United States District Court, D. Colorado
THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL SCOT MANUEL, Deceased, by and through Julie Christine Skaggs-Manuel, Personal Representative, and JULIE CHRISTINE SKAGGS-MANUEL, individually, Plaintiffs,
HEATHER GISH, individually and in her capacity as a Deputy for the Grand County Sheriff's Department, MARLAN ANDERSON, individually and in his capacity as a Deputy for the Grand County Sheriff's Department, SUSAN JAMES, individually and in her capacity as a Deputy for the Grand County Sheriff's Department, JACOB FISHER, individually and in his capacity as a Corporal for the Grand County Sheriff's Department, and KYNDRA GORE, individually and in her capacity as a Lieutenant for the Grand County Sheriff's Department, Defendants.
ORDER RE: GRAND COUNTY DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR
E. Blackburn United States District Judge.
matter before me is the Grand County Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment and Brief In
Support of Same [#79],  filed June 15. 2018. I grant
the motion in part and deny it without prejudice in part,
dismiss plaintiffs' federal constitutional claims, and
decline supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.
jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 (federal question) and 1367 (supplemental
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper when there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91
L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). A dispute is “genuine” if the
issue could be resolved in favor of either party.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Farthing v. City of Shawnee, 39
F.3d 1131, 1135 (10th Cir. 1994). A fact is
“material” if it might reasonably affect the
outcome of the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Farthing, 39 F.3d at 1134.
who does not have the burden of proof at trial must show the
absence of a genuine fact issue. Concrete Works, Inc. v.
City & County of Denver, 36 F.3d 1513, 1517
(10th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct.
1315 (1995). Once the motion has been properly supported, the
burden shifts to the nonmovant to show, by tendering
depositions, affidavits, and other competent evidence, that
summary judgment is not proper. Id. at 1518. All the
evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the
party opposing the motion. Simms v. Oklahoma ex rel.
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Services, 165 F.3d 1321, 1326 (10th Cir.),
cert. denied, 120 S.Ct. 53 (1999).
facts of this matter are well-known to the parties and need
not be discussed in detail. In precis, Michael Scot
Manuel, while being detained in the Grand County Jail and
under suicide watch, hung himself with a metal cord which was
attached to a communication kiosk in his cell. On behalf of
the estate and on her own behalf, Mr. Manuel's wife,
plaintiff Julie Skaggs-Manuel, has sued defendants, all
members of the Grand County Sheriff's department, for
alleged deliberate indifference to Mr. Manuel's
Fourteenth Amendment right to adequate medical care while in
custody. She also has asserted a claims of negligence and
wrongful death under Colorado law. Defendants now move for
summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity from the
federal constitutional claims and government immunity from
the state law claims under the Colorado Governmental Immunity
Act (“CGIA”), § 24-10-118(2), C.R.S.
federal law, a state official is immune from civil liability
unless her actions violate “clearly established
statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable
person would have known.” Harlow v.
Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 818, 102 S.Ct. 2727, 2738, 73
L.Ed.2d 396 (1982); see also Herring v. Keenan, 218
F.3d 1171, 1175 (10thCir. 2000), cert.
denied, 122 S.Ct. 96 (2001). To overcome this immunity,
plaintiffs must establish both that defendants violated Mr.
Manuel's rights under federal law and that such rights
were clearly established at the time of the violation.
Greene v. Barrett, 174 F.3d 1136, 1142
(10th Cir. 1999). A reviewing court may
“exercise [its] sound discretion in deciding which of
the two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be
addressed first in light of the circumstances in the
particular case at hand.” Pearson v. Callahan,
555 U.S. 223, 236, 129 S.Ct. 808, 818, 172 L.Ed.2d 565
(2009). See also Herrera v. City of
Albuquerque, 589 F.3d 1064, 1070 (10th Cir.
2009). Here, I find and conclude that, under either prong of
this test, defendants are entitled to qualified immunity as
to the federal constitutional claims.
the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause, pretrial
detainees are entitled to the same degree of protection
against denial of medical care as that afforded to convicted
inmates under the Eighth Amendment.” Barrie v.
Grand County, Utah, 119 F.3d 862, 868 (10th
Cir. 1997). Claims that jail officials failed to take
adequate steps to prevent a detainee's suicide are
considered a denial of that right. Id. at 866. To
state a violation of their constitutional rights, therefore,
plaintiffs must establish that defendants were deliberately
indifferent to a substantial risk that Mr. Manuel would
commit suicide. Id. at 868-69.
satisfy the subjective component of this claim,
plaintiff must demonstrate each defendant knew of and
disregarded an excessive risk that Mr. Manuel would commit
suicide. See Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
837-38, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 1979, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994);
Barrie, 119 F.3d at 869. This standard is equivalent
to “criminal recklessness, which makes a person liable
when she consciously disregards a substantial risk of
harm.” Beauclair v. Graves, 227 Fed.Appx. 773,
776 (10th Cir. May 22, 2007) (quoting Mata v.
Saiz, 427 F.3d 745, 752 (10th Cir. 2005)).
Stated differently, a plaintiff will satisfy this element
only where she shows a defendant both was “aware of
facts from which the inference could be drawn that a
substantial risk of serious harm exists, and . . . also
dr[e]w the inference.” Farmer, 114 S.Ct.
plain defendants did much to attempt to identify and mitigate
the potential risk that Mr. Manuel might commit suicide: they
undertook a suicide screening, placed Mr. Manuel on suicide
watch, required him to wear a suicide smock, placed him in a
room near the booking area which permitted quicker and more
frequent access, and checked on him frequently. Plaintiffs,
with the benefit of hindsight, identify a number of
different, allegedly more reasonable, actions which could
have been undertaken to better ensure Mr. Manuel's
however, is not the standard. “[I]it is not enough for
a plaintiff to argue that the constitutionally cognizable
injury would not have occurred if the [defendant] had done
more than he or she did.” Sample v. Diecks,
885 F.2d 1099, 1118 (3rd Cir. 1989). Jail
officials are not liable for failing to “absolutely
guarantee the safety of their prisoners, ” and are
required only to take “reasonable steps” to
ensure their safety. Cox v. Glanz, 800 F.3d 1231,
1247 (10th Cir. 2015) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). So long as defendants respond
reasonably to known risks, they cannot be found deliberately