Sawyer v. Collins et al
ORDER granting defendants motion for summary judgment 144 as to Sawyers claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Count One of the First Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice; and Sawyers state law claims against defendants Collins and Sanders in Count 2 of the First Amended Complaint are DISMISSED without prejudice. The defendants' motion to exclude is DENIED.. Signed by Judge Kristi K. DuBose on 2/24/2014. (cmj)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JOHNNIE MAE SAWYER, as
Daughter and Administrator of the Estate of )
ARTHUR WATERS, deceased,
) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12-0020-KD-M
SYLVIA COLLINS, BOBBY SANDERS,
and JAMES HOOD,
This action is before the Court on the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
Sylvia Collins, Bobby Sanders and James Hood, defendants’ Motion to Exclude Causation
Testimony, and documents in support (Docs. 143-149); plaintiff Johnnie Mae Sawyer’s response
in opposition and documents in support (Docs. 159-161), and defendants’ reply (Doc. 162).
Upon consideration, and for the reasons set forth herein, the Motion for Summary Judgment is
GRANTED, in part, and the Motion to Exclude is DENIED.
On January 20, 2012, plaintiff Johnnie Mae Sawyer, the daughter of Arthur Waters,
deceased, filed a Complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Sylvia Collins and
Bobby Sanders, both jailers at the Perry County Jail, and against defendant Perry County Sheriff
James Hood. (Doc. 1) Sawyer alleged that defendants violated Waters’ constitutional right under
the Eighth Amendment to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they were
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs and failed to provide medical treatment
which resulted in Waters’ death while an inmate in the Perry County Jail.
On July 17, 2012, Sawyer filed her First Amended Complaint alleging Count One
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants Collins, Sanders, and Hood in their individual
capacity, for violation of Waters’ constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment resulting in
his death and Count Two against Collins and Sanders, in their individual capacity, for common
law negligence for delaying and denying Waters’ medical treatment resulting in his death. (Doc.
37, ¶¶ 27-30; 32-35)1 Sawyer seeks a judgment against all defendants for punitive damages
pursuant to Ala. Code § 6-5-410 in an amount to be determined by a jury, court and litigation
costs, including attorney’s fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, and other relief. (Id., ¶¶ 30, 35)
II.Standard of Review
“The court shall grant summary judgment 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). Rule 56(c) governs procedures and provides as follows:
(1) Supporting Factual Positions. A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is
genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:
(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including
depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits
or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of
the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other
(B) showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or
presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot
produce admissible evidence to support the fact.
(2) Objection That a Fact Is Not Supported by Admissible Evidence. A party may
object that the material cited to support or dispute a fact cannot be presented
in a form that would be admissible in evidence.
(3) Materials Not Cited. The court need consider only the cited materials, but it
may consider other materials in the record.
17 of the First Amended Complaint was later amended to allege that Waters
(4) Affidavits or Declarations. An affidavit or declaration used to support or
oppose a motion must be made on personal knowledge, set out facts that
would be admissible in evidence, and show that the affiant or declarant is
competent to testify on the matters stated.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c).
A party seeking summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if
any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Clark v.
Coats & Clark, Inc., 929 F.2d 604, 608 (11th Cir. 1991) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986)). As the Eleventh Circuit has articulated, however,
The nature of this responsibility varies . . . depending on whether the legal issues,
as to which the facts in question pertain, are ones on which the movant or the nonmovant would bear the burden of proof at trial.
. . . Celotex requires that for issues on which the movant would bear the burden of
proof at trial,
that party must show affirmatively the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact: it must support its motion with credible evidence ... that
would entitle it to a directed verdict if not controverted at trial. In other
words, the moving party must show that, on all the essential elements of
its case on which it bears the burden of proof at trial, no reasonable jury
could find for the non-moving party. If the moving party makes such an
affirmative showing, it is entitled to summary judgment unless the nonmoving party, in response, come [s] forward with significant, probative
evidence demonstrating the existence of a triable issue of fact.
[United States v.]Four Parcels[of Real Property], 941 F.2d [1428,]1438[ (11th
Cir. 1991)] (citations and internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis in original).
For issues, however, on which the non-movant would bear the burden of proof at
the moving party is not required to support its motion with affidavits or
other similar material negating the opponent's claim in order to discharge
this initial responsibility. Instead, the moving party simply may show [ ]-
that is, point[ ] out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case. Alternatively, the moving party
may support its motion for summary judgment with affirmative evidence
demonstrating that the non-moving party will be unable to prove its case at
Four Parcels, 941 F.2d at 1437-38 (citations, footnote, and internal quotation
marks omitted; emphasis in original).
If the party moving for summary judgment fails to discharge the initial burden,
then the motion must be denied and the court need not consider what, if any,
showing the non-movant has made. Coats & Clark, 929 F.2d at 608. If, however,
the movant carries the initial summary judgment burden in one of the ways
discussed above, responsibility then devolves upon the non-movant to show the
existence of a genuine issue as to the material fact.
For issues on which the movant would bear the burden of proof at trial, the nonmovant, in order to avoid summary judgment, must come forward with evidence
sufficient to call into question the inference created by the movant's evidence on
the particular material fact. Only if after introduction of the non-movant's
evidence, the combined body of evidence presented by the two parties relevant to
the material fact is still such that the movant would be entitled to a directed
verdict at trial-that is, such that no reasonable jury could find for the non-movantshould the movant be permitted to prevail without a full trial on the issues.
Anderson[v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.], 477 U.S. [242,] 249-50, 106 S. Ct. [2505,]
For issues on which the non-movant would bear the burden of proof at trial, the
means of rebuttal available to the non-movant vary depending on whether the
movant put on evidence affirmatively negating the material fact or instead
demonstrated an absence of evidence on the issue. Where the movant did the
former, then the non-movant must respond with evidence sufficient to withstand a
directed verdict motion at trial on the material fact sought to be negated. Where
the movant did the latter, the non-movant must respond in one of two ways. First,
he or she may show that the record in fact contains supporting evidence, sufficient
to withstand a directed verdict motion, which was “overlooked or ignored” by the
moving party, who has thus failed to meet the initial burden of showing an
absence of evidence. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 332, 106 S. Ct. at 2557 (Brennan, J.,
dissenting). Second, he or she may come forward with additional evidence
sufficient to withstand a directed verdict motion at trial based on the alleged
evidentiary deficiency. See Melissa L. Nelkin, One Step Forward, Two Steps
Back: Summary Judgment After Celotex, 40 Hastings L.J. 53, 82-83 (1988).
Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115-17 (11th Cir. 1993) (headings and footnotes
The mere existence of a factual dispute will not automatically necessitate denial; rather,
only factual disputes that are material preclude entry of summary judgment. Lofton v. Sec’y of
Dep’t of Children & Family Servs., 358 F.3d 804, 809 (11th Cir. 2004). “An issue of fact is
material if it is a legal element of the claim under the applicable substantive law which might
affect the outcome of the case. It is genuine if the record taken as a whole could lead a rational
trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594
F.3d 798, 807 (11th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (citation omitted).
If a non-moving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of its
case with respect to which it has the burden of proof, the moving party is entitled to summary
judgment. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. In reviewing whether a non-moving party has met its
burden, the Court must stop short of weighing the evidence and making credibility
determinations of the truth of the matter. Instead, the evidence of the non-movant is to be
believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor. Tipton v. Bergrohr GMBHSiegen, 965 F.2d 994, 998-99 (11th Cir. 1992) (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Plaintiff Johnnie Mae Sawyer is the daughter of Arthur Waters and “the personal
representative of his Estate. Waters died while an inmate of the State of Alabama in Perry
County Jail. (Doc. 37) Waters was convicted of second degree assault and the Circuit Court
ordered Waters to surrender to the Perry County Jail no later than five o’clock p.m. on June 20,
The Court has made its determination of facts by “review[ing] the record, and all its inferences,
in the light most favorable to [the plaintiff] the nonmoving party.” Benson v. Tocco, Inc., 113
F.3d 1203, 1207 (11th Cir. 1997). Moreover, on summary judgment, “[t]he court need consider
only the cited materials, but it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(c)(3). See also, e.g., Sharpe v. Global Sec. Int'l, 766 F. Supp. 2d 1272, 1282 (S.D. Ala. 2011)
(Steele, C.J.) (“[T]he Court . . . will not independently examine uncited portions of the record in
search of support for a particular proposition[ on summary judgment].” (citing cases)).
2011. (Id.) He surrendered at about two o’clock p.m. (Id.) Waters was a fifty three year old
man who was five foot, seven inches tall and weighed 121 pounds (Doc. 37, at ¶ 8).
On June 20, 2011, Sawyer was with Waters until about 12:30 p.m. Sawyer did not
observe Waters drink any alcohol during this time. (Doc. 159-6, Sawyer depo., p. 2) Waters did
cough, sneeze, sniffle and complain that he was short of breath, could hardly breathe, and that his
back hurt. Sawyer wanted to take Waters to a doctor, but Waters refused and told her that
Sheriff Hood had told him to report to the Jail by two o’clock. (Id., p. 2-3) At 11:00 a.m., they
went across the street from Sawyer’s house and sat under an oak tree while Waters drank juice.
(Id., p. 3) Waters left at about 12:30. (Id.)
