Crymes v. City of Montgomery, Alabama et al
OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 9/16/2011. (br, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION
CITY OF MONTGOMERY, et al., )
CIVIL ACTION NO.
Plaintiff Wilbur Crymes asserts federal and state-law
claims arising out of his seven-day detention at the
constitutional claims under the eighth and fourteenth
negligence claims under Alabama law.
In addition to the
City of Montgomery, the defendants are the jail’s former
administrator, A.J. Hardy, and assistant administrator,
Count One of the complaint alleges that
amendments by acting with deliberate indifference to
Crymes’s medical needs; Count Two charges negligence
medical care; and Count Three seeks to impose liability
on the defendants for their alleged failure to train or
supervise their employees adequately. This court has
original jurisdiction over the federal claims, 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1343, and supplemental jurisdiction over the
state-law claims, 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
judgment is warranted if, after viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the non-moving party and
drawing all reasonable inferences in their favor, “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); see also
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Finding this standard met, the
court will grant the motions.
roadblock set up by Montgomery police officers.
officers placed Crymes under arrest after a background
check revealed that he had outstanding warrants.
intake, Crymes was asked a number of questions about his
medical health and condition, and a guard recorded his
answers on an intake and screening form.
While the form,
along with other intake records, did not indicate that
Crymes has any medical condition, disease, or history of
medical problems the officers would need to be aware of,
Crymes did tell the guard that he has hemophilia.
booked, Crymes was put in the “drunk tank,” where he was
made to stand for about five hours.
In the meantime,
Crymes began to have stiffness in his knee and started
Crymes did not say much to the jail
* In his response to the defendants’ summary-judgment
motion and for the first time, Crymes’s attorney contends
that Crymes’s knee pain began before having to stand in
guards or nursing staff about any knee stiffness or pain
he experienced while in the lock-up; he said only that he
“needed to go to the emergency room.” Crymes Depo. (Doc.
transferred to another area of the jail where he was able
to sit comfortably.
The next day, Crymes appeared in municipal court and
was convicted and sentenced to seven-days imprisonment.
Over the next week, Crymes repeated his request to go to
the hospital and was temporarily placed in the “special
need” observation unit (what Crymes calls the “suicide
the drunk tank. He says that, “During the arrest,
[Crymes] sustained a contusion to his knee,” which caused
him “to bleed internally and swell in the area
surrounding his knee.” Pl. Resp. Br. (Doc. No. 22, at
1). Crymes’s attorney later made similar allegations at
However, there is no sworn testimony
supporting this contention, and Crymes points to nothing
in the record describing any contusion he might have
sustained during his arrest.
This sort of showing is
required at summary judgment, see Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(1). Given the lack of evidence in the record on
this fact, the court does not credit Crymes’s assertion.
unspecified “medical needs.”
Id. at 35; Hardy Depo.
(Doc. No. 22, Ex. 2, at 22-23).
The record is unclear as
to which medical issue led to the move, but Crymes knew
the transfer was done to help him and was an indication
that he “finally got through to one of the officers.”
Crymes Depo. (Doc. No. 19, Ex. 2, at 38).
Though it was
documenting the fact that Crymes had been placed in the
It is undisputed that Crymes did not
Following his release, Crymes filed this lawsuit.
A. Deliberate Indifference (Count One): Count One of
deliberately indifferent to Crymes’s medical needs while
he was detained at the jail.
Crymes does not specify
whether this claims arise from his pre-trial detention
(in which case the due process clause of the fourteenth
amendment covers his claim) or from the time spent in the
jail following the judge giving him a sentence (in which
case the eighth amendment’s prohibition on cruel and
unusual punishments would cover his claim) or both.
Ancata v. Prison Health Servs., Inc., 769 F.2d 700, 703
& n.5 (11th Cir. 1985).
This ambiguity need not be
resolved, however, because the court treats the eighth
involving the denial of a basic
need like medical care.
Marsh v. Butler County, 268 F.3d 1014, 1024 n.5 (11th
indifference to prisoners’ serious medical needs.
v. DeKalb County, 774 F.2d 1567, 1572-74 (11th Cir.
To prevail, Crymes “must satisfy both an objective
Bozeman v. Orum, 422 F.3d
and a subjective inquiry.”
1265, 1272 (11th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation marks and
First, he “must prove an objectively
serious medical need,” id., that “poses a serious risk of
Taylor v. Adams, 221
serious harm” if left unattended.
F.3d 1254, 1258 (11th Cir. 2000).
A “serious medical
need is considered one that has been diagnosed by a
obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the
necessity for a doctor's attention.”
Farrow v. West, 320
F.3d 1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Second, as a subjective
matter, Crymes must prove that the prison official acted
requires knowledge of the risk and disregard of the
inference that such a risk could harm an inmate or
Brown v. Johnson, 387 F.3d 1344, 1351 (11th
Once an officer has knowledge of a serious
medical risk, a finding of deliberate indifference can
come in many ways: it “may be established by a showing of
grossly inadequate care as well as by a decision to take
an easier but less efficacious course of treatment”;
deliberate indifference can occur when “the need for
treatment is obvious” but the medical care provided “is
so cursory as to amount to no treatment at all”; and even
where “medical care is ultimately provided, a prison
official may nonetheless act with deliberate indifference
by delaying the treatment of serious medical needs, even
McElligott v. Foley, 182 F.3d
for a period of hours.”
1248, 1255 (11th Cir. 1999).
For several reasons, Crymes
cannot meet this standard.
