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Spradley v. The Leflore County Detention Center Public Trust Board

United States District Court, E.D. Oklahoma

May 2, 2018


          OPINION & ORDER

          James H. Payne United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are the (1) Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Ed Drury (Dkt. 107) and (2) Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Leflore County Detention Center Public Trust Board (Dkt. 105). In the interest of efficiency, the Court will address both Motions in this Opinion and Order. After consideration of the briefs, and for the reasons stated below, both Motions are GRANTED.


         Plaintiff David Spradley (“Plaintiff”) is a paraplegic with use of his upper body, including his hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and head. (Dkt. 107, at 3 (Drury's Undisputed Fact Nos. 1-2)).[1] Plaintiff has no use of his legs or control of his bladder or bowel. (Dkt. 107-4 (DOC Letter)). Because of his paralysis, Plaintiff is prone to bedsores (also known as decubitus ulcers or pressure sores), and he requires special accommodations to lessen the probability of bedsores, including a cushioned wheelchair and a gel-filled mattress for his bed. (Id.). Plaintiff has repeatedly suffered from bedsores necessitating treatment since his spinal injury occurred in 2011, through the date of his 2014 incarceration at the Leflore County Detention Center (“LCDC”). (Dkts. 107-7 to 107-21 (Medical Records for Plaintiff)). It is undisputed that paraplegics such as Plaintiff can develop bedsores, and such bedsores can worsen, even with good care and absent negligence. (Dkt. 107, at 12 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 44)).

         On September 2, 2014, Plaintiff was arrested and booked into LCDC pursuant to an application to revoke his suspended sentence. (Dkt. 107-28 (Application to Revoke Suspended Sentence)). He was booked into LCDC and bonded out the next day. (Dkt. 107-29, at 2 (LCDC Jail Time Statement)). On September 4, 2014, Plaintiff was re-arrested and re-booked into LCDC. (Id.). Plaintiff remained in LCDC custody for eighteen days, until September 22, 2014. (Dkt. 107, at 6 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 12)).

         Plaintiff was allowed to bring his own special gel mattress topper and wheelchair to LCDC. (Dkt. 107, at 6 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 13)). Plaintiff's father later provided a shower chair, which Plaintiff was allowed to use to shower at LCDC. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 64:8-24). Following Plaintiff's second booking on September 4, 2014, Defendant Nurse Ed Drury (“Drury”) performed Plaintiff's initial medical screening. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 36:7-39:8). Drury noted a pressure sore on Plaintiff's right foot and a sore that was healing on Plaintiff's left foot. (Id. at 37:15-38:7). Drury also observed a red mark on Plaintiff's left hip. (Id. at 42:12-25).

         Drury then called Nurse Practitioner Tim Olive (“Olive”) to come to the jail to examine Plaintiff. (Id. at 39:9-40:2). Olive assessed Plaintiff on the evening of September 4, 2014, noted the pressure sore on Plaintiff's right foot and other medical issues, and recommended that Plaintiff be seen at Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center (“EOMC”). (Id. at 40:3-42:3; Dkt. 107-32 (Olive Deposition), 20:9-23:16). Olive further recommended use of wet-to-dry dressings on the right foot sore, to be changed twice a day, and he recommended Plaintiff wear compression hose to reduce swelling. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 41:4-18; 43:2-4; Dkt. 107, at 7 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 20)). Plaintiff declined Olive's recommendation to go to EOMC that night, because Plaintiff planned to be released from jail shortly thereafter. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 40:23-41:3). Plaintiff also refused to wear the compression hose. (Dkt. 120-2 (Olive Deposition), 24:8-12).

         On September 6, 2014, Plaintiff went to EOMC for the assessment Olive had ordered on September 4th. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 48:4-24, 51:16-20; Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 129:10-19). At EOMC, Dr. Jeff Spears provided wound care to Plaintiff and prescribed heel protectors before discharging Plaintiff that same day. (Dkt. 107, at 8 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 24)). No bedsores were present on Plaintiff's buttocks or hips on September 6, 2014. (Id.).

