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Meske v. Renzelman

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

September 21, 2017

LILIANA M. MESKE, Plaintiff,
v.
AMANDA RENZELMAN, individually and in her official capacity; DON W. ANDERSON, individually and in his official capacity; ASOTIN COUNTY, a political subdivision of the State of Washington, and JOHN DOE 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         In the late afternoon on January 5, 2015, Plaintiff Liliana Meske was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and taken to the Asotin County Jail. At the jail, Ms. Meske was restrained, forcibly stripped of her clothing, and placed in a suicide smock. She suffered serious injuries in this process, including a broken rib and a contusion on her head. The officers involved in booking Ms. Meske, Deputy Amanda Renzelman and Sgt. Don Anderson, assert that Ms. Meske was belligerent, suicidal, and refusing to comply with their directions. They insist their use of force was necessary and reasonable. They also assert that Ms. Meske's injuries resulted from her falling and hitting her head on the wall and hitting her chest on a stool. Ms. Meske acknowledges having limited memory of what happened.

         Ms. Meske alleges that Deputy Renzelman and Sgt. Anderson used excessive force in violation of her Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. ECF No. 1 at 6-7. She also makes state-law battery and emotional distress claims. ECF No. 1 at 7-8. Defendants move for summary judgment on each of these claims, arguing that (1) Ms. Meske has not alleged a basis for municipal liability against Asotin County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) the use of force by corrections officers was reasonable; and (3) even if the use of force was a constitutional violation, the officers are entitled to qualified immunity.[1] For the reasons discussed below, Ms. Meske has alleged a basis for municipal liability against Asotin County, the individual defendants have not, on the present record, demonstrated that they are entitled to qualified immunity, and issues of fact preclude summary judgment on each of Ms. Meske's claims. Accordingly, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On January 5, 2015, in the late afternoon, Ms. Meske was arrested for DUI and transported to the Asotin County Jail, where she was booked. ECF No. 37 at 4-5; ECF No. 36 at 2. The corrections officers involved in booking Ms. Meske, Deputy Renzelman and Sgt. Anderson, aver that she appeared intoxicated, was uncooperative, and said she was suicidal. ECF No. 36 at 2; ECF No. 39 at 2. Ms. Meske refused requests to submit a breath sample. ECF No. 70 at 6.

         Ms. Meske told the officer who arrested her and Sgt. Anderson at the jail that she had recently tried to commit suicide and wanted to talk to her attorney about her will.[2] Id. at 6. She also made suicidal statements such as “just shoot me now.” Id. at 7. Sgt. Anderson made the decision to put Ms. Meske in a suicidal smock, and he directed a female officer, Deputy Renzelman, to place Ms. Meske in the smock. ECF No. 38 at 9; ECF No. 39 at 2.

         The officers provide the following version of events after Sgt. Anderson directed Deputy Renzelman to place Ms. Meske in the suicidal smock:

         Deputy Renzelman states that when she approached Ms. Meske, Ms. Meske attempted to force her way out of the cell by walking into Deputy Renzelman. ECF No. 38 at 2. Deputy Renzelman then directed Ms. Meske to sit down; Ms. Meske initially refused, but eventually sat after being directed to do so by Sgt. Anderson. Id. Next, Deputy Renzelman directed Ms. Meske to remove her jewelry. Id. Ms. Meske refused and, according to Deputy Renzelman, said “I am a big important person. You are all done, done, I am going to sue you.” Id. at 3. Deputy Renzelman told Ms. Meske several more times to remove the jewelry, to which Ms. Meske responded “come on and do it” and “come on and take it then.” Id. Deputy Renzelman states that Ms. Meske then began to stand up, at which time Deputy Renzelman put Ms. Meske's right arm in a wrist lock and placed her on the south wall of the cell. Id.; ECF No. 39 at 3. Sgt. Anderson came in and assisted, controlling Ms. Meske's left arm while Deputy Renzelman controlled her right. ECF No. 38 at 3.

