Norman Whitney, Sr. Plaintiff-Appellant
City of St. Louis, Missouri; Shelley Sharp, in both her Official Capacity as a Corrections Officer and Individually
Submitted: March 14, 2018
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
ERICKSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Whitney, Sr. ("Whitney Sr.") brought this action
after his son, a pretrial detainee who had recently been
treated for suicidal thoughts, hanged himself in a cell that
was monitored by closed-circuit television. Whitney Sr.
asserted state law wrongful death claims and federal claims
under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against correctional officer
Shelley Sharp and the City of St. Louis. The district
courtdismissed the federal claims because the
complaint failed to allege that Sharp knew that Whitney
Sr.'s son presented a suicide risk and because the City
could not be liable without an underlying constitutional
violation. The district court declined to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Having
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.
August 4, 2014, after being arrested, Norman Whitney, Jr.
("Whitney") was taken to the St. Louis University
Hospital for treatment of an irregular
heartbeat.While there, he attempted to escape and
said that he wanted the police to take his life so that he
would not be sent back to prison. He was evaluated and
determined to be suicidal. After being treated by psychiatry
and showing improvement, he was released as fit for
confinement and transported to the St. Louis City Justice
Center on August 8, 2014.
August 10, 2014, Whitney was moved to a medical unit in the
Justice Center because he was suffering from a number of
medical conditions, including (1) detoxification from heroin
use, (2) congestive heart failure, (3) hypertension, and (4)
diabetes mellitus. Sharp was assigned to monitor Whitney in
his cell via closed- circuit television. Sharp last saw
Whitney pacing by the shower area at 9:05 a.m. Sometime
within the next fourteen minutes, she discovered that he had
hanged himself with a ligature made from his ripped hospital
Whitney's death, an unnamed medical practitioner at the
Justice Center came forward to report that Whitney had
mentioned having suicidal ideation to him. There is no
evidence that this information was relayed to Sharp or other
jail personnel prior to Whitney's death. Whitney denied
suicidal ideation when asked by other correctional officers.
father brought an action in Missouri state court against
Sharp, in both her official and individual capacities, as
well as the City of St. Louis, asserting claims under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and the Missouri wrongful death act. The
action was removed to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. The complaint alleges that Sharp caused
Whitney's death through her deliberate indifference by
failing to: (1) "adequately monitor Whitney;" (2)
"timely provide adequate medical care to his serious
suicidal medical condition and need;" and/or (3)
"timely intervene to rescue Whitney while he was
committing suicide in the CCTV cell." The claim against
the City is based on the City's failure "to have a
policy of constant surveillance under the circumstances of
and the City filed motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The district court
granted the motions, dismissed with prejudice the § 1983
claims against both defendants, and dismissed without
prejudice the state law claims against both defendants.
Sr. claims the district court erred (1) when it held that the
complaint did not adequately plead deliberate indifference in
his claim against Sharp, and (2) when it held that the City
could not be liable under § 1983 in the absence of a
constitutional violation by Sharp. We review the grant of a
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) de novo. Hughes
v. City of Cedar Rapids, 840 F.3d 987, 994 (8th Cir.
2016) (citing Sparkman Learning Ctr. v. Ark. Dep't.
of Human Servs., 775 F.3d 993, 997 (8th Cir. 2014)). To
survive a 12(b)(6) motion, "a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
A.Deliberate Indifference Claim ...