         Following Plaintiff's return to LCDC, Drury performed wound care for Plaintiff, applying wet-to-dry dressings twice a day. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 43:1-24; (Dkt. 107-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 346:16-20, 359:8-16, 362:13-18, 368:15-18, 375:20-22).[2] Plaintiff refused to wear the prescribed heel protectors. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 51:3-15). Drury assisted Plaintiff with his bowel program and catheter when Drury was at the jail. (Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 104:9-25; Dkt. 107-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 375:12-19). Drury also administered medications to Plaintiff, although Plaintiff disputes that it was administered in the prescribed doses. (Dkt. 107-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 335:2-336:3, 476:8-11). Plaintiff also received assistance from Drury or other LCDC guards in changing position at least twice per day. (Dkt. 120-4 (Plaintiff Deposition), 537:22-538:19). Jail Administrator Donnie Edwards walked by Plaintiff's jail cell every day he was on duty to check on him, and Plaintiff never complained he was being mistreated by Drury or other LCDC staff. (Dkt. 107, at 9 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 31)). Dr. Jeffrey Stone, Plaintiff's wound care expert, has no criticism of the treatment Drury provided for Plaintiff's wounds between September 7 and September 16, 2014. (Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 135:16-24).[3]

         Plaintiff received at least three or four showers at the jail during his stay. (Dkt. 112-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 543:12-14). To shower, Plaintiff undressed in his cell and was wheeled through the booking area to reach the shower area. Drury testified that Plaintiff was always covered with a blanket when he was wheeled to the shower room. Dkt. 105-3 (Drury Deposition), 109:4-20). However, Plaintiff testified that the first time he showered at LCDC, he was wheeled naked through the booking area, in view of other inmates and several laughing jail employees. (Dkt. 112-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 544:21-547:13).

         On September 16, 2014, Drury noted a closed reddened area on Plaintiff's left hip, including an area of necrotic tissue, for which Drury ordered wet-to-dry dressing changes. (Dkt. 120-6 (Drury's notes, dated Sept. 16, 2014)).[4] Dr. Stone testified that this kind of wound would not have required a physician's examination, and the standard of care was appropriate on September 16th. (Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 137:10-22). On September 17, 2014, the closed reddened area on the hip was unchanged, measuring two centimeters by two centimeters. (Dkt. 120-8, at 7 (Nurse's Notes, dated Sept. 17, 2014); Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 138:9-17). On September 18, 2014, Drury noted the reddened area on the hip was the same size but was leaking a small amount of serosanguinous drainage. (Dkt. 120-8, at 7 (Nurse's Notes, dated Sept. 18, 2014)). Dr. Stone testified this wound, while not requiring a physician's examination, would have caused him concern that Plaintiff was “heading down the path of breaking down, ” given Plaintiff's medical history. (Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 141:12-23; 143:4-6).

         On September 19, 2014, Drury noted a reddened area on Plaintiff's buttocks, and he noted no new deterioration of the hip area. (Dkt. 120-8, at 7 (Nurse's Notes, dated Sept. 19, 2014)). Dr. Stone testified that these wounds, while not requiring a physician's examination or hospital care, would have warranted checking on Plaintiff's wounds “significantly more often.” (Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 144:16-22). Dr. Stone further testified that on the 18th and 19th, Drury would have had to make a judgment call about how to treat the reddened areas. (Id. at 145:20-23). In addition, Dr. Stone testified that there is room for a reasonable difference of opinion concerning Drury's actions in regard to his treatment of Plaintiff's sores. (Id. at 43:1-7).

