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Sears v. County of Saginaw

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

October 31, 2016

TELLIS SEARS, Plaintiff,


          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Tellis Sears initiated this action against Defendant County of Saginaw by filing his complaint on November 19, 2015. Compl., ECF No. 1. Plaintiff Sears alleges that Defendant showed deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment by failing to treat an open wound on his right scrotum, perineum, and thigh region while he was incarcerated at the Saginaw County Jail. Id. Sears argues that this injury was the result of Defendant County of Saginaw's unlawful policy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Monell v. Department of Social Services of New York, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Id.

         On August 15, 2016, Defendant County of Saginaw moved for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim. See Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 37. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion will be granted.


         Plaintiff Tellis Sears is a resident of Saginaw, Michigan. See Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant County of Saginaw is a governmental entity within the State of Michigan that exercises supervising and governmental authority over the Saginaw County Jail (the “Jail”). Id. at ¶ 2. The Jail contracts with Corizon Healthcare Systems for the provision of jail medical services. See Geda Dep 3-4, ECF No. 45 Ex. 1. Under the contract, at least two nurses are available at the Jail at all times. Id. at 4-6. However, the facility medical provider and physician, Dr. Dennis M. Lloyd, D.O., is generally only present at the Jail on Fridays. Id. at 5-6. Registered Nurse Jeremy Geda testified that the Jail nurses are required to call Dr. Lloyd for any medical administration, including over the counter medicines. Id. at 10. Dr. Lloyd is always available by telephone on the days that he is not present at the Jail. Id. at 11.


         On October 14, 2014 Plaintiff Tellis Sears was taken into the custody of the Saginaw County Jail after being charged with violating his probation, where he remained to await sentencing. See Compl. ¶ 5; Sears Dep. 13, ECF No. 37 Ex. D. At the time of his intake Sears did not have any serious or otherwise notable medical issues. See Jail Med. Rec. 001-003, ECF No. 37 Ex. B; Sears Dep. 13. Sears was placed in a cell that slept up to 12 inmates that included a toilet, sink, and shower. See Sears Dep. 41.

         On October 19, 2014 Plaintiff informed jail medical staff that he had been experiencing constipation for a week. See Jail Med. Rec. 008. As a result, he was examined by Registered Nurse Jason Rickett. Id. Nurse Ricket then called Dr. Lloyd, who prescribed Plaintiff one bottle of magnesium citrate. See Lloyd Aff. Ex. A, ECF No. 37 Ex. C.


         Plaintiff Sears did not report any further medical issues to the Jail staff until mid-November. In his deposition, Sears testified that, after noticing a cyst on his upper right groin on November 16 or 17, 2014, he sent around 10 notes, or “kites”, to jail staff over the course of three days before receiving any medical attention. See Sears Dep. 15. This testimony is somewhat at odds with Sears's medical records, which reflect that Sears was examined on November 16, 2014 at around 2:45 PM by Nurse Ricket after he complained of lower abdominal pain. See Jail Med. Rec. 012-013. Sears testified that he showed Nurse Ricket the lump on his groin and that Nurse Ricket informed him he had a hernia. See Sears Dep. 16. There is no corroboration of this conversation in the medical records. Instead, the records simply reflect that Sears complained of lower abdominal pain, was prescribed 200 milligrams of Ibuprofen three times a day for seven days, and that Nurse Ricket recommended that Dr. Lloyd review Plaintiff Sears's file. See Jail Med. Rec. 012-013. Sears's medical chart reflects that, pursuant to the prescription, he received ibuprofen three times a day for the duration of his time in the Jail. 21; Lloyd Aff. Ex. A.

         Sears did not see another nurse until November 18, 2014 at around 1:30 PM when the cyst on his upper groin burst. See Jail Med. Rec. 014; Sears Dep. 16. Sears alleges that he received medical attention only after a guard noticed that his jumpsuit was covered in blood, after which he was taken to health services. Sears. Sears Dep. 37. The examining nurse, Nurse Kimberly Cheslik noted that Sears complained of a draining “hernia” on his right groin related to his ongoing abdominal pain. See Jail Med. Rec. 014; Cheslik Aff ¶¶ 3-6. Upon examining Plaintiff Sears, Nurse Cheslik observed that Sears had an abscess that was draining red, purulent fluid. Id. She also noted redness around the drainage site and approximately two to three centimeters of swelling, and that Sears was experiencing a temperature of 102.1º Fahrenheit. Id. After taking Sears's vital signs, Nurse Cheslik contacted Dr. Lloyd, who ordered Bactrim, Epsom salt soaks, and a wound culture. See Lloyd Aff. Ex. A. Sears was also instructed to continue taking “motrin;” a name that he appears to have been using interchangeably with the “ibuprofen” previously prescribed. Id. Finally, Sears was scheduled for an appointment with Dr. Lloyd for Friday, November 21, 2014. See Jail Med. Rec. 015.

         In the meantime, Sears was placed in a single cell to prevent the spread of any infection. See Sears. Dep. 20. Plaintiff Sears testified that, because his new cell did not have a shower and only had a sink, he had trouble using the Epsom salt soaks. See Sears Dep. 21-22. Nurse Jeremy Geda testified that in general patients were instructed to apply Epsom salt soaks using a warm, wet washcloth. See Geda Dep. 24-25. Sears attempted to use the salts in this way, but claimed that it was ineffective and that the wound continued to bleed. Sears Dep. 22.

         Plaintiff Sears underwent a follow-up examination by Nurse Cheslik two days later, on November 20, 2014 at 2:00 PM. See Jail. Med. Rec. 016. Nurse Cheslik's progress notes from that examination provide as follows:

Assessment complete on [right] inguinal abscess.[1] Contains moderate amount of red, thick drainage noted. Appears to have a noted tunnel present now.[2] Also noted a second open area. Scrotum is enlarged as well as reddened, edematous area on [right] anterior leg. Spoke to Dr. Lloyd who advised to send to ER for treatment.

Id. Dr. Lloyd corroborates this report in his affidavit, stating that upon receiving Nurse Chelsik's telephone call he ordered that Plaintiff Sears be taken to the emergency room as soon as possible because his condition was worsening. See Lloyd Aff. ¶ 10; Lloyd Aff. Ex. A. As a result, Sears was immediately taken to the St. Mary's of Michigan Hospital emergency room. See St. Mary's Med. Rec. 001, ECF No. 37 Ex. F.

         Upon arriving, Sears reported that he was experiencing fever, chills, abdominal pain, and constipation. Id. ...

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