Tomeka White was with Waters when he reported to the jail. She did not see Waters buy
or consume alcohol. He did not appear to have been drinking or to be under the influence, and in
her opinion, he was not drunk when he reported. (Doc. 148-13) Waters was dropped off at the
jail by his son-in-law. (Doc. 37)
Defendant Sheriff Hood and Jailers Sylvia Collins and Bobby Sanders were at the Jail
when Waters arrived around 2:00 p.m. on June 20, 2011. Collins and Sanders worked the 8:00
a.m. until 4:00 p.m. shift that day. Collins testified that she did not see Waters when he arrived at
the jail and that she did not have any contact with him that day. (Doc. 148-4, Collins depo., p. 78)3 As to her usual work day, Collins testified as follows: “I come in in the morning, do the
observation, I walk around the cells, look in the cells, and I go back in and do the observation
sheet, our fire log, each hour, I do that, and just mostly monitor them on the monitor.” (Doc. 1594, p. 2)
Sawyer asserts that the Fire Watch Log Sheet for June 20, 2011, indicates that Sanders and
Collins listed “All Dept. Secured” on each hour. (Doc. 159-27) From this, Sawyer asserts that
Collins’ “fire watch log states she did” have contact with Waters. (Doc. 160-1, p. 21)
Sanders saw Waters on the monitor when he came in the front door and went up front to
meet him. (Doc. 148-3, Sanders depo., p. 37) Hood was “coming up the hall” when Waters
reported and he and Sanders “smelled alcohol” on Waters. (Doc. 148-1, Hood depo., p. 10)
Hood asked Waters: “Why you reported to jail under the influence of alcohol”, to which Waters
replied: “Well, I’m going to be gone for a while, so I just tied me one on.” (Id., p. 10-11) Hood
did not observe any symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. (Id., p. 10)4
At 2:15 p.m., Sanders began the Booking Sheet. (Doc. 159-26) To complete the first
page of the Booking Sheet the Booking Officer must mark a list of “Visual Observations” (Doc.
159-26, p. 2). Sanders marked “Yes” to whether Waters appeared “under the influence of
alcohol or drugs” and whether there were “visible signs of alcohol or drug withdrawal such as
extreme sweating, shakes, nausea, pinpoint pupils, or cramping.” (Id.)
Sanders marked “No” as to other questions regarding any visual observations of
“obvious pain, trauma, bleeding, or other symptoms suggesting a need for medication attention”,
“fever, swollen lymph nodes, jaundice or other evidence of infection”, and whether Waters’
brought any medications with him to the Jail.5 (Id.) Sanders noted: “The Inmate are (sic) under
the influence of alcohol drunk.” (Id.)
Page 2 of the Booking Sheet is a Health Screening Form. (Doc. 159-26, p. 2) The Form
was left blank. On Page 3, Sanders wrote: “The inmate refused or was unable to cooperate and
refuses to answer my questions concerning medical history and/or potential for suicide.” (Id., p.
3) As to the “Reason for inability”, Sanders noted “The Inmate are (sic) Drunk” (Id.). The Sheet
Sanders testified that Hood asked Waters if he had been drinking. Waters answered that he
had “a couple of beers” and that he was “going to be locked up for while” and “might as well just
got mine on.” (sic) (Id. p. 37-38)
5 There are other questions regarding risk of assault, physical handicaps, depression,
despondency, “obvious scars from previous suicide attempts” that are not relevant in this action.
requires a certification that the officer observed the inmate, questioned the inmate, and
“accurately recorded” the observation and responses. Sanders signed the certification at 2:20
Sanders later testified that he was mistaken when he marked that Waters was showing
symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. At the time he completed the Booking Sheet, Sanders did not
believe that Waters was in alcohol withdrawal but rather intoxicated. (Doc. 148-3, p. 15-16)
Based on Hood and Sanders’ opinion that Waters was intoxicated, around 2:30 p.m. Sanders
placed Waters in an intake cell where intoxicated inmates are housed before placing them in
general population. (Doc. 145, p. 14)6
Jail Trustee William Tutt talked with Waters when he arrived. Waters told Tutt that “his
back was hurting and he wasn’t feeling too good.” (Doc. 148-11, Tutt depo., p. 2) Tutt brought
Waters a drink from the drink machine and took it to him in the intake cell. (Id., p. 3) Tutt heard
Waters ask about going into general population and heard Hood tell Waters that he could not
because he had been drinking. Waters stated that he had “one or two beers” and denied being
drunk. (Id., p. 3-4)
Later, around 2:30 to 2:40 p.m.,Tutt took Waters his food tray but Waters “said that he
didn’t feel like eating because he didn’t feel good.” (Id., p. 4)7 Tutt left the food tray “on the
flap” and when he returned to get the tray about fifteen minutes later, Waters had not eaten. (Id.)
Waters asked Tutt to tell the jailers to “let him go to the back (general population) because his
The Toxicological Analysis Report found that Waters’ blood was negative for “Ethanol” i.e.,
alcohol. (Doc. 148-21, p. 7-8)
Collins testified that she opened the trap doors so that the inmates could be given their meals
“because we keep them closed at all times, so we go back and forth and open those[.]” (Doc.
159-4, p. 2) From this testimony, Sawyer asserts that Collins must have been with Tutt when he
brought Waters his lunch, and thus “it could be inferred that Collins and Sanders also heard
Waters was not feeling well.” (Doc. 160-1, p. 25) However, Tutt testified that “nobody” was
there when he took Waters his sandwich at lunch on June 20. (Doc. 159-7, p. 41)
back was hurting and that concrete up there, he said was hurting his back and stuff.” (Id., p. 6)
Tutt told Sanders what Waters had said. (Id., p. 7)
Tutt spoke with Waters again around 3:45 p.m. He asked Waters if he felt better but
Waters “said no, his back was still hurting and he still wanted to go back in the back to
population.” (Id., p. 7) Tutt told Sanders again that Waters “was still complaining, that he
wanted to go in the back, that his back was hurting.” (Id., p. 7-8) Tutt returned to his cell around
4:00 p.m. (Id., p. 8)
Collins testified that there were no monitors in the intake cell. To monitor the inmates,
the jailer had to go to the cell and look in. Collins testified that she did not go to Waters’ cell but
“Bobby Sanders did.” (Doc. 159-4, p. 3-4).
At 4:00 p.m., Collins and Sanders left and Jailers Mary Bennett and George Lewis began
their shift. (Doc. 148-20, Bennett depo., p. 3) Bennett and Lewis worked from 4:00 p.m. until
midnight and they checked on Waters approximately every hour until their shift ended. (Id., p. 5)
Bennett stated that Waters “was fine” and “didn’t complain about nothing, he just laid there the
whole time.” (Id. p. 4)
At midnight, Jailer Maggie Hinkle started her shift and worked until 8:00 a.m. (Doc. 1487, p. 5) She checked on Waters. He slept through the night and was asleep when she left at 8:00
On June 21, 2011, around 5:30 a.m., Tutt was going to the laundry room near intake and
heard Waters moan. (Doc. 148-11, p. 10) He looked in the cell and saw Waters was “shaking
and bursted out with sweat and barely gasping for air.” (Id.) He asked Waters what was wrong
and Waters responded that he was cold. Tutt then “went and got him another blanket and gave it
to him.” (Id.) Tutt stated that the “cell wasn’t opened” and that he slid the blanket through the
hole in the door. (Id., p. 11)
Tutt did not tell Jailer Hinkle “because she can’t move nobody till the next shift, till the 8
o’clock shift.” (Id.) Tutt checked on Waters again around 5:45 a.m. when he took the breakfast
tray but Waters said that he did not feel like eating. Tutt picked up the tray around 6:00 a.m. and
Waters had not eaten anything. (Id. p. 12) Tutt did not tell Jailer Hinkle about Waters’ condition.
(Id.) Tutt looked in on Waters again between 7:00 and 7:45 a.m. and Waters was “still busting
out with sweat and shaking.” (Id.)
At 8:00 a.m., Collins and Sanders arrived for their shift. Tutt did not have any
conversations with Collins that morning except to speak when she first arrived. (Id., p. 19-20)
When Sanders and Tutt were taking out the trash about 8:00 a.m., Tutt told Sanders that Waters
was “humped over and gasping for air8 and sweating and that he said he don’t feel good”,
“barely breathing like he’s weak”, “complaining that his back was hurting” and “he wanted to be
back in the back.” (Doc. 148-11, p. 16-17) Sanders told Tutt that he would take Waters to the
back after he took another inmate to the doctor. (Id., p. 17) Sanders did not recall anyone from
the midnight shift telling him anything about Waters when Sanders arrived on the morning of
June 21. (Doc. 148-3, p. 33)
Shawanda Anderson was an intake clerk at the jail. (Doc. 148-15, p. 10) Her desk was
approximately twenty to twenty-five feet from the intake cell where Waters was placed. (Id., p.
2) On the morning of June 21, she arrived at work around 8:00 a.m. (Id., p. 4) She did not see
Collins in the intake area before 11:00 a.m. and could not recall seeing Collins in intake that day.
At deposition, Tutt was questioned regarding whether he saw Waters “gasping for air” or “short
of breath.” (Doc. 148-11, p. 36-38) Tutt appeared to equate the two: “Q. Okay. Then when did
he first start gasping for air? A. Five thirty he was like he was short of breath and shaking and
humped up.” (Id. p. 36)
(Id. p. 3). She saw Sanders when he came in between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m. and saw him again “a
little before eleven when he was coming to move Waters to the back.” (Id.)
Anderson talked to Waters while he was in the intake cell but could only see his face.
