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McCain v. St. Clair County

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

July 27, 2017

ST. CLAIR COUNTY, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff Eugene McCain brings this action for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming violations of his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments stemming from two seizures he suffered while awaiting trial in the St. Clair County Jail. (See Dkt. # 4.) Before the court are two motions for summary judgment: one (Dkt. # 63) filed by Defendants Kimberly King, Brandy Scheimen, and Amanda Bishop, all licensed practical nurses (“LPNs”) (collectively “Defendant LPNs”); the other (Dkt. # 65) filed by Defendants Sergeant Richard Olejnik, Deputy Matthew Methany, Deputy Brandon Rogers, Deputy Brook Schmidt, Deputy Ryan Kacafirek, and Deputy Richard Kaminsky (collectively “Defendant Officers”) and St. Clair County.[1] Defendant LPNs' motion is fully briefed. (Dkt. ## 63, 71, 75.) Plaintiff filed a response (Dkt. # 72) to the motion by Defendant Officers and St. Clair County, to which those defendants replied (Dkt. # 77). The parties then stipulated to allowing Plaintiff to file an amended response, which he did on June 1, 2017. (Dkt. # 80.) Defendants have declined to reply to the amended response. After reviewing the extensive briefing, and with the benefit of a hearing held July 12, 2017, the court will grant both motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. On Saturday, March 2, 2013, Plaintiff was arrested and brought to the St. Clair County Jail for booking. He was booked at 10:25 p.m. (Dkt. # 71-14.) Defendant Sheriff's Deputy Methany did the intake and filled out a medical screening form for Plaintiff. (Dkt. # 71-1, Pg. ID 1180.) On that form, Deputy Methany noted that Plaintiff answered “yes” to questions regarding epilepsy and seizure disorder, noted that Plaintiff was taking Tegretol for the condition, and that he had last taken his medication at 4 p.m. that day. (Id. at Pg. ID 1181.) Plaintiff had his medication on him at the time he was arrested, but the arresting officer told him he would not be able to bring it into the jail, so he left it with his mother. (Dkt. # 65-2, Pg. ID 738-39.)

         Deputy Methany also indicated that Plaintiff's prescription was from “Family Pharmacy.” (Id.). In fact, Plaintiff did not have a prescription with Family Pharmacy- though had been filling a prescription for Tegretol at a pharmacy called “Blue Water Pharmacy” and had last filled a 30-day supply on January 25, 2013. (Dkt. # 65-46.)

         After filling out the intake form, Deputy Methany placed the form in a metal bin for the medical personnel to pick up. (Id. at Pg. ID 1185.) It was the regular practice of the jail nurses to go down to the assessment area multiple times per shift to pick up the medical screening forms from this basket. (Dkt. # 71-12, Pg. ID 1464; Dkt. # 71-3, Pg. ID 1261.) The nurse would then attempt to verify the medication by contacting the listed pharmacy. If the pharmacy verifies the prescription, the nurse is allowed to order the medications. (Dkt. # 65, Pg. ID 684; Dkt. # 80, Pg. ID 1820.) Otherwise, the nurses must consult with the doctor on call to order prescriptions, as the nurses are not allowed to prescribe medication.

         Defendant Nurse Bishop was on duty at the time Plaintiff was booked, working the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. Nurse Bishop cannot recall the events of March 2, 2013 due to the passage of time. (Dkt. # 65, Pg. ID 683; Dkt. # 80, Pg. ID 1820.) Nobody involved recalls when the medical screening form was picked up, and Nurse Bishop could not recall if she had ever seen the form or spoken to Plaintiff (Dkt. # 65-24, Pg. ID 915-17). Nurse Bishop did not order Plaintiff's medication before the end of her shift.

         There is no evidence that Plaintiff made any follow-up requests for medication, submitted a medical request or “kite, ” or filed a grievance over not receiving his medication after being placed in a holding cell. (Dkt. # 65, Pg. ID 686; Dkt. # 80, Pg. ID 1821.) There is no evidence in the record as to which nurse was on duty for the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift the following day, March 3. Nurse Bishop again worked the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift from March 3 to March 4. Plaintiff's medication was not ordered on March 3, and the record is silent as to whether anyone attempted to verify his medication.

         At approximately 5:30 in the morning of Monday, March 4, 2013, Plaintiff had a seizure while in “9 cell[, ]” which he shared with several other inmates. (See Dkt. # 65-22.) A video of the incident depicts the activities in the cell prior to and during the seizure. The video shows breakfast being served to the inmates, Plaintiff taking food from another inmate's breakfast tray, and then laying down along with the other inmates to return to sleep. Plaintiff then begins to seize, and once the other inmates notice they begin banging on the glass wall of the cell. This occurred at approximately 6:25 or 6:30 a.m.[2]

         As shown on the video and uncontested by the parties, Defendant Deputy Rogers was the first to respond, arriving at the cell approximately 48 seconds after the inmates began to summon help. Defendants Deputy Kaminsky, Deputy Methany, Deputy Kacifirek, and Sgt. Olejnik arrived shortly after to provide assistance, as did Sgt. Labeau, who is not a defendant. (Dkt. # 65-22, Pg. ID 985.) The cellmates were removed from the cell less than 30 seconds later and Defendant Nurse Bishop, summoned by Deputy Rogers, appeared slightly more than one minute after Deputy Rogers and provides first aid to Plaintiff. The deputies assisted with securing Plaintiff, who was flailing his arms and legs and, when instructed by Nurse Bishop, turned Plaintiff on his left side. (See Dkt. # 65-22.)

