United States District Court, D. Colorado
JEFFREY W. HOCKENSMITH, as personal representative of the ESTATE OF JACQUELINE MARIE BICKFORD, Plaintiff,
JOHN MINOR, CHERYL GIORDANO, GILBERT, DANIELLE WOOD, and DEPUTIES JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-10, Defendants.
T. Varholak United States Magistrate Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Danielle
Wood's Motion to Dismiss [#14] (the “Wood
Motion”) and Defendant Sheriff John Minor's Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings [#32] (the “Minor
Motion”). The parties have consented to proceed before
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for all
proceedings, including entry of a final judgment. [#25, 26]
This Court has carefully considered the motions and related
briefing, the entire case file, and the applicable case law,
and has determined that oral argument would not materially
assist in the disposition of the motions. For the following
reasons, IT IS ORDERED that the Wood Motion
is DENIED and the Minor Motion is
Ms. Bickford's Suicide
lawsuit arises out of the April 11, 2016 suicide of
Jacqueline Marie Bickford while she was a pretrial detainee
at the Summit County Jail. [#1 at 1-2] On April 6, 2016, Ms.
Bickford was arrested when Summit County Deputy Sheriff Eric
Sipes found Ms. Bickford semi-conscious in her apartment with
her infant son nearby. [Id. at ¶ 12] Deputy
Sipes concluded that Ms. Bickford was severely intoxicated
and thus charged her with child abuse/neglect under Colorado
law. [Id. at ¶ 13] Upon her arrest, Ms.
Bickford was taken to the Summit County Medical Center, where
her blood alcohol content registered 0.351. [Id. at
¶ 14] Ms. Bickford was subsequently taken to the Summit
County Jail and held on a bond of $1, 000. [Id.]
the booking process at the Summit County Jail on April 6,
2016, at 6:40 p.m., Ms. Bickford told medical staff,
“If you take my kid away, I will kill myself.”
[Id. at ¶ 15] Despite this statement, Defendant
Danielle Wood, a mental health worker contracted to provide
mental health services at the Summit County Jail, noted on a
mental health form that Ms. Bickford “does not meet
criteria for an M1 hold currently.” [Id. at
¶¶ 10, 15] The Complaint defines an M1 hold as a
“72-hour mental health evaluation if a person is deemed
a danger to herself or others.” [Id. at ¶
15] Ms. Wood further noted that Ms. Bickford “is
cleared for general population” and that “Crisis
[mental health counseling organization] needs to be contacted
before [Ms. Bickford] is released to general public.”
[Id.] Just over two weeks earlier, on March 20,
2016, Ms. Wood had seen Ms. Bickford at Summit Safe Haven
Detox Facility and signed an M1 hold for Ms. Bickford after
determining that she was suicidal. [Id.]
April 7, 2016, at 2:10 a.m., Defendant Deputy Gilbert
assisted Ms. Bickford in filling out her intake
questionnaire. [Id. at ¶ 16] Ms. Bickford
indicated in the questionnaire that she had previously
suffered severe withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.
[Id.] Ms. Bickford also told Deputy Gilbert that she
suffered from depression and anxiety and that she was taking
prescribed medications for anxiety and depression.
[Id. at ¶¶ 16, 17] When asked if she
currently felt suicidal, Ms. Bickford responded by saying
“Yes, ” and Deputy Gilbert added a note that Ms.
Bickford “wants to kill herself.” [Id.
at ¶ 17] Ms. Bickford was then admitted into the jail.
April 8, 2016, Deputy Hochmuth noted that Mind Springs-a
mental health counseling group-asked to be notified if Ms.
Bickford was being released. [Id. at ¶ 18] On
Saturday, April 9, 2016, Ms. Bickford reported to a nurse at
the Summit County Jail that she was feeling “stress
from being in here” and told the nurse she had been
prescribed anti-depressants but was not receiving any
medication at the jail. [Id.] The nurse told Ms.
Bickford that the jail would make an appointment for her at
Summit County Medical Center on Monday, April 11, 2016.
April 10, 2016, Ms. Bickford sent a kite to jail staff
asking, “WHEN CAN I SEE A DOCTOR REGARDING
PRESCRIPTIONS?” [Id.] Within an hour,
Defendant Staff Sergeant Cheryl Giordano responded to the
kite in writing, asking Ms. Bickford, “What scripts?
Are these meds you are currently on? Is someone able to drop
them off? Who is the prescribing doctor? Where they out of?
Do you have a phone number?” [Id.] As of this
time, Ms. Bickford still was not receiving any of her
prescribed medications. [Id.] The only medication
Ms. Bickford received from her admission on April 6, 2016
through April 10, 2016 was Ibuprofen and Pepto Bismol.
[Id. at ¶ 19] Sergeant Giordano also informed
Ms. Bickford on April 10, 2016 that a restraining order had
been entered against Ms. Bickford regarding her son.
[Id. at 20]
April 10, 2016, at 9:10 p.m., Deputy J. Moore reported seeing
Ms. Bickford vomiting, sweating, and shaking-all common
symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. [Id. at ¶ 21]
Ms. Bickford told Deputy Moore that she was not feeling well,
and he took her to the booking desk. [Id.] Ms.
