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Andrews v. Wayne County

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

February 8, 2018

JACOB ANDREWS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Angela White, Deceased, Plaintiff,
WAYNE COUNTY; SHERIFF BENNY N. NAPOLEON, Wayne County Sheriff; and DR. MOUHANAD HAMMAMI, Director of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness for Wayne County, Defendants.

          Mona K. Majzoub United States Magistrate Judge



         Two days after Angela White was taken into custody at the Wayne County Jail, she died from an overdose of medication that she had been allowed to keep with her by the jail's staff. Plaintiff Jacob Andrews, Ms. White's appointed personal representative, now sues Defendants Wayne County, Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon, and Dr. Mouhanad Hammami under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that their deliberate indifference to Ms. White's medical needs violated her rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

         Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, [1]which seeks dismissal of the two individual Defendants Napoleon and Hammami. Plaintiff has sued Defendants Napoleon and Hammami in their official capacities only, and because Plaintiff has also sued Wayne County directly, his claims against the individuals are duplicative of his claims against Wayne County. For that reason, the Court will grant the individual Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and dismiss Defendants Napoleon and Hammami from the action.

         I. Background

         A. Plaintiffs Factual Allegations

         Plaintiff Jacob Andrews is the personal representative of Ms. White's estate, having been appointed as such by the Wayne County Probate Court, and he brings this action in that capacity. (ECF No. 1, Compl. ¶ 3.) He alleges that Defendant Benny Napoleon was at all relevant times the Sheriff of Defendant Wayne County, and that Defendant Mouhanad Hammami was at all relevant times the Director of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness, Chief Medical Officer for Wayne County, and the Health Services Director for the Wayne County Jail. (Id. ¶¶ 5-6.)

         According to the Complaint, Ms. White was admitted on May 14, 2014 to the Henry Ford Kingswood adult psychiatric hospital for anxiety and depression. She was placed on suicide precautions there, and stayed on an inpatient basis for three days and two nights. (Id. ¶ 7.) A few days later, from May 21 to May 28, 2014, Ms. White was hospitalized at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan “for a variety of conditions including headache, depression, epilepsy evaluation and psychiatric evaluation.” (Id. ¶ 8.) During that hospital stay, Plaintiff alleges, Ms. White received a “nerve block” as treatment for a type of headache referred to in the medical records as “trigeminal autonomic cephalgia[].” (Id.)

         On June 5, 2014, a little over a week after she was discharged from the University of Michigan Hospital, the Complaint alleges that Ms. White “was arrested in Canton Township, Michigan for allegedly attacking her boyfriend (Plaintiff) with scissors, and she was charged with domestic violence.” (Id. ¶ 9.) At that time, she was taking a variety of medications that she had been prescribed during her two recent hospital stays. (Id. ¶ 9.) Ms. White was arraigned the following day in the 35th District Court in Plymouth, Michigan on a felony charge of assault with a dangerous weapon. (Id. ¶ 10.) The same day, while in the custody of the Canton Police Department, she was taken to a hospital for evaluation of chest pains and a headache. There, she was “treated with Reglan, Benadryl, Totadol and Ativan. She was ordered to continue to use her medication upon her return to jail.” (Id. ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff alleges that later in the same day-June 6, 2014-Ms. White was transported along with her personal belongings (including her medications) from the Canton Police Department to the Wayne County Jail. (Id. ¶ 12.) At approximately 9:20 that night, Ms. White was evaluated by medical personnel at the Wayne County Jail, who assigned her in the early hours of June 7, 2014 “to the Division I Infirmary cell #2, bed #1.” (Id. ¶ 13.) At some time on June 7, Ms. White took a large overdose of the prescription drug Verapamil, which depressed her blood pressure, induced cardiac arrest, and ultimately resulted in her death on June 8, 2014. (Id. ¶ 18.)

         Plaintiff further alleges that on and prior to June 7, 2014, Defendants maintained a formal policy and procedure allowing Wayne County Jail inmates to self-administer medications in certain circumstances. More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants, acknowledging “that many persons in the jail were on a regular regimen of prescribed medications, ” created a policy and procedure that contemplated “two classes of medications. The first class of medications had to be administered to an inmate by the jail nurse one dose at a time; the second class of medications were those that an inmate could have in the cell and could self medicate.” (Compl. ¶ 14.) A copy of a Wayne County Jail Health Services Division Policy Directive entitled “Medication- Self Medication Program” is attached as the sole exhibit to the Complaint. (Compl. Ex. 1, Policy Directive.)

         It was pursuant to this policy, according to the Complaint, that Defendants withheld various medications from Ms. White's possession but still allowed her to take Verapamil with her to her cell. That drug, an anti-hypertensive that is taken to reduce elevated blood pressure, was not on the policy's list of drugs that could only be administered to inmates by nurses. That list did, however, include the drug Catapres, which Plaintiff alleges serves the same blood-pressure reduction function as Verapamil. (Compl. ¶¶ 16-17, 19; Policy Directive at Pg ID 15.)

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action on May 26, 2017. (ECF No. 1, Compl.) Pled under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Complaint asserts that by including Catapres in the list of restricted drugs in the Self Medication Program but failing to include Verapamil, Defendants created an official policy or procedure that enabled and facilitated overdoses on dangerous prescription medications by inmates with emotional or mental health problems. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 20-21.) The Complaint further alleges that Defendants were on notice of the danger of allowing an inmate to self-administer Verapamil because they included Catapres on the list, and were also on notice of the ...

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