(Doc. 159-16, p. 2) She spoke with Waters at about 8:00 a.m. when she came to work. (Doc.
148-15, p. 4). She asked him “how he was doing” and he told her “he was okay except he was
thinking about him going back to prison.” (Id.) Anderson spoke with Waters again about fortyfive minutes later because she had left “in the middle” of their earlier conversation. (Id., p. 6)
She asked again “was he okay . . . because we had just had a conversation of him being
depressed about going back to prison[.]” (Id.) Waters responded that he was okay but he just
wanted to be around somebody and wanted to go to the back. (Id.)
When Sanders returned around 11:00 from taking another inmate to the doctor, Tutt told
him again about Waters. (Doc. 148-11, p. 19; Doc. 159-3, p. 5) Tutt estimated that he and
Sanders moved Waters to the back around 11:30 to 11:45 a.m. (Doc. 148-11, p. 20) Tutt carried
Waters’ mattress because he was too weak. (Id., p. 32) Waters “was complaining that his back
still hurt him real bad and like he was short of breath.” (Id.) As they were walking to the back,
Tutt heard Waters say that “he didn’t feel good, that he needed to see a doctor.” (Id.) Tutt
believed that Waters’ condition was serious “[a]fter he had to help him down the hallway with
his mat” because “he was slumped over, barely walking like he couldn’t catch his breath or
something.” (Doc. 159-7, p. 12)
Collins did not notice whether Waters looked fatigued or notice anything unusual about
the way he walked because she “didn’t look at him that close.” (Doc. 148-4, p. 9) She was in the
control room and “could see him coming out of intake[.]” (Doc. 159-4, p. 4) Collins did not
come out of the control room. (Id.) Collins saw Waters walking with Tutt and Sanders and Tutt
was carrying Waters mattress. (Id.)
Sanders did not think that Waters was having trouble walking back to general population.
(Doc. 148-3, p. 30) Waters asked Sanders to “hurry up” and get him out because “it’s cold in
here” and his back hurt “because you know that ain’t nothing but a slab of concrete up there I
was sleeping on.” (Id., p. 29-30). When questioned whether Waters had “no trouble breathing,
no fever, sweating, shakes, chills” when moved, Sanders answered “no”. (Id., p. 31)
Sanders did not see Hood when they were walking back but thought that if Hood was
around Waters, “it had to be while [Hood] was coming to intake or going back down the hall
when I was taking [Waters].” (Doc. 148-3, p. 30-31) Hood was not sure but thought he might
have seen Waters when Sanders and Tutt were moving him. He could not recall whether Waters
was carrying his mattress and sheets. (Doc. 148-1, p. 12-13). Hood did not think he said
anything to Waters. (Id., p. 13)
Anderson saw Sanders, Tutt and Waters when Waters was moved to general population.
(Doc. 148-15, p. 5) When Waters was leaving the intake cell, Anderson also saw Hood “coming
down the hallway.” (Id., p. 8) She could not “recall what was said” but thought Hood should
have seen Waters. She stated that Waters was walking slow and holding his back. (Id.) She did
not hear Sanders or Tutt make any statements. (Id.) She saw Tutt “lift the mattress” for Waters
to take to general population and when they were “going down the hallway” she heard Waters
say “that his back was bothering him from sleeping on the hard bunk in intake.” (Id., p. 5) She
reiterated that Waters “was walking out of intake and he was like, ‘Thank you, Bob, because my
back hurting from sleeping on that hard bunk in intake.’” (Id., p. 7) She did not see or talk with
Waters again. (Id., p. 8)
Inmate Lamar Williams was in a cell in general population and saw Waters coming down
the hall. He thought Waters “seemed very weak and seemed like he was out of breath.” (Doc.
159-15, p. 2) Williams testified that Waters “could barely hold himself up” and that when
Sanders stopped to open the door, Waters “put a hand on the wall” and Williams saw “him
taking deep breaths.” (Id.) Williams described Waters’ walk to the cell as “barely making it.”
(Id.) Williams believed that Waters was weak and that “something was wrong.” (Id.)
Sanders and Tutt put Waters in the cell with his mattress and Waters “was still hollering
back that he was sick and stuff.” (Doc. 148-11, Tutt depo., p. 21) Tutt thinks that Collins opened
the cell for them. (Id., p. 28-29) Waters told Sanders that his back hurt and asked: “would you
give me something.” (Doc. 148-3, Sanders depo., p. 32) At 11:15 a.m., Sanders gave Waters two
Ibuprofen and water, and Waters lay down. (Id.; Doc. 159-25, Medication log) Sanders testified
that Waters never asked him to see a doctor, he “just asked [him] for something for pain.” (Id., p.
35) After Sanders gave Waters the Ibuprofen, he saw him lying down for about thirty to forty
minutes. (Doc. 148-3, p. 34)
When Waters went into the cell, Williams was in the cell across the hall and saw Waters
“drop down on the mat” but a “few minutes later, he got up and hit the button” on the intercom.
(Doc. 159-15, p. 3) Williams could not hear Waters’ conversation over the “mic”, but he talked
and then “dropped back down on the mat.” (Id.) Williams heard Waters’ cell mate Oliver
Kynard come to the window and say: “they need to get this man out of here because he’s sick.”
(Id.) Williams then saw Kynard go to the button and speak to the jailers. (Id.)
When Tutt returned with lunch around 12:00, Waters was lying on the floor. Waters told
Tutt that he didn’t want his lunch and was “hollering out through his hole” in the cell door that
he was sick and needed to see a doctor. (Doc. 148-11, p. 22, 29) Around 2:00 p.m., Sanders saw
Waters “sitting on the stool looking at the TV” but then Sanders left to go to Tuscaloosa around
3:00 p.m. (Doc. 148-3, p. 34-35).
Williams testified that Waters lay down for about two hours and woke up. (Doc. 159-15,
Williams depo., p. 5) At that time, Kynard told Williams that Waters had “used the restroom on
hisself.” (sic) (Id., p.3) Williams heard Kynard at the button telling the jailers that they “needed
to take [Waters] to the hospital” (Id. p. 4) Kynard “hit the button again and Ms. Collins came
over to the door” and she “kept saying” she would tell Hood. (Id., p. 4) Williams saw Kynard
beat on the window and he estimated that between Kynard and Waters, they were “at that button
about six to eight times” before 4:00 p.m. (Id.) Williams testified that when Waters tried to rise
from the mattress, he fumbled for a few minutes and “was all up against the wall trying to get
Kynard testified that he was the only one in the cell when Waters arrived with Tutt and
Sanders. (Doc. 159-8, p. 1) Waters, in the presence of Tutt and Sanders, told Kynard that that he
was sick, needed to go to a hospital, and needed help. (Id.)Kynard saw Waters take the Ibuprofen
from Sanders right after Waters came to the cell and Kynard thought Sanders brought another
dose about an hour later. (Id., p. 5-6) Kynard could not recall how many times Sanders came
back to the cell but knew that he had “come out and said something” because Kynard kept
ringing the bell and beating the windows. (Id., p. 6)
Kynard described Waters’ symptoms when he first came into the cell as moaning and
groaning and complaining that he could not “take a deep breath” and “hurting bad and breathing
bad.” (Id., p. 4) He also said that Waters was “hurting when he was breathing”, “the mid upper
part of this back was hurting”, he was “sick and in pain, serious pain” and “dragging around.”
(Id., p. 2-4) Kynard saw that Waters did not eat his lunch when it was served between 11:00 and
12:00. (Id., p. 9)
Soon after Waters first came in, Kynard rang the bell and guessed that it was Collins who
answered. Kynard recalled that Waters had already removed his clothes when Kynard called
Collins the first time. (Id., p. 1-2) Kynard told Collins that Waters needed to go to the hospital
because he was sick. (Id.) A “little while after” Waters had taken Ibuprofen, Collins came to the
cell door. (Id., p. 6-7) Kynard told her that Waters needed to go to the hospital and “that was the
time she said oh, he is just drunk.” (Id., p. 7) Kynard described Waters’ actions as lying down
and then getting up every few minutes, and then later he started vomiting, having diarrhea,
getting under the covers because he was cold but then getting hot. He also heard Waters holler
and beg for help. (Id., p. 2-3).
At one point, Collins told Kynard that he “need[ed] to stop hitting the buzzer because
wasn’t nobody fixing to go to the doctor.” (Id., p. 7) Kynard testified that shortly before Collins
left at 4:00 p.m., she came back to the cell. (Id.) Waters was still “hollering and begging” and
Collins said that Waters was drunk and “she should have told sheriff before she left” or “before
he left.” (Id.) Kynard believes that Collins “said I don’t care if he die.” (Id., p. 7) He could not
count the number of times he saw Collins “because she was in and out the door, walking up the
hallway, walking back to the thing where they be in sitting watching the camera. . . She do that
every day.” (Id., p. 5)
Collins testified that she did not talk to Waters on June 21st, until she “got ready to
leave” at “about ten minutes till four when [she] came out, out of the control room” and “he
came to the door.” (Doc. 148-4, p. 9) She testified that Waters “walked to the door and asked
[her] for two Ibuprofen. (Doc. 148-4, p. 13)9 Collins testified that the jailers have discretion to
determine the seriousness of an inmate’s illness and decide whether to call an ambulance or have
the inmate fill out the form to ask to see a doctor. Also, jailers do not need to call the sheriff
before an inmate can be taken out of the jail for medical care. (Id. p. 5-6) When asked her
opinion whether Waters was drunk the day he died, Collins answered: “I didn’t observe it.” (Id.,
Inmate Lester Jeffries saw Waters when he was first moved to general population at
about 11:30 a.m. (Doc. 148-19, p. 2, 19). On questioning, he could not recall the time frame
very well but did remember that Sanders gave Waters Ibuprofen soon after he came to the cell.
