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Richmond v. Huq

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 20, 2017

Melisa Richmond, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Rubab Huq, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued: July 28, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Ann Arbor. No. 5:14-cv-14892-John Corbett O'Meara, District Judge.

          Kenneth D. Finegood, KENNETH D. FINEGOOD, PLC, Southfield, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Davidde A. Stella, WAYNE COUNTY CORPORATION COUNSEL, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellees.

          Kenneth D. Finegood, KENNETH D. FINEGOOD, PLC, Southfield, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Davidde A. Stella, WAYNE COUNTY CORPORATION COUNSEL, Detroit, Michigan, for Appellees.

          Before: MOORE, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges

          OPINION

          BERNICE BOUIE DONALD, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Melisa Richmond was incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail from December 26, 2012 through February 13, 2013. While in the custody of the Jail, Richmond received treatment for a self-inflicted burn wound on her chest as well as for psychological needs. Richmond contends that she received constitutionally inadequate treatment for her burn wound, which necessitated skin grafting surgery shortly after her release from the Jail's custody. She also contends that she was unconstitutionally deprived of her psychiatric medication for over two weeks while in custody. The district court below granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the grounds that Richmond failed to show a constitutional violation. For the reasons described below, we REVERSE in part and AFFIRM in part the ruling of the district court.

         I.

         A.

         Plaintiff Melisa Richmond was arrested on December 25, 2012 in relation to an altercation at a family gathering in the City of Wyandotte, Michigan. After the police arrived at the scene, Lance Granata, Richmond's adult son, engaged in a verbal and physical altercation with the responding officers, who used a taser to subdue Mr. Granata. Witnessing this altercation, Richmond attempted to interfere with the arresting officers, at which point she was arrested and taken into custody. While in the police cruiser after her arrest but before her booking, Richmond suffered a self-inflicted burn wound as a result of setting her seatbelt on fire allegedly in an attempt to free herself and reunite with her son. After discovering and extinguishing the fire, police officers transported Richmond to Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital for treatment. At the hospital, Richmond was treated for first to second degree burns and discharged into police custody. The treating physician at the hospital prescribed Richmond silvadene cream to be applied twice a day.[1] Following her discharge that evening, Richmond was taken to the city jail. The next day, December 26, 2012, Richmond was arraigned and placed in the custody of the Jail, where she remained until being released on bond on February 13, 2013.

         On December 26, 2012, after her arraignment, Richmond was screened for medical and mental health issues by a member of the Jail medical staff. The screener took note of Richmond's burn wound as well as her previous mental health history and designated that follow-up medical and mental health evaluations would be necessary. The same evening, Defendant-Appellee Nurse Shevon Fowler examined Richmond, changed her wound dressing, referred her to a psychiatric social worker, and paged the on-call doctor, who in turn ordered once daily, rather than twice daily, dressing changes and prescribed her Lortab for pain.[2] On December 27, Richmond received two doses of Lortab and Defendant-Appellee Nurse Maxine Hawk changed her dressing. On December 28, Richmond received three doses of Lortab and was seen by Defendant-Appellee Dr. Rubab Huq, who prescribed Motrin and antibiotics to prevent infection, allegedly changed Richmond's dressing, and scheduled a follow-up medical visit for January 10, 2013. Also on December 28, Richmond received a mental health screening by Agron Myftari, a psychiatric social worker. During this screening, Richmond and Myftari discussed Richmond's prior history of bipolar disorder and her then-current medications which included Prozac and Xanax. After his screening, Myftari scheduled Richmond for a January 11, 2013 appointment with a psychiatrist. However, Myftari determined that Richmond was stable enough to wait for her psychiatric appointment without medication, and that if her condition changed, Richmond could be admitted to the mental health inpatient unit immediately.

         On December 29, Richmond received three doses of Lortab. However, she did not receive a complete dressing change because Defendant-Appellee Nurse Jacqueline Lonberger was allegedly intentionally aggressive while cleaning the wound, causing unnecessary pain. After advising Richmond that some pain was inevitable while cleaning a wound such as hers, Nurse Lonberger allowed Richmond to return to her cell without a dressing change, noting that Richmond did not present symptoms that would require a more drastic treatment, such as hospitalization. On December 30, Richmond received two doses of Lortab, and Nurse Lonberger changed her dressing. From December 31, 2012 through January 4, 2013, Richmond received Lortab twice a day and had her dressing changed by Nurse Hawk, with the exception of January 3, when Richmond missed her scheduled dressing change because she was in court.

