United States District Court, D. New Mexico
AIMEE BEVAN, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Desiree Gonzales, deceased, Plaintiff,
SANTA FE COUNTY, MARK CALDWELL, in his official capacity, MARK GALLEGOS, in his individual capacity, GABRIEL VALENCIA, Youth Development Administrator, Individually, MATTHEW EDMUNDS, Corrections Officer, individually, JOHN ORTEGA, Corrections Officer, MOLLY ARCHULETA, Corrections Nurse, Individually, ST. VINCENT HOSPITAL, and NATHAN PAUL UNKEFER, M.D., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
matter comes before the Court upon Defendant Mark
Gallegos' Motion for Summary Judgment (Motion for Summary
Judgment), filed on February 18, 2016. (Doc. 133). Plaintiff,
the personal representative of the estate of Desiree
Gonzales, filed a response on March 6, 2016, and Defendant
Mark Gallegos (Gallegos) filed a reply on March 21, 2016.
(Docs. 138 and 147). Having considered the Motion for Summary
Judgment, the accompanying briefs, and relevant law, the
Court grants the Motion for Summary Judgment, and will
dismiss, with prejudice, the claims against Gallegos as well
as Defendant Mark Caldwell (Caldwell). A. Background
Facts Relevant to the Motion for Summary
case involves, in part, whether Desiree Gonzales received
adequate medical care while incarcerated at the Santa Fe
Youth Development Program (YDP). Prior to Gonzales'
incarceration at the YDP, Gonzales had been treated for a
heroin overdose and medically cleared for incarceration at
the YDP. It is undisputed that Gonzales experienced
respiratory distress while at the YDP and eventually stopped
breathing. See St. Vincent Emergency Physician
Report (Doc. 145-2) at 1, 3, and 4 (Gonzales “would
stop breathing & gasp for air, ” made
“gurgling noises, ” had “difficulty
breathing, ” complained to her mother of chest pain,
and finally stopped breathing altogether). It is also
undisputed that when Gonzales stopped breathing and became
nonresponsive YDP staff called 911. Id. at 3-4.
Several hours later, Gonzales died at St. Vincent Hospital.
Id. at 4. The Office of the Medical Investigator
determined that the cause of death was “Toxic effects
of heroin.” (Doc. 145-4) at 1.
time of this incident, Gallegos was the warden of the Santa
Fe adult detention facility. (Doc. 133-1) at 3, depo. at 6.
Gallegos did not oversee the YDP, but had some interactions
with the YDP such as cross trainings and networking meetings.
(Doc. 133-2) at 1-2, depo. at 9, 11, and 13. Gallegos was not
involved with any of the policies or procedures at the YDP.
Id. at 1, depo. at 11. Caldwell, on the other hand,
oversaw the YDP and supervised Rene Fernandez, the interim
YDP director. Id. at 1, depo. at 10-12. Caldwell was
also Gallegos' deputy warden at the adult detention
facility. Id. at 1, depo. at 10.
after Gonzales was taken by ambulance from the YDP to St.
Vincent Hospital, the Santa Fe County public safety director,
Pablo Sedillo, asked Gallegos to meet him at the YDP to
provide assistance and support. Id. at 2, depo. at
13-14. Gallegos did not know about Gonzales or any of the
details surrounding the incident until he went to the YDP on
the night of the incident. Id., depo. at 14. At the
YDP, Sedillo gathered information about the incident while
Gallegos listened and saw where Gonzales had slept. (Doc.
138-1) at 3-6. Fernandez then asked Caldwell and Gallegos to
review the incident statements written by YDP staff to ensure
that they were “clear and concise and correct.”
Id. at 7, depo. 38-39.
observed that the incident statements contained poor
penmanship and grammatical errors. Id. at 7, depo.
39-40. He wrote “Rejected” on incident statements
written by Defendants John Ortega and Gabriel Valencia. (Doc.
138-2) at 1 and 3. Gallegos also wrote on Ortega's
incident statement remarks such as “Who What When Where
Why How” and “Action Taken.” (Doc. 138-2)
at 1. Additionally, Gallegos wrote on the incident statements
submitted by Ortega, Valencia, and Esmeralda Coronado
specific questions about the incident such as “What did
you do?” “Describe foggy?” “Dressed
out by whom?” “What concerns did you have?”
and “Did she appear under the influence?”