Bickford was crying and stated multiple times that “she
didn't want to be [there] and did not want to go back to
A pod.” [Id. at ¶ 22] Ms. Bickford
exhibited an elevated blood pressure and a racing
pulse-additional symptoms of alcohol withdrawal-but she
denied that she wanted to hurt herself. [Id.] Ms.
Bickford was asked to sit in a holding cell so that deputies
could monitor her medical status. [Id.]
a.m. on April 11, 2016, Ms. Bickford was escorted back to her
cell in the A Pod. [Id.] According to Deputy Moore,
she was no longer shaking, sweating, or crying at that time.
[Id.] Later on April 11, 2016, Ms. Bickford hung
herself with a bedsheet. [Id. at ¶ 23]
Other Incidents at the Summit County Jail
Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Summit County “has a
shameful history of exhibiting deliberate indifference to the
serious needs of inmates.” [Id. at ¶ 24]
In support, Plaintiff offers several recent examples.
Plaintiff contends that Summit County recently settled a
Section 1983 case involving the death of an inmate at the
Summit County Jail named Zackary Moffitt. [Id. at
¶ 25] According to the Complaint, Mr. Moffitt was booked
into the jail with a blood alcohol level of almost 0.4 and,
over the course of several days, displayed “classic
signs of alcohol withdrawal.” [Id. at ¶
26] Plaintiff alleges that the jail administrator at the time
recognized that Mr. Moffitt needed help and called the doctor
who was contracting with the county to provide medical care
at the jail. [Id. at ¶ 27] When the
administrator found out that the doctor was on vacation,
however, he allegedly “did nothing whatsoever from that
point to obtain emergency treatment for Mr. Moffitt who then
died from alcohol withdrawal.” [Id.]
alleges that Summit County also recently settled another
Section 1983 case involving injuries sustained by an inmate
named James Durkee. [Id. at ¶¶ 31-32]
According to the Complaint, although an order had been issued
to keep Mr. Durkee separated from an inmate who was
threatening his life, staff at the Summit County Jail failed
to protect Mr. Durkee and several bones in Mr. Durkee's
face ultimately were fractured when he was attacked by the
inmate from whom he was supposed to have been separated.
[Id. at ¶¶ 30-31]
Complaint further contends that Sergeant Giordano testified
at a deposition in the Moffitt case that she quit her job
with the Summit County Jail “due to the number of
health-related incidents at the jail, ” including Ms.
Bickford's suicide, which she said was the last straw.
[Id. at ¶ 33] Summit County Deputy Lambert
allegedly testified during a deposition in the Moffitt case
that an inmate had attempted suicide without her noticing,
because she was watching a movie when she was supposed to be
monitoring the cell block. [Id. at ¶ 34]
Although Summit County was going to fire her for the
incident, the county instead permitted her to resign and gave
her a severance. [Id.]
upon these incidents and testimony, Plaintiff alleges that
the Summit County Sheriff's Department “has a
custom, practice and policy of ignoring the serious medical
needs/health and safety needs of inmates.”
[Id. at ¶ 35]
The Instant Lawsuit
March 21, 2018, Plaintiff Jeffrey W. Hockensmith, as the
personal representative of the Estate of Ms. Bickford, filed
this lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting two
claims for relief. [#1] Plaintiff's First Claim for
Relief alleges a violation of Ms. Bickford's right to
necessary medical care pursuant to the Due Process Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment against Defendants Captain Erik J.
Bourgerie, Sergeant Giordano, Deputy Gilbert, and Ms. Wood in
their individual capacities and against Sheriff John Minor in
his official capacity. [Id. at 8-9]
Plaintiff's Second Claim for Relief alleges supervisory
liability for failure to train and supervise in violation of
the Fourteenth Amendment against Sheriff Minor in his
individual and official capacities. [Id. at 9-10]
17, 2018, Ms. Wood filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's
First Claim for Relief against her-the only claim asserted
against Ms. Wood. [#14] The Wood Motion argues that
Plaintiff's claim against Ms. Wood fails as a matter of
law, because the allegations “are insufficient to
demonstrate state action on the part of Ms. Wood.”
[Id. at 2] On June 7, 2018, Plaintiff filed a
response to the Wood Motion [#18], and Ms. Wood then filed a
reply in support of her motion [#22].
4, 2018, Sheriff Minor, Captain Bourgerie, and Deputy Gilbert
answered the Complaint. [#17] On July 2, 2018, Sergeant
Giordano answered the Complaint. [#29] On July 20, 2018,
Plaintiff and Captain Bourgerie filed a Stipulation with the
Court agreeing that “all claims asserted by Plaintiff
against Defendant Bourgerie be dismissed without
prejudice” pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
41(a)(1)(A), which allows for the dismissal of a
plaintiff's claims without an order of the Court in
certain circumstances. [#31] Plaintiff's claims against
Caption Bourgerie thus were dismissed and terminated from the
lawsuit as of the filing of the Stipulation. [#33]
20, 2018, Sheriff Minor filed a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, arguing that all the claims asserted against
Sheriff Minor in his individual capacity should be dismissed
pursuant to the doctrine of qualified immunity. [#32] On
August 24, 2018, Plaintiff filed a response to the Minor
Motion [#38], and Sheriff Minor then filed a reply in support
of his motion [#44]. On October 23, 2018, Sheriff Minor filed
a Notice of Supplemental Authority in further support of the
Minor Motion. [#45]