         On January 5, Richmond received two doses of Lortab, and her dressing was changed by Defendant-Appellee Medical Assistant Danielle Allen. On January 6, Richmond received two doses of Lortab, but there is no indication that her dressing was changed. On January 7, Richmond received three doses of Lortab, and her dressing was again changed by Allen. That day, Richmond also saw Defendant-Appellee Patricia Rucker, another psychiatric social worker, regarding the Jail's failure to provide her psychiatric medication. Because Richmond stated that she had not yet been evaluated, Rucker sent Richmond down to the mental health unit for another screening. During this second mental health screening, a third social worker, Jim Gilfix, determined that Richmond was stable and could await her previously scheduled appointment without any psychiatric medication, even though he was aware that Richmond had been taking Prozac and Xanax prior to being taken into custody. On January 8, Richmond received three doses of Lortab, but there is no indication that her dressing was changed. On January 9, Richmond received three doses of Lortab, and Allen again changed her dressing. On January 10, Richmond received two doses of Lortab, but did not receive her daily dressing change because she was in court.

         On January 11, the day of Richmond's follow-up physical and psychiatric evaluations, she received two doses of Lortab. Prior to her evaluations, Richmond was triaged by Defendant-Appellee Nurse April Williams, who examined her wound. Immediately afterwards, Richmond was seen by Defendant-Appellees Nurse Practitioner Marie Shoulders and Dr. Thomas Clafton. Nurse Shoulders testified that she changed the dressing during the examination, but this change is not reflected in Richmond's chart. After this visit, Richmond was prescribed additional medication, including silvadene ointment to be used during the once-daily dressing changes. Nurse Shoulders testified that her post-visit notation would have clarified any confusion caused by a January 9 note, allegedly included in Richmond's chart by mistake, which required twice daily dressing changes. Later in the afternoon of January 11, Richmond was seen by psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Hinchman, who diagnosed Richmond with bipolar disorder, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Hinchman prescribed medication to treat Richmond's mental ailments, but she did not prescribe Xanax, Prozac, or their generic equivalents-the medication Richmond indicated she had been taking prior to her incarceration. Richmond makes no further claims regarding her psychiatric treatment after Dr. Hinchman's treatments.

         On January 12, Richmond received three doses of Lortab, and her dressing was changed. Richmond received three doses of Lortab on January 13 and two doses on January 14. After January 14, Richmond was switched to over the counter pain medication that could be kept in her cell. There is no indication that Richmond's dressing was changed on January 13, 14, 15, 17 or 18. Richmond's dressing was changed by the Jail staff on January 16, 19, 20, 21, and 22. The notes from January 21 indicate that Richmond was provided the supplies necessary to begin changing her dressing herself. On January 27, Richmond was again provided with the supplies necessary to change her dressing on her own. On January 29, Richmond visited the Jail clinic for a scheduled appointment. She was triaged by Defendant-Appellee Nurse Felecia Coleman before being seen by Nurse Shoulders. Nurse Shoulders noted Richmond's claims that she had not had the supplies to clean and dress her wound for the past week, but determined that the wound was in various stages of healing and was not infected. Nurse Shoulders explained to Richmond that she was to change the dressing twice daily and noted that Richmond expressed an understanding and willingness to comply with these instructions. Nurse Shoulders also testified that her practice would have been to change Richmond's dressing at this visit. There is no record of any further encounters between Richmond and the Jail's medical staff prior to Richmond's release on February 13.

         Richmond made a consistent effort to report problems with her treatment. The record contains her "kites" or grievances, which are dated January 7, 13, 19, 23, and 24. In each kite, Richmond noted how the medical care provided to her by the Jail fell short of what had been ordered at the hospital and/or by the Jail physicians. Specifically, Richmond noted that the medical staff failed to change her dressing, that she had been forced to wear an old and dirty dressing on her wound, that she feared her wound was infected, and that she did not receive medication prescribed by the Jail doctors. These kites conflict with some of the Jail's internal logs regarding the care Richmond received.

         After her release, Richmond saw Dr. Andrei Katychev regarding her wound, which he cleaned and examined. Dr. Katychev noted that parts of the wound had still not healed, but he did not note any sign of infection. Dr. Katychev referred Richmond to the Detroit Medical Center Burn Center. During her visit to the Burn Center, Richmond was informed that she would need a skin graft because a portion of her wound was not healing by itself. Richmond underwent the grafting procedure on February 22, 2013.

         B.

         Richmond filed the underlying suit on December 24, 2014, alleging violations of her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Her claims arise out of the medical treatment she received while in the Jail's custody from December 26, 2012 through February 13, 2013. Specifically, she alleges that the Jail's medical staff did not provide the prescribed number of dressing changes and doses of medication. She also contends that the Jail violated her Eighth Amendment right by not providing her psychiatric treatment or medication during the first three weeks that she was in custody and that Wayne ...


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