         Drury was not on duty on Saturday, September 20, 2014, or Sunday, September 21, 2014, and he did not go to the jail that weekend. (Dkt. 107, at 11 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 42)). Drury instructed Detention Officer James Lowe (“Lowe”) on how to change Plaintiff's wound dressings while Drury was not on duty, and Lowe helped change the dressings when Drury was not on duty. (Dkt. 107-33 (Lowe Deposition), 18:9-24, 21:17-19; Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 79:15-24; Dkt. 105, at 4 (Board's Undisputed Fact No. 13)).[5] Plaintiff did not complain to Lowe about his bedsores or the medical treatment he was receiving at the jail. (Dkt. 107, at 10 (Drury's Undisputed Fact No. 33)). However, Plaintiff testified that on September 20th, he defecated on himself and remained in his soiled clothing until Drury returned on September 22nd, because the jailers refused to assist him with his bowel program or provide him with clean clothes. (Dkt. 112-1 (Plaintiff Deposition), 558:10-560:17).

         When Drury returned to work on September 22, 2014, he observed that the wounds on Plaintiff's hips and buttocks had worsened and opened. (Dkt. 120-8, at 8 (Nurse's Notes, dated Sept. 22, 2014); Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), 82:2-11). Plaintiff was transported to EOMC that day for treatment. Dkt. 107-31 (Drury Deposition), at 84:18-21). Later that day, Plaintiff was transferred from EOMC to Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he received anesthesia and surgical debridement of the necrotic tissue. (Dkt. 120-4 (Plaintiff Deposition), 561:19-562:25).

         Following the initiation of this lawsuit, Drury was terminated from his employment with LCDC for falsifying medical records as they pertained to Plaintiff. (Dkt. 120-7 (Donnie Edwards Deposition), 44:20-46:21). Specifically, Drury's notes pertaining to Plaintiff described treatment on dates after Plaintiff had already been transported to EOMC. (See Dkt. 120-8 (Nurse's Notes), at 8-9) (noting treatment of Plaintiff on Sept. 23-25, 2014).

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this case on September 8, 2015. (Dkt. 3). In the Complaint, Plaintiff asserts claims for (1) relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Drury and the Leflore County Detention Center Public Trust Board (“Board) for failure to provide medical treatment in violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; (2) relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Board for negligent training and supervision related to Plaintiff's serious medical needs, in violation of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; (3) relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Board for having a policy or engaging in a pattern and practice of conduct that led to the violation of Plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution; (4) relief pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 against the Board for denial of the disabled Plaintiff's ability to shower consistently, receive proper toilet facilities, and obtain proper medical treatment; and (5) relief under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, for discrimination Plaintiff suffered based on his disability. (Dkt. 3, ¶¶ 27-49).[6]

         Drury has now filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's claim against him. (Dkt. 107). Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition (Dkt. 120), and Drury filed a Reply (Dkt. 130). The Board has also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's claims against it. (Dkt. 105). Plaintiff filed a Response in opposition (Dkt. 112), and The Board filed a Reply (Dkt. 119). The Motions are fully briefed and ripe for review.


         Summary judgment is appropriate when “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). A dispute is genuine 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). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law.” Id. In making this determination, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255.

         However, a party opposing a motion for summary judgment may not simply allege there are disputed issues of fact; rather, the party must support its assertions by citing to the record or by showing the moving party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). See Cone v. Longmont United Hosp. Ass'n, 14 F.3d 526, 530 (10th Cir. 1994) (“Even though all doubts must be resolved in [the nonmovant's] favor, allegations alone will not defeat summary judgment.”) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986)). Moreover, “[i]n a response to a motion for summary judgment, a party cannot rely on ignorance of facts, on speculation, or on suspicion and may not escape summary judgment in the mere hope that something will turn up at trial.” Conaway v. Smith, 853 F.2d 789, 794 (10th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). Thus, the inquiry for this Court is “whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251-52.

         I. Motion of Drury

         In his Motion for Summary Judgment, Drury argues Plaintiff fails to establish a constitutional violation against him for denial of medical care. Drury further argues he is entitled to qualified immunity and Plaintiff may not recover punitive damages from him. In his Response, Plaintiff argues he suffered a constitutional deprivation because medical treatment was delayed. As a result of this delayed treatment, Drury is not entitled to qualified immunity and Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages.