First, there is nothing in the record substantiating
Crymes’s contention that he had an objectively serious
hemophilia is a serous medical condition. Hemophilia, a
excessive bleeding (both internally, from a bruise or
fall, and externally, from a cut or scrape), and “can
Christopher v. Cutter Labs., 53 F.3d 1184, 1187 (11th
The problem for Crymes, however, is that a
serious medical need.
While Crymes has a serious medical
condition, he has not submitted any evidence that could
show he experienced an objectively serious need during
his time in the city’s lockup.
Taking the facts in the light most favorable to
Crymes, the court assumes that Crymes told the officers
about his hemophilia; that he experienced knee stiffness
complained that he needed an emergency room while in the
drunk tank; and that he told nurses about his desire to
go to the hospital throughout the remainder of detention.
In addition, the parties dispute why Crymes never filled
problems are given if they have a medical complaint,
illness, or need.
The defendants fault Crymes for not
filling out a sick slip and suggest that this failure
dooms his claim.
Crymes says that he was never given a
sick slip to fill out in spite of his complaints.
the facts in his favor, the court assumes that Crymes was
never given a sick slip.
Nonetheless, Crymes’s claims fail because he has not
adduced evidence demonstrating that he had a specific
need related to his hemophiliac condition while detained
by the city.
For instance, there is nothing in the
record, either through affidavit, exhibit, or deposition,
that would demonstrate the extent of Crymes’s pain or
that would reveal a serious medical need (one that a lay
person would recognize) during his time in the lock-up.
Crymes has submitted no evidence describing the extent of
his hemophilia (the severity of which can vary), nor has
he provided the court with medical evidence (such as a
physician) that would document harm caused to him from
experienced some stiffness and pain in the drunk tank,
nothing in the record demonstrates the extent of this
pain relative to the knee pain he experiences regularly
(which is described in the record) or even whether this
pain was attributable to standing for a few hours, his
hemophilia, or both.
Such evidence is necessary to prove
litigation, at summary judgment this lack of evidence is
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 248-49 (1986); cf. Walker v. Peters,233 F.3d 494
(7th Cir. 2000) (explaining that when a plaintiff puts
forth “no evidence that he was injured by the defendants’
refusal on some occasions to provide him” with medication
to treat his hemophilia, “he cannot make out a claim of
deliberate indifference relating to his treatment as a
But, even assuming these that evidentiary gaps had
been filled and that Crymes were able to demonstrate a
condition, Crymes has not met his burden of satisfying
Administrator Hardy was not in the jail at the time and
Assistant Administrator Hopkins signed off on Crymes’s
transfer into the observation unit, there is no evidence
establishing a further risk that she both knew of and the
during oral argument that there is no evidence in the
record demonstrating that either Hardy or Hopkins had any
knowledge of Crymes’s hemophilia, medical requests, or
knee stiffness and pain.
And, even assuming other jail
guards or nurses knew of Crymes’s condition and need,
there is no respondeat superior for a § 1983 claim.
Thomas v. Bryant, 614 F.3d 1288, 1315 n.24 (11th Cir.
Finally, to be liable, the city must have had a
deliberately indifferent to objectively serious medical
Monell v. New York Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 436
U.S. 658 (1978).
Given that Crymes has not proven a
requirement for demonstrating municipal liability, the
See id. at 694.
city cannot be liable either.
constitutional violation, there is nothing in the record
practice or custom (for example, of officers routinely
ignoring inmates requests for help with the imprimatur of
higher-ups like Hardy and Hopkins) that could make the
city liable here.
For these reasons, summary judgment
defendants on Count One.
complaint alleges that, even if the defendants were not
deliberately indifferent to Crymes’s medical needs, they
were negligent in a manner that makes them liable in tort
under Alabama law.
The defendants raise various forms of
state-law immunity in response.
The court, however, need
Instead, the same evidentiary failings above
apply with equal force here.
As the court mentioned,
there is no evidence of damage or injury in the record
flowing from the defendants’ conduct.
Unlike an action
pursued under § 1983, where nominal damages are permitted
without a showing of quantifiable injury, see, e.g.,
Amnesty Int’l v. Battle, 559 F.3d 1170, 1177 (11th Cir.
2009), a showing of injury and damages caused by the
defendant is essential to proving a negligence tort under
See Griffin v. Unocal Corp., 990 So.2d 291,
manifest, present injury before a plaintiff may recover
in tort.’” (quoting Southern Bakeries, Inc. v. Knipp, 852
Aggregates Southeast, Inc., 952 So.2d 330, 335 (Ala.
2006) (“Damages are an essential element of the tort of
[P]roof of damage [is] an essential part of
the plaintiff's case.” (internal quotation marks and
Without any showing of injury or
damage, Crymes cannot prevail, and summary judgment is
due to the defendants on the negligence claim.
C. Failure to Train and Supervise (Count Three):
Given the foregoing, the court can dispose of Count Three
Without specifying whether this claim
Crymes argues that the defendants are liable for their
constitution or Alabama tort law upon which this sort of
claim could rest, the court holds that Crymes cannot
prove the defendants are liable for any failures related
to training and supervision.
See Connick v. Thompson,
131 S. Ct. 1350, 1359-60 (2011) (describing the showing
necessary to find a city liable for a failure to train
claim under § 1983); Bedsole v. Clark, 33 So.3d 9, 15-16
(Ala. Civ. App. 2009) (discussing standards for failure
judgment for the defendants is proper on this count as
For the foregoing reasons, the defendants’ motions
for summary judgment will be granted.
judgment will be entered.
DONE, this the 16th day of September, 2011.
/s/ Myron H. Thompson
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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