(Id.) He also remembered that Waters was asking Collins to help him. (Id., p. 17) He testified
that Collins “put” Waters’ condition “on the alcohol” but “then that worried her so much that she
said she was going to call Sheriff Hood.” (Doc. 159-18, p. 6) Jeffries did not know for certain
whether Waters called Hood but “when she came back, she said - - exactly . . . “Sheriff Hood
said, well, ain’t no doctor coming here tonight, . . . you will see a doctor tomorrow.” (Id., p. 6)
Jeffries testimony was largely the same as Kynard and Williams as to Waters’ complaints and
symptoms even though he had difficulty recalling the time frame. (Id., p. 2, 19)
After 4:00 p.m., the shift changed and jailers Isaac Eubanks and Mary Bennett were on
duty. (Id., p. 5; Doc. 159-20, p. 2) When Bennett arrived, Tutt called the control room and told
her that Waters was sick, and she and Eubanks went into Waters’ cell. (Doc. 159-7, p. 29; Doc.
159-20, p. 2) Bennett went to the cell and Waters told her that he could not breathe, that his
The testimony is unclear as to when Waters was given another dose of Ibuprofen. His
medication log indicates that “B.S.” gave him two 200 m.g. Ibuprofen at 11:15 a.m. and at 6:00
p.m. (Doc. 159-25). This is inconsistent with Bobby Sanders’ shift ending at 4:00 p.m. but
somewhat consistent with Kynard’s testimony that Sanders gave Waters another dose of
Ibuprofen, after the initial dose at 11:15 a.m.
chest and back hurt, and that he needed to go to the doctor. (Doc. 159-20, p. 2) She gave him a
Stanback before she called Hood. (Id.) Not “too long afterward”, Waters started throwing up,
having diarrhea, having hot flashes, and sweating. (Id., p. 3-4) Bennett saw Waters try to get to
the toilet and he was “dragging, just holding his back.” (Id., p. 4) She gave Waters some PeptoBismol and a Sprite. (Id., 3-4).
Bennett and Eubanks went back to the control room but the inmates kept buzzing. They
checked on Waters again and then Bennett called Hood about thirty minutes after she had given
Waters the Pepto-Bismol and Sprite. (Id., p. 4) Bennett could not recall the exact time she spoke
with Hood but she told him that Waters was “throwing up and using the bathroom”, “couldn’t
hardly breathe” or “shortness of breath” and that “something going on with his back”. (Id., p. 5)
Hood told her to let Waters fill out a form and they would take him to the doctor in the morning.
(Id., p. 6) Tutt believed that Bennett called Hood around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m.10 (Doc. 159-7, p. 10)
Bennett and Eubanks went back to talk with Waters about completing the form but he was
worse.11 (Doc. 159-10. p. 6, 12) Eubanks called Hood and he said again for Waters to fill out the
form to see a doctor. (Id., p. 10) Shortly thereafter Waters died. Bennett, Tutt, Kynard,
Williams and another inmate Christopher Collins were in the cell when Waters died. Bennett
Inmate Williams did not hear Bennett or Eubanks call Hood but “they came out and they told
them that they had called Sheriff Hood and he said he wasn’t going to take [Waters] to the doctor
until tomorrow.” (Doc. 159-15, p. 4)
Tutt’s testimony as to the time frame for Waters’ condition is relatively the same as Bennett’s.
He testified that Waters consistently worsened from the time he entered the cell. He recalled that
Waters had stripped out of his inmate suit because he was hot and Tutt placed the onset of
diarrhea and vomiting around 4:30 to 5:00. (Doc. 159-7, p. 9-10, 29) After 5:00 p.m., Bennett
came in and sent Tutt to get the Stanback or Goody powders for Waters. (Id.) All the while, Tutt
heard Waters tell them he was cold, could hardly breath, his back hurt, was about to die, and
needed a doctor. (Id., p. 11-12) Tutt places Bennett and Eubanks back in the cell about 6:00 p.m.
and believed that they called Hood again around 7:00 p.m. (Id., p. 11).
and Eubanks called Hood and told him that Waters had died and Hood told them to call an
ambulance and the coroner. (Id., p. 6, 10)
Hood recalls getting two phone calls about Waters. (Doc. 159-1, p. 18) He
testified that Eubanks did not tell him that Waters was having shortness of breath and “that
would’ve been reason to send them or call the ambulance. . .” (Id.) Hood testified that “if
somebody complain about breathing problem, chest pain, stuff like that, you know, you consider
that as more serious than somebody with a runny nose.” (Id., p. 16) Hood also testified that on
June 21, the day Waters’ died, the only conversation he had with Collins was when he asked her
how Waters was doing and she said that he seemed to be okay during her shift up to the time she
left. (Doc. 159-1, p. 18)
a. Defendants’ Motion to Strike the Expert Opinion of Dr. Michael Gelfand
The parties do not dispute that this action involves complex medical issues such that
medical expert testimony is necessary in order for Sawyer to prove that defendants’ actions were
the proximate cause of Water’ death. See Wingster v. Head, 318 Fed. Appx. 809, 815-816 (11th
Cir. 2009) 12 (“We recognize that Wingster relies on the temporal proximity of the alleged
beatings on October 14 and the aneurysm on October 16. However, this medical causation issue
presents a technical and scientific issue that requires the specialized knowledge of an expert
medical witness.”) (citing Fed. R. Evid. 701, 702); Estate of Gilliam ex rel. Waldroup v. City of
Prattville, 639 F.3d 1041, 1044-1045 n.4 (11th Cir. 2011) (finding that the “state law wrongful
death claims under Ala. Code § 6–5–410, and the § 1983 excessive force claims alleging that
Unpublished opinions are not considered binding precedent, but may be cited as persuasive
authority. Rule 36-2 of the United States Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit.
death was the result of the use of force, were both dismissed at the summary judgment stage
because the Estate produced no admissible evidence that the officers' use of force caused the
decedent's death” and noting that the district court excluded both of the Estate’s medical experts
on causation); Carr v. Marshall County Sheriff's Office, 2013 WL 1834471, *4 (N.D. Ala. Apr.
30, 2013) (finding that plaintiff’s § 1983 wrongful death claim failed because plaintiff did not
offer “any expert medical testimony to support causation.”).
In this action, Sawyer offers the medical expert opinion of Dr. Michael Gelfand as to
causation.13 Dr. Gelfand identified the legal, medical, and investigatory documents and
photographs he reviewed, and stated as follows:
It is my opinion that if medical care had been provided to Mr. Waters in the
setting of an acute care hospital or an emergency room on June 20, 2011 or in the
morning of June 21, 2011 up to approximately noon, he, more likely than not,
would not have died from untreated pulmonary tuberculosis. Stated differently, it
is my opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability that Mr. Waters
would have survived if he would have been given access to appropriate medical
care in a timely manner.
(Doc. 147-8, p. 4)
Dr. Gelfand found that Waters died after a short illness and that his “post-mortem
examination showed extensive bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis.” (Id.) He also stated that
“sudden death secondary to pulmonary tuberculosis is described in the medical literature” and
that “[p]ossible mechanisms of death secondary to pulmonary tuberculosis include: A.
Hypoxemia B. Electrolyte disturbances and/or acidosis C. Bacterial super-infection [and] D.
do not challenge Dr. Gelfand’s status as a medical expert in infectious diseases and
internal medicine. Dr. Gelfand is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health
Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee and practices as an infectious disease specialist. He is a
diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, American Board of Internal Medicine,
and the American Board of Infectious Diseases. He has 33 years of experience and practice of
Infectious Disease and Internal Medicine and has published extensively. (Doc. 147-8, Expert
Report and Curriculum Vitae)
Adrenal insufficiency.” (Id.) Dr. Gelfand concluded that “[a]ll of the above disturbances could
have been adequately diagnosed and treated in the period of 8 hours (noon to the time of death),
thus it is my opinion that the patient would have more likely than not survived, if examined and
treated by a medical professional prior to noon of June 21, 2011.” (Id.)
Defendants argue that Sawyer cannot meet her burden to prove at trial that the
defendants’ actions caused Waters’ death because Dr. Gelfand’s opinion is unreliable and does
not meet the requirements of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S. Ct.
2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993). In Kilpatrick v. Breg, Inc., 613 F.3d 1329, 1335 (11th Cir. 2010),
the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit explained the standard set forth in Daubert, as
Daubert requires that trial courts act as “gatekeepers” to ensure that speculative,
unreliable expert testimony does not reach the jury. 509 U.S. at 597, n. 13, 113
S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469. The trial court must “make certain that an expert,
whether basing testimony upon professional studies or personal experience,
employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the
practice of an expert in the relevant field.” [Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael,
526 U.S. 137, 152, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 143 L.Ed.2d 238 (1999)].
Federal Rule of Evidence 702 governs the admission of expert testimony in
federal court, and provides that:
If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist
the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in
issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill,
experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form
of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon
sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable
principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the
principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.
Applying these principles, this Court has previously held that expert testimony
may be admitted if three requirements are met. First, the expert must be qualified
to testify competently regarding the matter he or she intends to address. Second,
the methodology used must be reliable as determined by a Daubert inquiry. Third,
the testimony must assist the trier of fact through the application of expertise to
understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue. Tuscaloosa v. Harcros
Chemicals, Inc., 158 F.3d 548, 562 (11th Cir.1998).
