assistance, was unable to locate the bag. See
[id.; #123-4 at 49:4-50:1]. Though not entirely
clear, Defendants Butler and Clark both allege that they
discovered an unopened six-pack of beer in Mr. Dixon's
car. See [#116 at SOF ¶ 15; #123 at ¶ 21];
see also [#116-3 at 61:9- 62:23 (Defendant Clark
testifying that he saw the beer, but “never handled it
at any time.”); #123-3 at 40:8-11, 42:3-5 (Defendant
Butler testifying that Defendant Clark collected the six-pack
of beer, but not recalling what happened after that)].
Plaintiffs dispute that Defendants Clark and Butler found
beer in Mr. Dixon's car, as it was not reported as
inventory until March 2014. [#123 at SOF ¶¶
approximately 3:52 p.m., Defendant Clark left the scene and
went off-duty. [#116 at SOF ¶ 20]. Around this same
time, Defendant Butler transported Mr. Dixon to AVRMC in La
Junta, Colorado for the sole purpose of conducting a blood
draw to test Mr. Dixon's blood for alcohol and controlled
substances-the two arrived at AVRMC at approximately 4:19
p.m. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 15; #116 at SOF ¶ 19; #123 at
SOF ¶¶ 12, 27]. It is undisputed that at some point
during the drive to AVRMC, Mr. Dixon asked Defendant Butler
to roll down the back window, because Mr. Dixon stated that
he was “burning up.” [#116 at SOF ¶ 21; #123
at SOF ¶ 27]. However, the Parties dispute whether Mr.
Dixon's overheating was the result of his attire (coat,
boots, and hat) or his illness. Compare [#116 at SOF
¶¶ 21-22] with [#123 at ¶ 27]. A
phlebotomist completed Mr. Dixon's blood draw at
approximately 4:49 p.m. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 15; #116 at SOF
¶ 23; #123 at SOF ¶ 29]. At no time between the
traffic stop and the completion of the blood draw did Mr.
Dixon request medical attention, nor did Defendants Morlock,
Clark, or Butler seek medical evaluation of Mr. Dixon. [#114
at SOUMF ¶ 16; #116 at SOF ¶ 23; #123 at SOF ¶
the blood draw, Defendant Butler transported Mr. Dixon to the
Crowley County Jail (the “jail”) for booking.
[#114 at SOUMF ¶ 17; #116 at SOF ¶ 25; #123 at SOF
¶ 29]. Prior to their arrival, Defendant Jacobs (a
relatively new employee) began her shift as one of two jail
dispatchers/booking deputies on duty the evening of January
31, 2014. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 18; #116 at SOF ¶ 24;
#123 at SOF ¶ 30]. Defendant Jacobs' supervisor,
Richelle Atchison, informed Defendant Jacobs that she would
need to book an adult male who Defendant Butler arrested for
driving under the influence and who was being transported
from the AVRMC. [#116 at SOF ¶ 24; #123 at SOF ¶
30]. Both Defendant Jacobs and Ms. Atchison believed that Mr.
Dixon was being medically cleared prior to his booking. [#116
at SOF ¶ 24; #123 at SOF ¶ 30].
5:19 p.m.,  Defendant Jacobs received a phone call
from Defendant Morlock wherein Defendant Morlock advised
Defendant Jacobs that Mr. Dixon needed to be “locked
down, ” i.e., isolated from other inmates or
jail staff, because he possibly had “bronchitis or
pneumonia.” [#114 at SOUMF ¶¶ 25-26; #116 at
SOF ¶ 34; #123 at SOF ¶ 31]. Defendant Morlock then
consulted with Defendant Clark regarding Mr. Dixon's
isolation, and Defendant Clark decided that Mr. Dixon did not
need to be “locked down” but, rather, Mr. Dixon
should be placed in a single-cell to limit exposure to other
inmates. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 29; #116 at SOF ¶ 35;
#123 at SOF ¶ 31; #123-4 at 79:15-80:20 (Defendant Clark
testifying that he wanted to limit Mr. Dixon's exposure
to other inmates because he knew Mr. Dixon was “ill and
wasn't feeling good, ” but stating he would not
take such measures if an inmate had “a common
cold”)]. Defendant Morlock then informed Defendant
Jacobs of Defendant Clark's directive, and Defendant
Jacobs and Ms. Atchison assigned Mr. Dixon to Cell 3 because
it had video surveillance. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 30; #116 at
SOF ¶¶ 34, 36; #123 at SOF ¶ 31; #123-1 at
43:11- 18 (Ms. Atchison testifying that, because Defendant
Morlock stated that Mr. Dixon was sick, they thought,
‘Maybe we need to keep an eye on him.'”)].
5:29 p.m., Defendant Butler and Mr. Dixon arrived at the
jail. [#116 at SOF ¶ 25; #123 at SOF ¶ 32]. At some
point, Defendant Butler allegedly asked Mr. Dixon if he
needed medical assistance to which Mr. Dixon responded
“no.” [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 20; #114-5 at
186:20-187:20; #116 at SOF ¶ 31]. However, prior to
formal booking procedures, Defendant Butler instructed Mr.
