United States District Court, D. Colorado
SHERROL HALL, PERSONALLY, AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE ESTATE OF TERRENCE JOSEPH EDWARD HUNT, AND ON BEHALF OF THE WRONGFUL DEATH BENEFICIARIES FOR TERRENCE JOSEPH EDWARD HUNT, Plaintiffs,
JASON LENGERICH, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, ROBERT TUCKER, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, DANA JOHNSON, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, RENEE JORDAN, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, PATSY HARTLEY, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, JOHN HENDRYX, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, SANDY JONES, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, KERRI BARONI, IN HER INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, Defendants.
ORDER FOR DISMISSAL OF THIRD, FOURTH AND FIFTH CLAIMS
FOR RELIEF WITH PREJUDICE AND FIRST, SECOND AND SIXTH CLAIMS
Richard P. Matsch, Senior Judge
amended complaint (Doc. 10), filed October 13, 2017, by
Sherrol Hall, individually and as personal representative of
the Estate of Terrence Hunt, alleges six claims for relief
arising from the suicide of her son, Terrence Joseph Edward
Hunt (Terrence or Terry Hunt) on June 20, 2015, while he was
an inmate in the Buena Vista Correctional Facility (BVCF), an
institution of the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC).
The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Claims for Relief seek damages
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for alleged violations of
the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States
Constitution with jurisdiction provided by 28 U.S.C. §
§ 1331 and 1343. The First, Second and Sixth Claims are
based on Colorado law for which supplemental jurisdiction is
requested pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) and defendant Sandy Jones also moved for summary
judgment of dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.
response in opposition and brief in support of it were filed
on January 30, 2018. (Doc. 30 and 31).
core of the factual allegations is that on June 11, 2015,
Terrence Hunt wrote a letter to his mother which she received
on June 15, 2015. Sherrol Hall perceived the letter as
expressing an intent to either kill himself or seriously hurt
or kill a corrections officer. Accordingly, on June 16 she
called several times to the BVCF to alert someone about the
contents of the letter. After attempting to reach the case
manager she was transferred to Mental Health and stressed to
the person answering the phone that she needed to hear from
Hall filed an affidavit in which she included the following:
At 4:00 p.m. on June 16, 2015, I was driving home from work,
when Sandy Jones in Mental Health called me back. She told me
that it took her so long to get back to me because TJ
hadn't been in his unit all day. She said that he was in
the yard doing what he does. She then told me that he was
fine and that he certainly wasn't acting like anything
was going on. She claimed that he only sent a request to
Mental Health to try to get moved out of Buena Vista. I
stressed to her repeatedly that I didn't trust
that reason. His letter to me was very painful and explicit
and I truly believed he would hurt himself. I explained to
her what TJ said in the letter. I begged her not to
leave him alone. She assured me that he was fine.
Jones submitted a declaration (Exhibit C) saying that she
spoke with Ms. Hall who told her that Terrence Hunt had
written a letter claiming to be suicidal and Jones assured
her that she would contact him and evaluate him. Ms. Jones
further declared that she did talk to Terry Hunt who denied
being suicidal and explained that he wrote the letter because
he was upset because he was unable to see his grandmother who
could not travel to BVCF. Jones said Hunt denied a need for
medications or mental health assistance. Jones said she then
called Ms. Hall and reassured her that her son did not seem
the defendants filed declarations denying that they had seen
Terry Hunt's letter.
plaintiff has requested discovery to challenge these
declarations. Ms. Jones filed a clinical note documenting her
contact with Terry Hunt on June 16, 2015 (Ex. B).
plaintiff has claimed that the defendants violated
established DOC policy in Administrative Regulations attached
to the Amended Complaint which, if followed, would have
prevented this suicide.
liability for a violation of the constitutional protections
of Terrence Hunt depends upon a showing that the defendant
personally participated in the unlawful conduct or omission
and that the defendant should have been aware that he or she
was acting contrary to clearly established law. Qualified
immunity protects a government actor in the absence of such
the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments Terence Hunt was
entitled to mental health treatment if there was a showing of
a substantial risk of suicide. If an official having
responsibility to provide that treatment is aware of that
risk and is deliberately indifferent to it, and that is a
cause of the death, there would be liability in damages.
indifference to a substantial risk of suicide has both
objective and subjective components. Calahan v.
Poppell,471 F.3d 1155, 1159 (10th Cir.
2006). Death clearly satisfies the objective component.