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Ingrassia v. Schafer

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 13, 2016

Thomas J. Ingrassia, Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Keith Schafer, Director, Missouri Department of Mental Health, In His Official Capacity; Felix Vincenz, Chief Operating Officer, Division of Comprehensive Psychiatric Services, Missouri Department of Mental Health, In His Official Capacity; Julie Inman, Regional Executive Officer, Missouri Department of Mental Health, In Her Official Capacity, Defendants Carol Dicknette, Office of Consumer Safety, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Defendant-Appellant Leigh Gibson, Office of Consumer Safety, Missouri Department of Mental Health, Defendant Jay Englehart, Psychiatrist/Physician, Medical Director, SORTS, In His Official and Individual Capacity; Alan Blake, Chief Operating Officer, SORTS, In His Official and Individual Capacity; Beth Weinkein, Dietician II, SORTS, In Her Official and Individual Capacity, Defendants-Appellants Brenda Swift, Facility Grievance Coordinator, SORTS, In Her Official and Individual Capacity; Bob Wills, Chief Nursing Executive, SORTS; Joe Easter, RN 5, SORTS, Defendants Marybeth Rowe, RN 5, SORTS, Defendant-Appellant Kevin Fletcher, Risk Management Committee; Kristina Bender, Unit Program Supervisor, SORTS; John Does, Members of Risk Management Committee, Executive Committee, Resident's Rights Review Committee, SORTS, Defendants

          Submitted: January 12, 2016

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

          Before MURPHY, SMITH, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, Circuit Judge.

         Thomas J. Ingrassia, a civilly-committed individual, sued Carol A. Dickneite, Jay W. Englehart, Alan W. Blake, Beth Weinkein and Mary Beth Rowe, alleging a violation of his constitutional right to adequate nutrition under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The district court denied defendants qualified immunity. They appeal. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms in part, reverses in part, and remands.

          I.

         Ingrassia was civilly committed to the Missouri Sexual Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services (SORTS) facility. In 2001, he escaped. Apprehended in 2003, he was convicted of property damage related to the escape. After serving a prison sentence, Ingrassia returned to SORTS in August 2008. He then weighed 150 pounds, although he alleges this was lower than normal due to recent back surgery.

         Returning to SORTS, Ingrassia was placed on Total Ward Restriction (TWR), which included not eating in the dining room. Based on his height, weight, and age, SORTS determined he required a 2000-calorie per day diet. The TWR lasted until March 15, 2009, when he began eating in the dining room. By May 27, Ingrassia weighed 163 pounds.

         Under SORTS policies, if a patient refuses to attend meals in the dining room or to comply with meal procedures, SORTS provides two 300-calorie meal-replacement drinks or, if medically necessary, a regular meal tray in the patient's room. On July 12, for unknown reasons, Ingrassia received two meal-replacement shakes instead of a regular meal. In protest, he microwaved the shakes in a styrofoam cup, put them on a desk in the nurse's station, and smashed a book on top of them, spilling them all over the desk.

         The following day, Rowe, a registered nurse, ordered that Ingrassia be provided a bag lunch and no drinks until further notice. Later that day, Blake, the chief operating officer, discontinued that order, directing that he receive regular meal trays but no hot liquids. Between July 22, 2009, and March 4, 2010, an additional order directed no liquids except water. On September 17, Ingrassia again smashed a meal-replacement shake in protest. Thereafter, he received only bag lunches and finger foods.

         According to Ingrassia, during this period of restrictions, his bag lunches often lacked key items. Each sack lunch normally had a sandwich, bag of chips, pack of cookies, and one piece of fruit. Ingrassia also received a 200-calorie night-snack. He alleges that, due to the missing items, he sometimes consumed only 1200 calories per day. In August 2009, shortly after the food restrictions began, Ingrassia weighed 165 pounds. Three months later, it was 151 pounds. Throughout the period of restrictions, Ingrassia made several formal and informal complaints to defendants. On March 4, 2010, he started receiving regular meals, ending the dietary restrictions.

         Ingrassia sued the defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a Fourteenth Amendment claim for denial of adequate nutrition. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. The district court denied the motion. Defendants appeal.

         II.

         The defendants argue that the district court should have granted them qualified immunity. "[A]n order denying qualified immunity is immediately appealable even though it is interlocutory." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 376 n.2 (2007). "'A defendant, entitled to invoke a qualified immunity defense, may not appeal a district court's summary judgment order insofar as that order determines whether or not the pretrial record sets forth a genuine issue of fact for trial'; the appealable issue is a purely legal one." White v. McKinley, 519 F.3d 806, 812 (8th Cir. 2008), quoting Johnson v. Jones, 515 U.S. 304, 319-20 (1995).

         This court reviews de novo the district court's denial of qualified immunity. Id. at 813. The defendants bear the burden to establish the relevant facts supporting qualified immunity, while Ingrassia receives the benefit of all reasonable inferences. See Wallingford v. Olson, 592 F.3d 888, 892 (8th Cir. 2010). Ingrassia "may not rest upon the mere allegation or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, " and "must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly ...


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