Kilpatrick, 613 F.3d at 1335.
When reliability is at issue, the Eleventh Circuit instructs as follows:
[i]n deciding the question of reliability, the Supreme Court articulated a nonexhaustive list of relevant factors to consider: (1) whether the expert's theory can
be and has been tested; (2) whether the theory has been subjected to peer review
and publication; (3) the known or potential rate of error of the particular scientific
technique; and (4) whether the technique is generally accepted in the scientific
community. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593–94, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469;
McCorvey, 298 F.3d at 1256. The court must do “a preliminary assessment of
whether the reasoning or methodology underlying the testimony is scientifically
valid and of whether that reasoning or methodology properly can be applied to the
facts in issue.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593–94, 113 S. Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469.
Kilpatrick, 613 F.3d at 1335.
Defendants’ challenge is based on the fourth prong – “whether the technique is generally
accepted in the scientific community”. They argue that Dr. Gelfand’s opinion is unreliable
because he did not base his opinion on “differential diagnosis” methodology, an accepted
methodology or technique to ensure reliability. Defendants assert that because Dr. Gelfand
identified tuberculosis and failed to identify any other possible cause of death such as
emphysema, cardiovascular disease, a healed heart attack, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney
disease, or nephrosclerosis as shown on the autopsy report, “by default he cannot eliminate any
causes”, and thus his opinion is not based upon a differential diagnosis. Defendants point out that
Dr. Gelfand identified four mechanisms of death secondary to tuberculosis as the cause of death,
but “estimated” without “precision” the time necessary to treat the four mechanisms, and that he
had no idea which mechanism was actually present, or the severity, or the difficulty of treatment
of that mechanism. Defendants also argue that Dr. Gelfand’s opinion was unreliable because of
assumptions he made and because of potential breaks in the causal chain due to variables he did
“The ‘differential diagnosis’ methodology ‘is a standard scientific technique of
identifying the cause of a medical problem by eliminating the likely causes until the most
probable one is isolated.’” Kilpatrick, 613 F.3d at 1336 n.7 (quoting Westberry v. Gislaved
Gummi AB, 178 F.3d 257, 262 (4th Cir.1999)). “Although a reliable differential diagnosis need
not rule out all possible alternative causes, it must at least consider other factors that could have
been the sole cause of the plaintiff's injury. ... [A]differential diagnosis that fails to take serious
account of other potential causes may be so lacking that it cannot provide a reliable basis for an
opinion on causation.” Guinn v. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, 602 F.3d 1245, 1253 (11th
Cir. 2010). Also, “an expert must provide a reasonable explanation as to why he or she has
concluded that [any alternative cause suggested by the defense] was not the sole cause of the
plaintiff's injury.” Id., at 1253 (internal quotation marks omitted; bracketed text in original).
Although not specifically outlined in his expert report, Dr. Gelfand’s deposition
testimony indicates that he considered and eliminated tuberculosis, emphysema, cardiovascular
disease, a healed heart attack, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney disease, and nephrosclerosis as
causes of death and ultimately determined that four possible mechanisms secondary to
tuberculosis were plausible causes of Water’s death- hypoxemia, electrolyte disturbances or
acidosis, bacterial super-infection (pneumonia), and adrenal insufficiency. He began his
testimony stating that the “most important complex of facts was the postmortem examination
because it was entirely objective and provided evidence for the underlying diseases and the
possible causes of death in a positive and a negative sense.” (Doc. 159-5, p. 7)
Dr. Gelfand testified that Waters’ autopsy showed that he had “emphysematous blebs,
which likely suggested the presence of some degree of emphysema” a form of COPD, which
would render him more vulnerable to hypoxemia. (Id., p. 11-12) (Id., p. 13, “Q. And did you
look just at the tuberculosis, or did you look at any other condition he might have had? A. Such
as? Q. Emphysema? . . . Q. Possibly COPD? A. [H]e walked in, so we know he was not
disabled by his emphysema or COPD, and so it, as I mentioned would make him more
vulnerable to the effect of tuberculosis, but again it’s treatable.”)
Dr. Gelfand testified that Waters’ heart disease was mild and that his heart was not
severely impaired or dilated. (Id., p. 20, “A. What we know about his heart is described in the
postmortem evaluation. The heart size was normal . . . He had [a] mild degree of coronary artery
disease, 20 percent, which is not medically important. He had one and a half centimeter, a little
bit more than half an inch, in diameter area of previous healed myocardial infarction which
would not have had an effect on the heart function. It was not a normal heart, but I don’t believe
it was a bad heart or a severely impaired heart or dilated heart.”) (Id., p. 14, “A. In a theoretical
patient with a bad heart, you can still treat tuberculosis successfully, if the cardiac function is
adequate, if the heart is not dilated, the patient will take medicines and tuberculosis will be
Dr. Gelfand testified that the “pathological examination” of Waters’ kidneys was
“unremarkable”. He explained that Waters’ kidneys while showing “granular cortices,” did not
“appear to indicate any specific process such as tuberculosis”. (Id., p. 16)14 As to
Boudreau testified that the kidneys were “granular” and that Waters’ had nephrosclerosis
and chronic kidney disease. (Doc. 159-14, p. 3-4)
atherosclerosis, Dr. Gelfand testified that Waters’ “aorta . . . had moderate changes of
atherosclerosis[.]” (Id., p. 20.)
Dr. Gelfand testified that he did not believe that the “tuberculosis was mechanistically
killing [Waters] simply by being in his lungs. It was killing him via the mechanisms”
enumerated in his report – hypoxemia, electrolyte disturbances or acidosis, bacterial superinfection (pneumonia) and adrenal insufficiency. Id., p. 12-14.15 Dr. Gelfand specifically “did
not include pulmonary mechanisms of death such as hemorrhage or pneumothorax because they
were not found on the postmortem exam.” (Id., p. 14) In sum, Dr. Gelfand testified
In trying to determine what happened to him, we are limited in our scientific
methods by the nature of available evidence because he was never subjected to
medical evaluation, testing and treatment. If we had additional data, we would, I
think, be able to be more precise. As it is, what information we have available are
the general information on survivability of patients with tuberculosis . . . and then
the information from postmortem examination which allowed me to rule out
certain conditions such as bleeding out, a collapsed lung, or disseminated disease
elsewhere in the body or underlying cancer and limited them to plausible ways in
which tuberculosis of the lungs can kill you.
(Doc. 159-5, p. 22)
Dr. Gelfand concluded that any of those four mechanisms could have been successfully
treated if Waters had received medical treatment as early as noon on June 21, 2011,
approximately eight hours before his death.
Defendants assert that Dr. Gelfand simply guessed at the time frame. When asked the
significance of the eight-hour period of time in his report, Dr. Gelfand testified as follows:
A. This was a period that I estimated it would take liberally to determine the
nature of the disturbances that I enumerated and to manage them in an average
emergency room or hospital. There is no precision to that determination. Some of
“. . . I was looking for possibilities of other mechanisms of death such as disseminated
tuberculosis involving other organs or the bleeding out from a cavity, and this was not described
on postmortem examination.” (Doc. 159-5, p. 15)
them can be managed much more rapidly as we discussed earlier in the
deposition, such as administration of oxygen for hypoxemia or IV fluids for
hypotension; others may take longer to take effect, such as antibiotics for bacterial
infection or hydrocortisone. So I came up with that number, it sounded about
right. It could be 7 hours and 45 minutes or 8 hours and 15 minutes or 9 hours, but
that's what I came up with.
Q. And again this was just you picked a number or –
A. That's correct. It probably may have resonated in my mind from the studies of
how long it takes for the antibiotics to have an effect on the survival in bacterial
pneumonia. Some of the guidelines for bacterial pneumonia recommend that the
patient be treated within that period of time.
Q. So based on the medical research regarding the time for the treatment of
A. That was one of the considerations. Others have already been discussed by me,
and that is the time that it would take to determine the nature of the abnormalities
and to treat them effectively.
Q. So for the four different possible mechanisms of death, it could take 8 hours to
treat either one, would that be what you're saying?
A. I don't know if I can reconcile "four" and "either one," so you might want to
Q. Well -- okay. Well, you mentioned –
A. You mean any of the four?
Q. Yes. As far as how long it would take, because you mentioned 8 hours.
A. If I was opposing counsel, I would object on the grounds that it's been asked
and answered, but I'm not an attorney so I will say it again. It may take a shorter
interval for hypoxemia or hypotension, it may take a bit longer for bacterial
infection or adrenal insufficiency. It would depend on what is found when the
patient is evaluated when he rolls into the emergency room.
(Doc. 159-5, p. 15)
Q. Now, do you recall the names of any literature or articles that you read
regarding where you came up with the 8 hours?
A. This was an estimate based on common sense and how long in my experience
it would take for the emergency room or hospital to check vital signs, to
administer oxygen, to draw blood, to get it to the lab and test it, that kind of stuff.
But the basic argument that I developed and presented to you is that when the
patient is sent to the emergency room, the normal patterns of evaluation and care
would encompass the problems he likely suffered from and likely was the
mechanism of death or mechanisms of death and would have managed within that
interval resulting in, more likely than not, survival or control of this disease.