         A. Eighth Amendment Violation - Denial of Medical Care

         1. Standard of Review

         42 U.S.C. § 1983 provides a claim for relief against state actors for violation of a plaintiff's constitutional rights. Becker v. Kroll, 494 F.3d 904, 914 (10th Cir. 2007). Under the Eighth Amendment, prisoners have a constitutional right to medical care, which is violated when doctors or prison officials are deliberately indifferent to a prisoner's serious medical needs. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103-04 (1976).[7] The Tenth Circuit recognizes two types of conduct amounting to deliberate indifference in the context of prisoner medical care. “First, a medical professional may fail to treat a serious medical condition properly.” Sealock v. Colorado, 218 F.3d 1205, 1211 (10th Cir. 2000). When this type of conduct is alleged, “the medical professional has available the defense that he was merely negligent in diagnosing or treating the medical condition, rather than deliberately indifferent.” Id. (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06). Second, prison officials may “prevent an inmate from receiving treatment or deny him access to medical personnel capable of evaluating the need for treatment.” Id. (citing Ramos v. Lamm, 639 F.2d 559, 575 (10th Cir. 1980)). A prison medical professional who serves solely “as a gatekeeper for other medical personnel capable of treating the condition” may be liable under this standard if he or she “delays or refuses to fulfill that gatekeeper role due to deliberate indifference.” Id.

         Deliberate indifference “involves both an objective and a subjective component.” Olsen v. Layton Hills Mall, 312 F.3d 1304, 1315 (10th Cir. 2002) (citing Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1209). To satisfy the objective component, “the alleged deprivation must be ‘sufficiently serious' to constitute a deprivation of constitutional dimension.” Self v. Crum, 439 F.3d 1227, 1230 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 834 (1994)). “A medical need is sufficiently serious ‘if it is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention.'” Sealock, 218 F.3d at 1209 (quoting Hunt v. Uphoff, 199 F.3d 1220, 1224 (10th Cir. 1999)). The question raised by the objective prong “is whether the alleged harm . . . is sufficiently serious . . ., rather than whether the symptoms displayed to the prison employee are sufficiently serious.” Mata v. Saiz, 427 F.3d 745, 753 (10th Cir. 2005).

         To satisfy the subjective component, there must be evidence that “the official ‘knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and [s]he must also draw the inference.'” Mata, 427 F.3d at 751 (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). The subjective component may be satisfied if the jury can “infer that a prison official had actual knowledge of the constitutionally infirm condition based solely on circumstantial evidence, such as the obviousness of the condition.” Tafoya v. Salazar, 516 F.3d 912, 916 (10th Cir. 2008) (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 842).

         Moreover, the subjective component may be satisfied if the defendant's “delay in providing medical treatment caused either unnecessary pain or a worsening of [his] condition. Even a brief delay may be unconstitutional.” Mata, 427 F.3d at 755. However, the “‘negligent failure to provide adequate medical care, even one constituting medical malpractice, does not give rise to a constitutional violation.'” Self, 439 F.3d at 1233 (quoting Perkins v. Kan. Dep't of Corr., 165 F.3d 803, 811 (10th Cir. 1999)).

         2. Objective Inquiry - Serious Medical Condition

         Here, Plaintiff cannot satisfy the objective component required to prove Drury committed an Eighth Amendment violation. Plaintiff's allegations that a constitutional violation occurred focus on the bedsores that developed on his hips and buttocks while at LCDC. Prior to September 16, 2014, Plaintiff had no noticeable bedsores on his hips or buttocks that required treatment. (See Dkt. 107-6 (Dr. Stone Deposition), 135:7-10, 136:20-137:2). When the closed, reddened sore appeared on Plaintiff's hip on September 16, 2014, the condition did not warrant sending Plaintiff to the hospital or even calling a doctor, according to Plaintiff's own expert, Dr. Stone. (See Id. at 137:3-19). Nor did the hip wound or the ...

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