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Asay v. Daggett County

United States District Court, D. Utah

January 11, 2019

JOSHUA ASAY, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the court on Defendants Mike Haddon, Interim Executive Director of the Utah Department of Corrections, and Jeffrey Toone (collectively “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss. On December 18, 2018, the court held a hearing on the motion. At the hearing, the Plaintiff was represented by John M. Mejia. Defendants were represented by Darin B. Goff and Joni J. Jones. The court took the motion under advisement. Based on the briefing filed by the parties and the law and facts relevant to the pending motion, the court issues the following Memorandum Decision and Order.


         Plaintiff Joshua Asay filed this lawsuit based on what he describes as “unbelievably inhumane conduct” while incarcerated in the State's custody in the Daggett County Jail.

         Asay was assigned to be confined at the Daggett County Jail as part of the Inmate Placement Program. Defendant Jeffrey Toone was assigned to be Asay's case worker. On several occasions, Toone allegedly told Asay that he had to stay at least one year at the Jail before he could be transferred. Asay has been taking prescribed medications related to mental health issues for most of his life. Toone allegedly failed to ensure Asay was given his medications while he was incarcerated at the Jail.

         Rather than give prisoners their medications, the County allegedly had a policy and/or practice of refusing to fill prescriptions and even throwing away medications that prisoners brought to the Jail. The County allegedly followed this policy in denying Asay his prescribed medications. Department officials, including Toone, were allegedly aware of the County's policy and practice of refusing to provide medications to prisoners at the Jail. Because Asay's prescriptions were related to mental health, being denied them allegedly made Asay more vulnerable to mistreatment at the Jail.

         During 2016 and 2017, Deputy Joshua Cox allegedly participated in constant, extreme physical and emotional abuse of Asay while he was at the Jail. On many occasions, Deputy Cox allegedly singled Asay out for taunting and humiliation, including calling him a “bitch” and frequently denigrating him in front of other prisoners.

         On one occasion, Deputy Cox allegedly forced Asay to clean the sally port with his bare hands to humiliate and degrade him. The sally port was the area where prisoners and guards washed cars, so Asay was allegedly exposed to potentially toxic materials.

         On another occasion, Deputy Cox ordered Asay to clean a sewer system, despite knowing that Asay may have an extreme negative reaction. Ultimately another prisoner cleaned the system instead to save Asay from a negative reaction.

         On another occasion, Asay was working outside of the Jail and Deputy Cox was in his patrol car from the police force he worked for part time. Although Asay claims he did nothing wrong, Deputy Cox allegedly pulled his firearm out of the holster and pointed it in Asay's face.

         On other occasions, Deputy Cox allegedly pointed his Taser into Asay's face. In or around August 2016, Deputy Cox and other guards held a barbeque with Asay and other prisoners on the work crew. At that time, Deputy Cox allegedly told Asay that if he refused to be subjected to being shocked by a Taser, Asay would lose his job and his ability to work outside the jail. After this threat, Asay allegedly submitted to Deputy Cox's demands and did not resist Deputy Cox shocking him with the Taser. During this incident, Deputy Cox allegedly shot Asay in the arm with the Taser twice. The electricity caused Asay intense pain and created a significant risk of injury or death. Deputy Walker and another guard allegedly watched Deputy Cox electrocute Asay with the Taser and appeared to enjoy watching Asay endure being shocked. Deputy Cox allegedly shocked other prisoners on this same day as well.

         On several other occasions, Deputy Cox would allegedly wrestle with prisoners. Asay allegedly saw Deputy Cox chocking another prisoner, causing Asay to fear for that prisoner's life. To protect the prisoner, Asay pulled Deputy Cox away from him to temporarily immobilize him.

         After being subjected to the above abuse, Asay allegedly requested Toone to move him from the Jail.

         After the Taser incident, Deputy Cox allegedly falsely accused Asay of stealing items while cleaning an office so that Asay's ability to work would be stripped from him. Once Asay lost his work privileges, he fell into a deep depression and spent most of the day sleeping while at the Jail.

         Eventually, in early 2017, two investigators from the Department interviewed Asay about the alleged abuse. After Asay revealed his experiences, he was transferred to the Summit County Jail.

         In approximately October 2017, while on a work crew from the Summit County Jail, Asay stepped on a nail and was transported for a tetanus shot. Asay received a shot and one pill. Additionally, a prescription was ...

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