Dr. Gelfand’s testimony does not indicate that he simply “picked a number” even though
he answered that question affirmatively. He then qualified the answer by explaining that the
time period was based upon studies regarding time for treatment of bacterial pneumonia and “the
time it would take to determine the nature of the abnormalities and to treat them effectively” as
Dr. Gelfand had previously testified. (Doc. 159-5, p. 12-13, testimony regarding the amount of
time to diagnose and treat hypoxemia, electrolyte disturbances and/or acidosis, bacterial superinfection, adrenal insufficiency) Dr. Gelfand also based his opinion in part on his own
experience as a physician. “The text of Rule 702 dictates that expert status may be based on
experience, and the Advisory Committee Notes dictate that experience alone ‘may ... provide a
sufficient foundation for expert testimony.’” United States v. Frazier, 387 F.3d 1244, 1295 (11th
Cir. 2004) (italics in original) (citing Rule 702 cmt. at 290) “After all, ‘[e]xperts of all kinds tie
observations to conclusions through the use of what Judge Learned Hand called “general truths
derived from ... specialized experience”’ and ‘no one denies that an expert might draw a
conclusion from a set of observations based on extensive and specialized experience.’” Id. at
1298 (citing Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 149, 119 S.Ct. 1167, 1174, 1178
(1999)). Defendants may challenge Dr. Gelfand’s opinion on cross-examination or through the
testimony of their expert witnesses.16 “[V]igorous cross-examination, presentation of contrary
evidence, and careful instruction on the burden of proof are the traditional and appropriate means
of attacking shaky but admissible evidence.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 596, 113 S.Ct. 2786.
Accordingly, the motion to strike is DENIED.
b. Sawyer’s § 1983 claim
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or
usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to
be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the
jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities
secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an
action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . .
42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Eleventh Circuit has held that Alabama’s survivorship law, Ala. Code § 6-5-462,
applies to § 1983 actions. See Estate of Gilliam ex rel. Waldroup v. City of Prattville, 639 F.3d
1041 (11th Cir. 2011), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 817 (2011). “Under that provision, ‘a deceased’s
unfiled tort claims do not survive the death of the putative plaintiff.’ ” Id. at 1046 (quoting
Defendants’ medical expert John Moorehouse, MD, who is board certified in Emergency
Medicine, testified that the four mechanisms would have been identified and treated in an
emergency room within the eight-hour period but total correction and reversal would depend on
the severity. (Doc. 159-11, p. 6, 14) He opined that “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty
that the factors in this case made survivability unlikely.” (Doc. 159-2, p. 3) Defendants’
medical expert William P. Saliski, D.O., a pulmonary and critical care physician, testified that
hypoxemia and electrolyte disturbances could be treated within an hour at an emergency room
but bacterial super-infection would take 24 to 72 hours to diagnose from cultures and adrenal
insufficiency was a complicated diagnosis and could take days to weeks. (Doc. 159-12, p. 6, 910) He opined that as to the “timeliness of medical intervention, unfortunately, statistically,
sudden death ‘in the field or out of the hospital’ has no increased survivability over sudden death
in the hospital environment.” (Doc. 147-5, p. 3) Both Drs. Moorehouse and Saliski opined that
Waters died from his cardiac disease. (“As it appears, Mr. Waters had sudden death having a
ventricular arrhythmia would cause his left heart to dysfunction thus causing pulmonary edema
which would be consistent with what was found in the patient’s lungs.” (sic) (Dr. Saliski, Doc.
147-5, p. 3); (“It is more likely that he developed a cardiac dysrhythmia and subsequent
pulmonary edema and had contributory tuberculosis, chronic alcoholism, and COPD - - this, all
together, making his survivability unlikely.” (Dr. Moorehouse, Doc. 159-2, p. 3)
Bassie v. Obstetrics & Gynecology Assocs. of Northwest Ala., P.C., 828 So. 2d 280, 282 (Ala.
2002)). However, “when a constitutional violation actually causes the injured party's death, a §
1983 claim can be asserted through the Alabama wrongful death statute, Ala. Code § 6–5–410.”
Id. at 1047.Accord Kruse v. Corizon, Inc., 2013 WL 3366040, at *2-3 (S.D. Ala. July 5, 2013)
(discussing Estate of Gilliam).
Sawyer bears the burden of proving that defendants’ actions caused Waters’ death. Since
her medical expert witness has testified that Waters could have survived if he had obtained
medical treatment before approximately noon on June 21, 2011, the parties appear to agree that
as to causation, the inquiry is whether the actions taken by the defendants before that time
resulted in Waters’ death. As Sawyer points out, in the deliberate indifference analysis as to
causation, the decision in Gilliam allows the Court to disregard the defendants’ actions taken
after that time, since those actions would not have caused Waters’ death because he was “too far
in his death spiral for it to matter.” (Doc. 160, p. 39)
Sawyer alleges that defendants violated Waters’ constitutional rights under the Eighth
Amendment because they had subjective knowledge of his serious medical needs but disregarded
the risk to Waters’ health by failing to provide medical treatment and by unnecessarily delaying
medical treatment. (Doc. 37, Count One) Sawyer alleges that defendants’ conduct caused
Waters’ death from conditions that were curable had he received proper medical treatment. (Id.)
Defendants assert that they are entitled to qualified immunity as to Sawyer’s § 1983
claim. The Eleventh Circuit has set forth the following the analysis for applying qualified
“The doctrine of qualified immunity provides that government officials
performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil
damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or
constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” Case v.
Eslinger, 555 F.3d 1317, 1325 (11th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
omitted). “Qualified immunity balances two important interests-the need to hold
public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need
to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform
their duties reasonably.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. ----, 129 S. Ct. 808, 815,
172 L. Ed. 2d 565 (2009). “[Q]ualified immunity is a privilege that provides ‘an
immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability.’ ” Bates v. Harvey, 518
F.3d 1233, 1242 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 200-01,
121 S. Ct. 2151, 2156, 150 L. Ed. 2d 272 (2001)) . . .
“To invoke qualified immunity, the official first must establish that he was acting
within the scope of his discretionary authority” when the alleged violation
occurred. Id. at 1325. “If, interpreting the evidence in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff, the court concludes that the defendant was engaged in a discretionary
function, then the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show that the defendant is not
entitled to qualified immunity.” Holloman ex rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d
1252, 1264 (11th Cir. 2004). “[T]he plaintiff must ... show that: (1) the defendant
violated a constitutional right, and (2) this right was clearly established at the time
of the alleged violation.” Id. “The judges of the district courts and the courts of
appeals [are] permitted to exercise their sound discretion in deciding which of the
two prongs of the qualified immunity analysis should be addressed first in light of
the circumstances in the particular case at hand.”Pearson, 129 S. Ct. at 818.
Townsend v. Jefferson Cnty., 601 F.3d 1152, 1157-58 (11th Cir. 2010). “ ‘[W]hether an official
protected by qualified immunity may be held personally liable for an allegedly unlawful official
action generally turns on the “objective legal reasonableness” of the action, assessed in light of
the legal rules that were “clearly established” at the time it was taken.’ ” Messerschmidt v.
Millender, 132 S. Ct. 1235, 1245 (2012) (quoting Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 639
(1987) (citation omitted)). “In order to overcome summary judgment because of qualified
immunity, the facts in dispute must raise a genuine issue of fact material to the determination of
the underlying issue.” Terrell v. Smith, 668 F.3d 1244, 1250 (11th Cir. 2012) (quotation
1. Whether defendants were acting within the scope of their discretionary authority?
In determining whether an official was “acting within the scope of his discretionary
authority,” the Court assesses whether the official’s actions are “of a type that fell within the
employee's job responsibilities. [The Court’s] inquiry is two-fold. We ask whether the
government employee was (a) performing a legitimate job-related function (that is, pursuing a
job-related goal), (b) through means that were within his power to utilize.” Holloman ex rel.
Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252, 1265 (11th Cir. 2004). The record shows no dispute that
defendants were government employees, i.e., county employees and an elected official, acting
within their discretionary authority at all times relevant. Their alleged acts or omissions fell
within their respective job responsibilities. Therefore, the burden shifts to Sawyer to show that
defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity. Floyd v. Corder, 426 Fed. Appx. 790, 791
(11th Cir. 2011) (citing Holloman ex rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252, 1264 (11th
2. Whether defendants violated Waters’ clearly established constitutional rights?
Sawyer’s § 1983 claim against defendants alleges that they were deliberately indifferent
to Waters’ serious medical need, resulting in his death. Sawyer relies on the evidence as set forth
in the facts, supra, to establish that the defendants are not entitled to qualified immunity.
Specifically, Sawyer alleges that before 11:14 a.m. on 6/21/11, Waters was struggling to breathe,
could barely walk, and was begging to go to the doctor. (Facts I-A Doc. 161)(Doc. 160, p. 5-6)
Moreover, all three defendants were told about Waters’ symptoms by Waters and the other
detainees/prisoners or in Hood’s case, by Collins. From these facts, Sawyer argues that “prison
officials need not diagnose the precise medical ailment . . . all that needs to be proven is that the
inmate’s condition ‘is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for
a doctor’s attention’ and ‘if left unattended, “pos[es] a substantial risk of serious harm.’” Sawyer
also argues that “deliberate indifference may result not only from failure to provide medical care
. . . but also from excessive delay” that exacerbates the medical condition.
“The Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments forbids prison
officials from acting with a ‘deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners.’”