Dixon to take a shower given that he had defecated in his
pants. [#116 at SOF ¶ 25; #123 at SOF ¶ 32]. Deputy
Jon Miller and Defendant Butler assisted Mr. Dixon with
showering. [#116 at SOF ¶ 26; #123 at SOF ¶ 32].
Based on his interaction with Mr. Dixon, Deputy Miller
believed that Mr. Dixon had “crackling lungs, ”
commonly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (“COPD”) or pneumonia. [#114 at SOF
¶ 26; #116 at SOF ¶ 26; #123 at SOF ¶ 34].
Deputy Miller asked Mr. Dixon if he had either, and Mr. Dixon
responded that he did not know and was on his way to see a
doctor at the time Defendant Morlock stopped him. [#123 at
SOF ¶ 34]. Deputy Miller did not smell alcohol on Mr.
Dixon's person. [Id.]. Deputy Miller allegedly
informed both Defendants Morlock and Butler of his
observations and Mr. Dixon's answer; however, Defendant
Butler testified that, while in the same room, he did not
hear the conversation between Deputy Miller and Defendant
Morlock. [#116 at SOF ¶¶ 26, 28; #123 at SOF ¶
34]. Deputy Miller asked Defendant Morlock whether Mr. Dixon
needed to be taken to the hospital, and Defendant Morlock
responded that Mr. Dixon had already received a blood draw at
AVRMC and if Mr. Dixon was not requesting medical attention,
they should proceed with his booking. [#114 at SOUMF
¶¶ 27-28; #116 at SOF ¶ 26; #123 at SOF ¶
his shower, Defendant Butler noticed that Mr. Dixon was
“breathing like he had saliva in his throat and his
throat needed to be cleared.” [#116 at SOF ¶ 30;
#123 at SOF ¶ 35; #123-13 at 29]. Defendant Butler then
asked Mr. Dixon if he “always breathed like that,
” to which Mr. Dixon responded, “No, it just
started a couple of weeks ago.” [#123 at SOF ¶ 35;
#123-13 at 29].
approximately 6:48 p.m., Defendant Jacobs booked Mr. Dixon
into the jail. [#123 at SOF ¶ 36]. Pursuant to jail
policies, Defendant Jacobs was required to (1) ask Mr. Dixon
several screening questions, including whether Mr. Dixon
needed medical assistance, and (2) determine independently
whether Mr. Dixon needed medical evaluation due to being
injured, ill, not fully conscious, or highly intoxicated.
[#114 at SOUMF ¶¶ 21-22, 24; #116 at SOF
¶¶ 32-33; #123 at SOF ¶ 36]. It is undisputed
that Defendant Jacobs determined that Mr. Dixon did not need
medical evaluation. [#116 at SOF ¶ 24; #123 at SOF
¶ 30]. However, Defendant Jacobs did observe Mr. Dixon
clearing his throat on several occasions during the booking
process and Ms. Atchison observed Mr. Dixon coughing during
the booking process, but neither detected an odor of alcohol
on Mr. Dixon's person. [#123 at SOF ¶ 36].
also assert that Defendant Jacobs followed jail policy by
asking Mr. Dixon whether he required medical assistance, to
which Mr. Dixon stated that he did not. However, Plaintiffs
contend that jail policy required Defendant Jacobs to
document Mr. Dixon's answers to several screening
questions, but that no completed screening forms were
included in his booking file; thus, it is uncertain whether
Defendant Jacobs followed jail protocol. Compare
[#114 at SOUMF ¶¶ 21-22; #116 at SOF ¶¶
32-33] with [#123 at SOF ¶¶ 36, 40-45]. It
is undisputed, however, that even if Mr. Dixon denied the
need for medical assistance, he never signed the required
medical waiver form. [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 24; #123 at SOF
¶ 42]. Plaintiffs also argue that at no point was Mr.
Dixon offered a phone call, another violation of jail policy.
[#123 at SOF ¶ 37].
Events and Mr. Dixon's Passing
mentioned, Defendants assigned Mr. Dixon to a single-cell
with video surveillance (Cell 3) following his booking. [#114
at SOUMF ¶ 34; #116 at SOF ¶ 37; #123 at SOF ¶
38]. Mr. Dixon had access to the common room and interacted
with two other detainees at the jail. [#114 at SOUMF ¶
37; #116 at SOF ¶ 37; #123 at SOF ¶ 46]. These
detainees indicated that Mr. Dixon had the “shakes real
bad, ” but they did not believe him to be drunk. [#123
at SOF ¶ 46].
soon after, Mr. Dixon went into his cell to lie down. [#114
at SOUMF ¶ 39]. Then, at approximately 9:06 p.m., after
observing Mr. Dixon “thrashing around on his bed trying
to ‘catch air, ' hitting his head, and kicking his
legs, ” a detainee “buzzed” Ms. Atchison
and informed her that Mr. Dixon was not breathing well and
“was turning purple.” [#114 at SOUMF ¶ 41;
#116 at SOF ¶ 39; #123 at SOF ¶¶ 46-47].
Deputy Jon Hernandez responded to Mr. Dixon's cell, found
him unconscious and struggling to breathe, and directed Ms.
Atchison to call for medical assistance. [#114 at SOUMF
¶¶ 42-43; #116 at SOF ¶ 40; #123 ...