Id. at 1, 3, and 5. Ortega, Valencia, and Coronado
responded to Gallegos' comments by submitting amended
incident statements. Id. at 2, 4, and 6. Gallegos
did not tell Ortega, Valencia, and Coronado to change any
information in the incident statements that could be harmful
to Defendant Santa Fe County. (Doc. 138-1) at 7, depo. at 40.
Gonzales' death, Sedillo and Gallegos attended a critical
incident debriefing. Gallegos spoke generally about following
policy and procedures, training, better documentation, and
identifying unusual behaviors which require contacting
“Medical.” (Doc. 138-4) at 3-4, transcript at 47
and 52. Sedillo spoke about the need for a protocol for
transferring patients from the hospital to the YDP and the
need for training. Id. at 2, 5-6, transcript at 46,
65, and 67.
testified at her deposition that she did not receive training
on what to look for when a resident was intoxicated with
drugs or how to help such a resident. (Doc. 138-5) at 2,
depo. at 13. She also did not receive training on the use of
Narcan or naloxone. Id. at 3, depo. at 14.
The Complaint for Wrongful Death (Complaint) (Doc. 1) at
originally sued Gallegos in his official and individual
capacities. (Doc. 1) at 5, ¶ 8. Subsequently, pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d),  Caldwell, in his official capacity, was
automatically substituted for Gallegos, in his official
capacity. (Doc. 197) at 7. Because the official capacity
claims against Caldwell are the same as those previously
brought against Gallegos, the Court will address the official
capacity claims against Caldwell in the context of this
Motion for Summary Judgment. Of course, the claims against
Gallegos, in his individual capacity, still stand.
to the claims against Gallegos, in his individual capacity,
and now Caldwell, in his official capacity, Plaintiff brings
the following claims in Count One of the Complaint: (1) a 42
U.S.C. § 1983 Fourteenth Amendment due process claim;
(2) a Section 1983 Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual
punishment claim; and (3) a cruel and unusual punishment
claim under the New Mexico Constitution, Article II, Section
13. Plaintiff alleges in Count One that Gallegos, presumably
in his individual capacity, was deliberately indifferent to
Gonzales' serious medical needs by inappropriately
accepting Gonzales at the YDP and then denying her medical
care. (Doc. 1) at 11 and 13, ¶¶ 54 and 62.
Plaintiff also alleges that the deliberate indifference is
“demonstrated by the cover-up that occurred immediately
after” Gonzales was found unresponsive at YDP.
Id. at 13, ¶ 63. Plaintiff maintains that
“the supervisor” ordered YDP “officers to
change their story” to avoid responsibility for
Gonzales' death. Id. at 13, ¶ 66. This
cover-up allegedly included the YDP officers “giving
false information to medical providers” and falsifying
records after Gonzales became unresponsive and died.
Id. at 13, ¶¶ 66 and 67. Plaintiff asserts
that the official capacity claims involve the YDP
“Acting Warden's” failure to provide adequate
staff, adequate training, and appropriate policies for
medical screening and monitoring of inmates. Id. at
11, ¶ 57.
Count Two of the Complaint, Plaintiff brings Section 1983
claims against Defendant Santa Fe County. In Count Three of
the Complaint, Plaintiff brings a New Mexico Tort Claims Act
(NMTCA) negligence and wrongful death claim against Gallegos
for failing to provide Gonzales with adequate medical care
and for the manner in which he operated the
Id. at 15, ¶¶ 82 and 83. It is unclear
whether Plaintiff brings Count Three against Gallegos only in
his individual capacity.
moves for summary judgment on all claims against him and
asserts qualified immunity as to the Section 1983 individual
capacity claims. Plaintiff opposes the Motion for Summary
Judgment in its entirety.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if the moving party shows
“there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact
and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Once the moving party meets
its initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine
issue of material fact, the burden shifts to the nonmoving
party to set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. See Schneider v. City of Grand
Junction Police Dep't, 717 F.3d 760, 767 (10th Cir.
2013). A dispute over a material fact is
“genuine” only if “the evidence is such
that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The Court views
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draws all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving
party's favor. Tabor v. Hilti, Inc., 703 F.3d
1206, 1215 (10th Cir. 2013).
defendant moves for summary judgment on the basis of a
qualified immunity defense, the Court “still view[s]
the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party
and resolve[s] all factual disputes and reasonable inferences
in its favor.” Estate of Booker v. Gomez, 745
F.3d 405, 411(10th Cir. 2014). Unlike other affirmative
defenses, the plaintiff bears the burden of overcoming the
defense of qualified ...