Simmons v. Monserrate, 489 Fed. Appx. 404, 405 (11th Cir. 2012) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble,
429 U.S. 97, 104, 97 S.Ct. 285, 291, 50 L.Ed.2d 251 (1976)). “[A] prison official’s ‘deliberate
indifference to [the] serious medical needs of [a] prisoner constitutes the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain ... proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.’ ” Farrow v. West, 320 F.3d
1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. at 104). “To prevail on a
deliberate indifference claim, the plaintiff must show that: (1) he had a serious medical need (the
objective component), (2) the prison officials acted with deliberate indifference to his serious
medical need (the subjective component), and (3) the injury was caused by the defendants'
wrongful conduct.” Simmons, 489 Fed. Appx. at 405-406 (citing Goebert v. Lee Cnty., 510 F.3d
1312, 1326 (11th Cir. 2007)).
A “serious medical need is one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating
treatment[.]” Kuhne v. Florida Dept. of Corrections, - - - F. 3d - - -, 2014 WL 503146, *4 (11th
Cir. 2014 (slip copy) (quoting Mann v. Taser Int'l, Inc., 588 F.3d 1291, 1307 (11th Cir. 2009)).
There is no dispute of fact that Waters’ did not have a diagnosed medical condition.
Alternatively, a “serious medical need is . . . one that is so obvious that even a layperson would
easily recognize the necessity for a doctor's attention” or, [i]n the alternative, a serious medical
need is determined by whether a delay in treating the need worsens the condition.” Kuhne, 2014
WL 503146, at *4. “In either case, ‘the medical need must be one that, if left unattended, poses a
substantial risk of serious harm.’” Mann, 588 F.3d at 1307 (citing Farrow v. West, 320 F. 3d
1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2003)).
The parties debate whether Waters’ condition was “so obvious” that defendants should
have recognized the need for treatment before approximately 11:00 a.m. on June 21, 2011.
However, since the undisputed evidence establishes that Waters’ condition worsened over time
and ultimately he died, the Court finds Waters’ serious medical condition posed a substantial risk
of serious harm if left unattended; the alternative test identified in Mann.17 See Weaver v. Toney,
2012 WL 3597125, *4 (S.D. Ala. Aug. 1, 2012) (“The ‘seriousness’ of an inmate's medical
needs also may be decided by reference to the effect of delay in treatment. . . . [W]here the delay
results in an inmate's suffering ‘a life-long handicap or permanent loss, the medical need is
considered serious.’”) (citations omitted) (italics in original).
The subjective component requires that Sawyer must prove (1) the prison officials'
subjective knowledge of a risk of serious harm, (2) their “disregard of that risk, by [(3)] conduct
that is more than gross negligence.” Goebert, 510 F.3d at 1326–27. “Whether a particular
defendant has subjective knowledge of the risk of serious harm is a question of fact ‘subject to
demonstration in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial evidence, and a
factfinder may conclude that a prison official knew of a substantial risk from the very fact that
the risk was obvious.’ ” Goebert, 510 F. 3d at 1327 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
842 (1994) (citation omitted)). “Disregard of the risk is also a question of fact that can be shown
by standard methods.” Id. (citing Farmer, 511 U.S. at 846). Accord Martinez v. Burns, 459
Fed.Appx. 849, 851 (11th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (“Whether a defendant has subjective
knowledge of the risk of serious harm and whether they disregarded that risk are questions of
fact that can be demonstrated in the usual ways, including inference from circumstantial
evidence.”) (citing Goebert, 510 F.3d at 1327).
The parties dispute the cause of death. Sawyer’s medical expert identifies causes secondary to
tuberculosis, while defendants’ experts opine that Waters had a sudden death event likely related
to his coronary artery disease. However, there is no dispute of fact that Waters’ condition
worsened during the course of the day on June 21, 2011.
“The meaning of ‘more than gross negligence’ is not self-evident but past decisions have
developed the concept. In cases that turn on the delay in providing medical care, [and] [w]here
the prisoner has suffered increased physical injury due to the delay, we have consistently
considered: (1) the seriousness of the medical need; (2) whether the delay worsened the medical
condition; and (3) the reason for the delay.” Goebert, 510 F. 3d at 1327. Thus, “[t]he inadvertent
or negligent failure to provide adequate medical care ‘cannot be said to constitute “an
unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.” ’ ” Id. (quoting Estelle, 429 U.S. at 105-06); Mann,
588 F.3d at 1308 (“While the deputies may have made an error in judgment, mere negligence or
a mistake in judgment does not rise to the level of deliberate indifference. Plaintiffs' showing that
harm resulted, without more, cannot carry the burden required for deliberate indifference.”).
“The final requirement for a deliberate indifference claim is that a defendant have a
causal connection to the constitutional harm. Causation, of course, can be shown by personal
participation in the constitutional violation.” Goebert, 510 F.3d at 1327 (citing Cottone v. Jenne,
326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th Cir.2003) and Zatler v. Wainwright, 802 F.2d 397, 401 (11th
Cir.1986) (per curiam)).
Hood in his individual capacity
Defendants as “the moving party” may support their “motion for summary judgment with
affirmative evidence demonstrating that the non-moving party will be unable to prove its case at
trial.” Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1116 (11th Cir.1993) (quotation marks and
internal citations omitted). In response, Sawyer “must ... set out specific facts showing a
genuine issue for trial. If the opposing party does not so respond, summary judgment should, if
appropriate, be entered against that party.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e). Defendants have proffered
evidence that during the relevant time period, Hood’s personal involvement was limited to
observing Waters when he arrived on June 20, 2011, reaching the conclusion that Waters was
intoxicated and seeing Waters walk from intake to general population on June 21, 2011 around
11:00 a.m. There is no evidence that Hood observed any of Waters’ behavior after he was moved
to the cell in general population.
Sawyer asserts that “Collins asked Hood minutes after [Waters] entered general
population whether [Waters] could go to the hospital and Hood said ‘no’.” (Doc. 160, p. 9) this
allegation is based on the testimony of inmate Jeffries.(Doc. 160-1, p. 3) Jeffries testified that he
did not know for certain whether Collins called Hood but “when she came back, she said - exactly . . . “Sheriff Hood said, well, ain’t no doctor coming here tonight, . . . you will see a
doctor tomorrow.” (Doc. 159-18, p. 6) Even assuming that Collins’ statement, elicited from
Jeffries, as to what Hood said is admissible hearsay, this is still insufficient to hold Hood
accountable. There is no evidence that Hood was informed of the specifics of Waters’ condition
during the relevant time period, i.e., before or shortly after noon on June 21, 2011. Thus, there is
not sufficient circumstantial evidence to support an inference that Hood had a subjective
knowledge of the risk of serious harm to Waters if he did not see a doctor and that Hood
disregarded that risk by conduct that is more than gross negligence. Goebert, 510 F.3d at 1326–
27. Since the evidence is insufficient to establish that Hood violated Waters’ constitutional
rights, Sawyer has failed to meet her burden, and Hood is entitled to qualified immunity.
Accordingly, summary judgment is due to be granted in favor of Hood.
Hood’s Supervisory Liability
Defendants argue that Sawyer concedes any claims against Hood based upon supervisory
liability by stating in a footnote that “Plaintiff does not oppose summary judgment on any
theories of supervisory liability against Hood other than those based on his personal
involvement.” (Doc. 160, p. 9, n.22) The law is “well-established that a Sheriff can have no
respondeat superior liability for a section 1983 claim.”Weaver v. Mobile County, 228 Fed. Appx.
883, 886 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Marsh v. Butler County, 268 F.3d 1014, 1035 (11th
Cir.2001). Hood may be found liable only if he “personally participated in the allegedly
unconstitutional conduct or if there is ‘a causal connection between [his] actions ... and the
alleged constitutional deprivation.’” Id. (quoting Cottone v. Jenne, 326 F.3d 1352, 1360 (11th
Cir.2003)). If Hood did not personally participate in the allegedly wrongful conduct, then the
causal connection can be established if there is a history of widespread abuse that puts Hood “on
notice of the need to correct the alleged deprivation, and he fail[ed] to do so”; or Hood’s
“improper custom or policy le[d] to deliberate indifference to constitutional rights”; or the “facts
support an inference that [Hood] directed the subordinates to act unlawfully or knew that the
subordinates would act unlawfully and failed to stop them from doing so.” Hendrix v. Tucker,
535 Fed. Appx. 803, 805 (11th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted).
In Count One, Sawyer alleged that Hood’s policy or custom of not employing or having
available a nurse or other medical personnel at the Perry County Jail, and Waters’ death
constituted deliberate indifference to the “risks posed by the serious medical conditions of the
detainees/prisoners[.]” (Doc. 37, p. 8, Count One) Also, in the statement of facts in the First
Amended Complaint, Sawyer alleged that “Collins and Sanders were not trained nor instructed in
the proper and acceptable methods of determining if a person is intoxicated or suffering from
medical illness.” (Id., p. 4, 8) This allegation of failing to properly train the jailers18 was
Hood had a policy that allowed the jailers to call for emergency medical services if they
believed an inmate had a medical emergency, without first calling Hood for approval. Collins
and Sanders knew this was the policy. Bennett and Eubanks thought that they had to call Hood
for approval before calling emergency services. (Doc. 148-1, Hood depo., p. 3-4; Doc. 148-3,
Sanders depo., p. 7-8 ; Doc. 148-4, Collins depo., p. 4-5 ; Doc. 148-2, Bennett affidavit; Doc.
incorporated by reference into Count One. Since neither of these allegations are based upon
Hood’s personal involvement in the decisions regarding Waters’ medical care, summary
judgment is granted in favor of Hood as to these claims.