         While Ms. Meske was restrained, Deputy Renzelman removed Ms. Meske's bracelets. Id. Deputy Renzelman states that during this time Ms. Meske continued to try to keep her arm from Deputy Renzelman and said “you are a fat ugly bitch, ” and “you are only doing this to make yourself feel better.” Id. Another corrections officer, Deputy MacArthur, then stepped into the cell and removed the rest of Ms. Meske's jewelry. Id. at 4; ECF No. 39 at 3. Deputy Renzelman then removed Ms. Meske's belt, and Ms. Meske allegedly said “you like that, huh” and flicked her tongue at Deputy Renzelman. ECF No. 38 at 4.

         Sgt. Anderson and Deputy Renzelman escorted Ms. Meske to a changing room. Id.; ECF No. 39 at 3. Sgt. Anderson instructed Ms. Meske that if she did not follow Deputy Renzelman's directions he would assist in changing her clothing. ECF No. 38 at 4; ECF No. 39 at 3. After Sgt. Anderson stepped out, Deputy Renzelman instructed Ms. Meske to remove her shirt and bra. ECF No. 38 at 4. Ms. Meske followed these instructions, then turned to Deputy Renzelman and reportedly said “do you like my titties? They are real unlike yours.” Id. Rezelman next instructed Ms. Meske several times to remove her pants and boots. Id. at 5. Ms. Meske refused and said “do you like what you see” several times. Id. Deputy Renzelman states that Ms. Meske then said “come and get it, bitch, ” at which time Deputy Renzelman grasped Ms. Meske's left arm in escort position. Id.

         Ms. Meske, who was wearing high-heeled shoes, began to lose her balance and stagger forward, ultimately tripping on a stool in the changing room. Id. According to Deputy Renzelman, as Ms. Meske fell, she hit her head on the wall, hit her side on a stool, and fell to the floor. Id. After Ms. Meske fell, she began screaming on the floor. Id.

         Sgt. Anderson says that at this time he heard Ms. Meske yell, followed by a thumping noise, and then Deputy Renzelman yelling at Ms. Meske to stop resisting. ECF No. 39 at 4. Sgt. Anderson then entered the changing room because he was concerned about Deputy Renzelman's safety. Id. He observed Deputy Renzelman in a prone position with Ms. Meske on the floor face down. Id. Sgt. Anderson assisted Deputy Renzelman by holding Ms. Meske's lower body while Deputy Renzelman tried to control Ms. Meske's arms. ECF No. 38 at 5; ECF No. 39 at 4. Deputy Renzelman instructed Ms. Meske to stop fighting, but she refused. ECF No. 38 at 5. After multiple orders, Ms. Meske eventually put her right arm behind her back and she was handcuffed. Id. at 6. After Ms. Meske was restrained, Sgt. Anderson removed her pants, shoes, and socks. Id.; ECF No. 39 at 4. Deputy Renzelman attempted to remove Ms. Meske's underwear, and eventually cut them off using scissors. ECF No. 38 at 6; ECF No. 39 at 4.

         Once Ms. Meske's clothing was removed, Deputy Renzelman placed Ms. Meske in a suicide smock, and Deputy Renzelman and MacArthur escorted her to the booking room. ECF No. 38 at 7. Medics examined Ms. Meske and advised the corrections officers to keep an eye on her and call them if she would not wake up or if her pupils were uneven. ECF No. 39 at 5. Deputy Renzelman had no further interaction with Ms. Meske. ECF No. 38 at 7. Deputy MacArthur and Sgt. Anderson escorted Ms. Meske to a hold cell and removed her handcuffs. There were no further incidents. ECF No. 39 at 5.

         Ms. Meske provided the following information:

         First, she does not remember many specifics from the event and denies any memory of (1) trying to leave the room or making physical contact with Deputy Renzelman when Deputy Renzelman initially told her to sit down; (2) purposefully refusing Deputy Renzelman's directions; (3) being told to stop fighting; (4) making threatening statements or calling the officers names; (5) Sgt. Anderson speaking to her; or (6) that she was examined by medics. ECF No. 50 at 3. She does admit ...


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