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Spalding v. Eaton County

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

August 30, 2019

Kindi Spalding, Plaintiff,
Eaton County, et al., Defendants.



         This is a civil rights action brought on behalf of Jessica Spalding who tragically died on August 14, 2015, while in custody at the Ingham County Jail. Ms. Spaulding had been arrested on August 11 and lodged at the Eaton County Jail. She was eventually transferred to the Ingham County Jail with a brief stay at the Lansing City Jail. Plaintiff's personal representative initiated this action against Eaton County, Ingham County, the City of Lansing, and 59 individuals.

         This matter is before the Court on certain City of Lansing Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 7), [1] certain Eaton County Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 13), [2] and Defendants Patrick Crane and Carol Hill's Motion for Summary Judgment, (ECF No. 20). For the reasons discussed herein, the motions to dismiss (ECF No. 7 and 13) will be granted and the motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 20) will be denied.[3]


         Kindi Spalding, with the assistance of counsel, initiated the present action in her capacity as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Jessica Spalding. (ECF No. 1). In her complaint, Plaintiff alleges the following.

         On August 11, 2015, Jessica Spalding was arrested and transported to the Eaton County Jail. Upon admission to the jail, Ms. Spalding acknowledged to jail personnel that she had recently used heroin. By the time she was admitted to the jail, however, Ms. Spalding was “withdrawing from heroin use” and exhibited an elevated temperature as well as “an infected swollen left hand from intravenous heroin use.” Despite exhibiting “readily apparent cognitive, physical, emotional, psychological, behavioral, gastrointestinal, and mood symptoms” of heroin withdrawal, she was not provided medical treatment. The following afternoon, Ms. Spalding “was transferred to the Lansing City Jail” regarding a separate matter.

         Upon admission to the Lansing City Jail, Ms. Spalding acknowledged using heroin recently. She further reported that her hand was “hurting” and that she was experiencing “a really high fever.” Ms. Spalding later requested to be transported to a hospital for treatment, but this request was denied. Soon thereafter, she began vomiting and experiencing diarrhea. Between 9:08 p.m. on August 12, 2015, and 10:14 a.m. on August 13, 2015, Ms. Spalding vomited and/or experienced diarrhea at least 26 times. Despite exhibiting these and other symptoms of her “ongoing medical emergency, ” Plaintiff received no medical care.

         On the afternoon of August 13, 2015, Ms. Spalding was transferred to the Ingham County Jail. Officials at the Ingham County Jail were informed of Ms. Spalding's heroin use, hand injury, and “otherwise made aware of [Ms. Spalding's] ongoing medical emergency.” She was, nevertheless, not provided any medical care. In the early morning hours of August 14, 2015, a nurse examined Ms. Spalding and noted the presence of “needle marks” that “required immediate attention.” The nurse further observed that Ms. Spalding was tachycardic and “withdrawing from heroin.” The nurse, however, did not provide Ms. Spalding with any medical treatment, but instead placed Ms. Spalding on the jail's opiate withdrawal monitoring protocol and “sent her back to her cell.”

         By the morning of August 14, 2015, Ms. Spalding was “vomiting and constantly experiencing fecal incontinence” and was unable to eat breakfast. Jail personnel still did not provide Ms. Spalding with medical treatment, but instead instructed her cellmate to “move [Ms. Spalding's] mattress to the floor near the toilet so that she would vomit and defecate less on the floor.” Jail personnel brought Ms. Spalding a “liquid lunch” which she was unable to eat. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Spalding experienced another episode of fecal incontinence after which she was transported “to the medical post.” Ms. Spalding was examined by two medical professionals who, despite observing that Ms. Spalding was experiencing a medical emergency, provided her with “no medical treatment.” Ms. Spalding was informed that a nurse would check on her later, but that she should return to her cell in the meantime.

         At approximately, 5:45 p.m., a deputy observed Ms. Spalding “laying on the floor of her cell surrounded by uneaten containers of food which were delivered to her by jail-mates throughout the day.” Despite knowing that Ms. Spalding was in “very bad shape, ” this deputy did not secure medical treatment for her, but instead merely instructed her “to consume the liquid food in order to regain strength.” At approximately 7:00 p.m., other inmates began hearing “strange noises” emanating from Ms. Spalding's cell. At approximately 7:31 p.m., a deputy discovered Ms. Spalding “unresponsive and laying face down on her mattress which was still on the floor of her cell with vomit encompassing her face.” Medical personnel were immediately summoned and efforts were undertaken to revive her. These efforts were unsuccessful, however, and Ms. Spalding was pronounced dead at 8:25 p.m.

         With respect to the individual defendants, Plaintiff alleges deliberate indifference to Jessica Spalding's serious medical needs. As for the municipal defendants, Plaintiff alleges a failure to train and supervise. A number of the individual defendants have now moved for relief and Plaintiff has responded thereto.


         I. Motions to Dismiss (ECF No. 7 and 13)

         The following defendants move for relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that Plaintiff's allegations fail to state a claim on which relief may be granted: (1) Katherine Diehl; (2) Rodney Anderson; (3) Jason Davis; (4) Kristin Hudson; (5) Rebecca Kopf; (6) Lorrie Ridenour; (7) Damon Sherrill; (8) Ryan Wilcox; ...

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