Defendants Collins and Sanders
The undisputed evidence as to Waters’ condition before and at approximately noon on
June 21, 2011, does not support an inference that Sanders and Collins had subjective knowledge
of a risk of serious harm and disregarded that risk by conduct that was more than gross
negligence. Sanders and Collins arrived at work at 8:00 a.m. on June 21, 2011. Collins’ contact
with Waters was minimal before he was transferred to general population. She testified that she
saw Waters on the monitor during the transfer and that Tutt was carrying Waters’ mattress, but
she did not observe anything unusual about Waters. Tutt, who had heard Waters’ complaining of
back pain earlier in the morning, did not tell Collins but at about 8:00 a.m. he told Sanders. Tutt
told Sanders that Waters was “humped over and gasping for air and sweating and that he said he
don’t feel good”, “barely breathing like he’s weak”, “complaining that his back was hurting” and
“he wanted to be back in the back.” (Doc. 148-11, p. 16-17) Sanders told Tutt that he would take
Waters to the back after he took another inmate to the doctor. (Id., p. 17)
Anderson talked with Waters that morning and he told her that he was okay but he just
wanted to be around somebody and wanted to go to general population. Later when Anderson
159-20, Bennett depo., p. 5, 12; Doc. 148-10, Eubanks affidavit). If an inmate is sick and wants
to see a doctor, the inmate must fill out a medical request form, or the jailers can help the inmate
fill out the form, and a medical appointment is scheduled. (Doc. 148-1, Hood depo., p. 3-4 ;
Doc. 148-3, Sanders depo., p. 7-8 ; Doc. 148-4, Collins depo., p. 4-5) Bennett thought the
inmate had to fill out the form: “We continued to tell Sheriff Hood that Mr. Waters was in such
bad shape that he could not fill out the forms. Sheriff Hood listened to the requests and denied
them. Because Arthur Waters had to fill a form and he was too weak to do that, I was unable to
get him an ambulance or any medical treatment.” (Doc. 148-2; Doc. 159-20, Bennett depo., p. 5,
saw Waters walking to general population, she saw Tutt carry the mattress for Waters and
observed that he was walking slow and holding his back. She heard Waters say that his back
was hurting from sleeping on the hard bunk in intake.
The inmates who observed Waters on the walk to general population testified to
significantly more symptomatology than did Sanders or Anderson. Tutt’s testimony raises the
strongest inference that Sanders could have been subjectively aware of Waters’ serious medical
needs since Tutt testified that during the walk, Waters said that he needed to see a doctor because
he didn’t feel good. He also said that Waters’ was complaining that his back hurt really bad and
he was short of breath, slumped over, and barely walking. Inmate Kynard’s testimony that he
started calling Collins on the intercom soon after Waters was placed in the cell with him because
he thought Waters was sick and needed to see a doctor raises the strongest inference that Collins
had subjective knowledge of Waters’ serious medical needs at least as early as 11:30 a.m.
However, the symptomatology that all observed at that time was that Waters was walking slow,
humped over, complaining of back pain, and had difficulty breathing.19 The severe diarrhea,
nausea, vomiting, chills and fever occurred later in the afternoon. According to Sawyer’s expert,
in order to have survived, Waters would have needed treatment before approximately noon on
June 21, 2011. Thus, the afternoon symptoms are not relevant to the determination of whether
Collins and Sanders are entitled to qualified immunity.
Waters entered the jail without a diagnosed medical condition. Thus, while Waters was
sick, his symptoms before noon on June 21, 2011 were not such that a reasonable inference could
be drawn that Sanders and Collins had subjective knowledge of a risk of serious harm to Waters
and disregarded that risk by conduct that was more than gross negligence.20 Since the evidence is
insufficient to establish a constitutional violation, Sawyer has failed to meet her burden, and
Sanders and Collins are entitled to qualified immunity. Accordingly, summary judgment is due
to be granted in their favor.
Sawyer’s Count 2 for negligence under Alabama law
The Court has determined that summary judgment is due to be granted as to Sawyer’s
federal claims, the only remaining claim in this action is Count 2 alleging “Alabama Common
Law Negligence” for wrongful death. (Doc. 37, p. 8) Sawyer has not pled a basis for original
jurisdiction over this claim and none is apparent from the record. Rather, the Court has exercised
supplemental jurisdiction over this claim pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
However, § 1367(c)(3) states: “The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if . . . the district court has dismissed all claims
over which it has original jurisdiction . . .” This Court has previously declined to exercise its
supplemental jurisdiction21 and the Eleventh Circuit “ha[s] encouraged district courts to dismiss
any remaining state claims when . . . the federal claims have been dismissed prior to trial.” Raney
v. Allstate Ins. Co., 370 F.3d 1086, 1089 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam). See also United Mine
Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (“Needless decisions of state law should be avoided
both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the parties, by procuring for them a
Cf. Harper v. Lawrence County, Ala., 584 F.3d 1030, 1038 (11th Cir. 2009) (finding that
plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to deny qualified immunity where defendants were told by other
inmates that “several days after his initial incarceration Harper was hallucinating, slurring his
words, physically weak, and incoherent”, “displaying erratic and strange behavior”, “acting
strangely, losing his balance, and had urinated on himself.”)
21 See, e.g., Mongham v. Soronen, 2013 WL 705390, at *6 (S.D. Ala. Feb. 26, 2013) (DuBose,
J.); Bandy v. Midland Funding, LLC, 2013 WL 210730, at *10 (S.D. Ala. Jan. 18, 2013)
(DuBose, J.); Kruse v. Byrne, 2013 WL 6237694, at *17 (S.D. Ala. Dec. 3, 2013) (DuBose, J.).
surer-footed reading of applicable law. Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed before trial,
even though not insubstantial in a jurisdictional sense, the state claims should be dismissed as
well.”); Mergens v. Dreyfoos, 166 F.3d 1114, 1119 (11th Cir. 1999) (“[T]his Court has noted that
‘if the federal claims are dismissed prior to trial, Gibbs strongly encourages or even requires
dismissal of state claims.’ ” (quoting L.A. Draper & Son v. Wheelabrator–Frye, Inc., 735 F.2d
414, 428 (11th Cir. 1984) (citing Gibbs, 383 U.S. at 726))); Dockens v. Dekalb Cnty. Sch. Sys.,
441 Fed. Appx. 704, 709 (11th Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (“Once the district court properly granted
summary judgment for the School System on the FMLA claims, no federal claims remained. It
was not abuse of discretion for the court to decline supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
Accordingly, the Court makes no ruling as to Sawyer’s state law claim against defendants
Collins and Sanders, as set out in Count 2 of the First Amended Complaint (Doc. 37), and
instead finds that it is due to be DISMISSED without prejudice. See, e.g., Ingram v. Sch. Bd.
Sawyer’s remaining state law claim for wrongful death under Alabama law is subject to a twoyear statute of limitation. Ala. Code § 6-5-410. The statute of limitation began to run on June 21,
2011, the date of Waters’ death. See Ala. Code § 6-5-410(d) (“The action must be commenced
within two years from and after the death of the testator or intestate.”). This action was
commenced on January 12, 2012 and the First Amended Complaint, which added Count 2 was
filed on July 7, 2012. (Doc. 1; Doc. 37). However, § 1367(d) provides that “[t]he period of
limitations for any claim asserted under subsection (a) . . . shall be tolled while the claim is
pending and for a period of 30 days after it is dismissed unless State law provides for a longer
tolling period.” See Roden v. Wright, 611 So. 2d 333 (Ala. 1992) (finding that pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1367(d), Roden timely filed his suit in state court within thirty days of the order
entering summary judgment on Roden’s § 1983 claims in federal court); Martinez v. City of
Orlando, 2009 WL 3048486, at *2 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 21, 2009) (“28 U.S.C. § 1367(d) provides
that the statute of limitations is tolled while state law claims are pending in federal court until
thirty daysafter an order of dismissal. Therefore, Plaintiff may pursue her state claims in state
court if she so chooses, as long as she files in a timely manner.”); Lewis v. DeKalb Cnty. Bd. of
Educ., 2013 WL 6073519, at *8 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 18, 2013); Gainor v. Douglas Cnty., Ga., 59 F.
Supp. 2d 1259, 1296 (N.D. Ga. 1998). Accordingly, dismissal of Sawyer’s remaining state law
claim will not prejudice her ability to timely re-file in state court.
of Miami-Dade Cnty., 167 Fed. Appx. 107, 109 (11th Cir. 2006) (per curiam) (“When a court
decides not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under § 1367(c)(3) because only state claims
remain, the proper action is a dismissal without prejudice so that the complaining party may
pursue the claim in state court. Crosby v. Paulk, 187 F.3d 1339, 1352 (11th Cir. 1999) (‘If he
decides to dismiss these state-law claims, then they should be dismissed without prejudice so that
the claims may be refiled in the appropriate state court.’)”).
In accordance with the foregoing, defendants’ motion to exclude is DENIED;
defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED as to Sawyer’s claims pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983 and Count One of the First Amended Complaint is dismissed with prejudice; and
Sawyer’s state law claims against defendants Collins and Sanders in Count 2 of the First
Amended Complaint DISMISSED without prejudice.
Final judgment in accordance with this Order shall be entered by separate document.
DONE this the 24th day of February 2014.
s/ Kristi K. DuBose
KRISTI K. DuBOSE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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