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Turner v. Mull

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 28, 2015

Terry M. Turner, Plaintiff - Appellant
Sidney Mull, Sergeant, Correctional Officer, Transportation Supervisor; Angela Chandler, Hospital Administrator; Robert Thebeau, Correctional Officer; Terry Russell; Pete Koenig; John Doe, Correctional Officer, Defendants - Appellees

Submitted January 13, 2015

Page 486

Appeal from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - St. Louis.

For Terry M. Turner, Plaintiff - Appellant: Zachary Charles Howenstine, Armstrong & Teasdale, Saint Louis, MO; Scott T. Jansen, Armstrong & Teasdale, Jefferson City, MO.

Terry M. Turner, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Bowling Green, MO.

For Sidney Mull, Sergeant, Correctional Officer, Transportation Supervisor, Robert Thebeau, Correctional Officer, Terry Russell, Pete Koenig, Defendants - Appellees: Christopher Hoell, Assistant Attorney General, Attorney General's Office, Saint Louis, MO.

For Angela Chandler, Hospital Administrator, Defendant - Appellee: Carrie Lynne Kinsella, Jessica L. Liss, Daniel Patrick O'Donnell Jr., Jackson & Lewis, Saint Louis, MO.

Before SMITH, BENTON, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.


Page 487

SMITH, Circuit Judge.

Terry Turner brought this suit against several officials at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri (ERDCC), asserting violations of his rights under the Eighth Amendment; the Fourteenth Amendment; Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. ; and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. The district court[1] granted summary judgment to the officials on all claims. We affirm.

I. Background

At all times relevant to this case, Turner was an inmate at the ERDCC. Turner suffered from a neurological disorder but was able to ambulate, stand, and sit with the use of leg braces and crutches. Although Turner sought and received medical care for his neurological condition on multiple occasions in 2011, no physician ordered that Turner be provided use of a wheelchair. Similarly, no physician ordered that the ERDCC transport Turner in a wheelchair-accessible van.

The ERDCC had a wheelchair-accessible van equipped with a " lift" --that is, a device that raises wheelchair users from the ground to the floor level of the van and vice versa. The ERDCC generally restricted the van's use to actual wheelchair users, and signage on the van separately advised that only wheelchairs were allowed on the wheelchair lift and that standing on the lift was forbidden to avoid falls. Thus, before allowing inmates to use the wheelchair-accessible van, the ERDCC generally required that inmates receive a medical order for transportation via a wheelchair-accessible vehicle and that the inmates arrive at the transportation area in a wheelchair.

On March 22, 2011, Transportation Officer Pete Koenig and Correctional Officer Robert Thebeau transported Turner to and from a medical appointment at the Capitol Regional Medical Center in Jefferson City, Missouri (CRMC). Turner arrived at the transportation area with neither a wheelchair nor a physician's order to use a wheelchair-accessible van. Consequently, he was transported to and from the CRMC in a non-wheelchair-accessible

Page 488

van. Turner alleges that, due to physical limitations allegedly associated with his neurological condition, the only way he could enter the van was by crawling into it. He also alleges, among other things, that urine and vomit were on the van floor and that he was unable to eat a sack lunch while traveling in the van because of his exposure to the unsanitary conditions.

Turner also alleges that, during his return trip from the CRMC, Thebeau stopped the van near a bridge for approximately five minutes. At some time during the stop, according to Turner, Thebau mentioned that he and Koenig could drown Turner and claim that Turner tried to escape. Thebeau and Koenig then allegedly looked at Turner and laughed. Turner admits that he " do[es not] know if they [were] playing or not."

Approximately two months later, on May 19, 2011, Turner filed an Inmate Resolution Request concerning the alleged events that occurred on March 22, 2011. At some point thereafter, according to Turner, prison staff searched and " ransacked" his cell in retaliation for his lodging the complaint. Turner alleges that Thebeau was present when his cell was searched. Turner further alleges that Thebeau retaliated against him by visiting " 3-House," the housing unit in which Turner was incarcerated, and calling Turner " names" and using " expletives."

On September 5, 2011, Angela Chandler, an employee of Corizon, Inc. who served as the Health Services Administrator at the ERDCC, requested via email to ERDCC Transportation Supervisor Sidney Mull that Turner be transported in a " wheelchair, handicapped-accessible van" for medical appointments. Chandler was not a physician, but Turner had informed her earlier that same day that he found it uncomfortable and difficult to ride in the non-wheelchair-accessible van. In response to Chandler's email, Mull informed Chandler that he was willing to transport Turner in the wheelchair-accessible van (even though Turner lacked any medical order to that effect); however, Mull made clear that Turner--per facility policy--must arrive at the transportation area in a wheelchair:

The only way I can load him via the lift on the handicap van is if he is in a wheelchair. The vehicle has a warning not to load people with it due to the risk of falling. If he comes down in a ...

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