Zink v. Lombardi, No. 14-2220 (8th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Previously, Missouri’s lethal-injection protocol involved Sodium thiopental to anesthetize the prisoner and render him unconscious, pancuronium bromide to paralyze him and stop his breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the prisoner’s heart. In 2012, after sodium thiopental became unavailable, the state revised its protocol to use a single drug—propofol—as the lethal agent. While a challenge was pending, the state revised its protocol to use pentobarbital as the lethal agent. An amended complaint alleged that use of compounded pentobarbital constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, that the defendants are deliberately indifferent to the plaintiffs’ medical need for their executions not to inflict gratuitous pain, that use of compounded pentobarbital creates a significant risk of increased punishment over previous methods and amounts to ex post facto punishment, that the defendants deprived them of due process by not providing notice of the lethal injection methods, that the defendants deprived them of equal protection by deviating from execution protocol in certain instances, that the defendants violated their First Amendment rights by refusing to disclose the identities of the pharmacy that compounds the pentobarbital and its suppliers, and that the defendants violated federal laws by soliciting and using the compounded pentobarbital in executions. The court dismissed all claims except for that alleging “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment and its state equivalent. The prisoners’ concession that “other methods of lethal injection . . . would be constitutional” did not suffice to state a claim. The Eighth Circuit affirmed.