         After Nurse Bishop determined that Plaintiff was able to move on his own, open his eyes, and understand his surroundings, she ordered that Plaintiff be placed on “30 minute rounds” in “5 cell, ” which is a glass-walled cell near the officer's desk in the assessment area. (Dkt. ## 65-25, 65-49.) Nurse Bishop did not check McCain's vitals, consult a doctor, or do anything to expedite the process of getting Plaintiff's anti-seizure medication. Someone-at least some evidence suggests that it was Nurse Bishop- then ordered the medication, and apparently signed the relevant authorization as Dr. Stromberg, the jail doctor, who was then on vacation and had not been consulted. (Dkt. # 71-4, Pg. ID 1309.)

         An inmate placed on 30-minute rounds is visually observed regularly by the corrections deputies to monitor for any distress. (Dkt. # 65-39.) Between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Plaintiff was observed approximately every 30 minutes by either Deputy Shane Walker or Deputy Jonathan Lembas, who are no longer Defendants in this action. (Dkt. # 65-50.)

         Advanced Care Pharmacy opened the prescription request at approximately 8:54 a.m. that morning, and filled Plaintiff's Tegretol prescription at 10:17 a.m., along with several other inmate prescriptions. (See Dkt. # 65-37, Pg. ID 1027, 1029.) The medication was delivered to the jail at approximately 11:05 a.m. on March 4, 2014. (Id. at Pg. ID 1029.) The next medication pass in the assessment area was to take place around 3:00 p.m. (Dkt. # 65-26, Pg. ID 934.)

         Plaintiff was arraigned by video conferencing between 1:43 and 1:46 p.m. He was informed he could face up to life in prison as a repeat offender, and his bond was set at $15, 000. While making his 30-minute rounds at 2 p.m., [3] Deputy Walker observed Plaintiff sitting by the phones next to 5 Cell. (Dkt. # 65-23, Pg. ID 902; Dkt. # 65-20, Pg. ID 883-84.) Deputy Walker asked Plaintiff if he was okay, and Plaintiff responded “yes, my bond is just a lot[.]” (Dkt. # 65-23, Pg. ID 902.) Deputy Walker then returned to assessment office work area. (Id.)

         After Deputy Walker returned to the officer work area, he noticed Plaintiff stand up near the phone. Plaintiff “did not appear to be acting normal” and looked like “he was having a tough time maintaining his balance[.]” (Dkt. # 65-23.) Deputy Walker then advised Plaintiff to have a seat in the chairs in a front of a television used by inmates in a carpeted portion of the assessment area, which Plaintiff did. (Id.) Walker left the officer workstation to attend to Plaintiff. (Id.)

         Deputy Walker then noticed that Plaintiff was sweating profusely and not responding to questions, so he summoned medical staff. (Id.) Plaintiff was also making involuntary movements of his arms and head, and emitting a strange scream. (Id.) Deputy Walker then grabbed Plaintiff's shirt and supported his head. (Id.) Video capturing part of the incident shows that that a second officer arrived less than a minute after Deputy Walker left the work station, with Defendant Sgt. Olejnik arriving 23 seconds later. Defendants Nurse Scheiman and Nurse King arrive slightly more than 2 minutes after Deputy Walker first left the workstation to attend to Plaintiff, approximately 2:04 p.m. (Id.)

         Sgt. Olejnik, Deputy Zuehlke, and Lt. Biondo all assisted to try to control Plaintiff, who was seizing and thrashing about. (Dkt. # 65-23.) According to the relevant nurse notes, Nurse Schieman tried without success to bring Plaintiff out of his seizure using ammonia, and was unable to take his vitals because of his violent thrashing. (Dkt. # 65-25.) Nurse Schieman decided that Plaintiff should be transported to the hospital by ambulance, and one arrived at the jail at 2:15 p.m. (Dkt. # 65-23.) The deputies helped Tri Hospital EMS personnel place Plaintiff on a stretcher, and he was transported to the hospital. (Dkt. # 66-51.)

         Plaintiff was then diagnosed with a subarachnoid bleed in his brain. He was hospitalized for a few weeks, lapsed into a coma, had surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain, experienced renal failure, and underwent additional surgery on his arm for compartment syndrome. (Dkt. # 65, Pg. ID 692-93; DKt. # 80, Pg. ID 1822-23.)

         II. STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper “if the movant shows that 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). “In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Sagan v. United States, 342 F.3d 493, 497 (6th Cir. 2003). The movant has the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine dispute as to a material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). “[T]hat burden may be discharged by showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Bennett v. City of Eastpointe, 410 F.3d 810, 817 (6th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks ...

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