Garza et al v. Yuma County et al
ORDER AND OPINION, granting in part and denying in part Defendants' 225 Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56; it is granted as to defendants Felix, Wilson, and Knolle; all claims against those defendants are dismissed; it is grante d with respect to plaintiffs' punitive damages claims against defendants Franklin and Kelly; those claims are dismissed; it is denied as to the § 1983 and simple negligence claims against defendants Franklin and Kelly. Signed by Judge John W Sedwick on 11/22/11. (REW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
M.M., et al.,
YUMA COUNTY, et al.,
ORDER AND OPINION
[Re: Motion at Docket 225]
I. MOTION PRESENTED
At docket 225, defendants Rafael Felix (“Felix”), Robert Kelly (“Kelly”), Joe
Franklin (“Franklin”), Benjamin Wilson (“Wilson”), and Donna Knolle (“Knolle”)
(collectively “defendants”), move pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 for
summary judgment. Plaintiffs M.M., Ashley Ingraham (“Ingraham”), and Alex Garza
(“Garza”) (collectively “plaintiffs”) respond to the motion at docket 248. Plaintiffs do not
oppose the motion with respect to Felix, Wilson, or Knolle, but do oppose the motion
with respect to Kelly and Franklin. Defendants’ reply is at docket 258. Oral argument
was requested but would not assist the court.
This lawsuit arises out of the premature birth of M.M. Ingraham is M.M.’s mother
and Garza is M.M.’s father. Felix, Kelly, and Franklin are sergeants at the Yuma County
Detention Center. Wilson and Knolle are detention officers. Ingraham was taken into
custody at the Yuma County Detention Center on September 7, 2006. She was put in
the Blue Unit for higher risk inmates.
Ingraham was examined at intake by Elanor Snyder (“Snyder”), an employee of
Northend Health Associates (“Northend”), which contracted to provide medical services
at the jail. She informed Snyder that she was pregnant, suffered from bipolar disorder,
and was taking medication. Ingraham was given prenatal vitamins.
The following day, at 10:39 a.m., Ingraham was examined by defendant Kindra
Gonzales (“Gonzales”), Northend’s Director of Nursing. Gonzales was informed that
Ingraham had an outburst at a court hearing that morning. She was unaware whether
Ingraham would be in jail for an extended period, but was told that Ingraham was
pregnant, acknowledged the need for Ingraham’s medical records, and ordered a vital
sign check and a urinalysis to confirm the pregnancy.
Ingraham was brought back to the medical department at 10:56 a.m. after she
complained that she was having contractions and needed her psychiatric medications.
Gonzales performed an abdominal exam and did not notice anything out of the ordinary.
Ingraham asked to be taken to the hospital and stated that her water broke. Gonzales
examined Ingraham’s underwear and found “a small amount of yellow fluid with urine
smell [and] no bloody show.”1 Gonzales reported that it did “not appear to be amniotic
fluid” and that she was “unable to test” it.2 Gonzales then contacted Northend’s Medical
Director, Jose Piscoya (“Piscoya”). Piscoya ordered that Ingraham be given Tylenol for
pain and instructed that she not be sent to the hospital at that time.
On September 9, 2006, at approximately 2 p.m., Ingraham told a detention officer
that she had jumped off her bed onto her abdomen in an effort to terminate her
pregnancy. Felix was the supervising sergeant at that time, and he was informed by the
detention officer that Ingraham was attempting to harm herself. Franklin came on duty
at approximately 2:45 p.m and was similarly informed. Franklin accompanied nurse
Radu Timis (“Timis”) to Ingraham’s cell, and Timis examined Ingraham. Franklin told
Ingraham that if her behavior continued, she might be restrained or placed on suicide
Approximately an hour later, Timis reassessed Ingraham, again in Franklin’s
presence. Ingraham was crying, told them that she was not a good mother because
she was in jail, and that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy. Ingraham requested
pain medication for back, abdominal, and lower pelvic pain. Timis suggested that
Ingraham give her child up for adoption and told her again that suicide watch might be
necessary. Franklin told her that she could be charged with “premeditated
manslaughter” if she successfully aborted her pregnancy in jail.3
Doc. 207-1 at 6.
Id. at 7.
Id. at 11.
At 5:45 p.m., Franklin was advised that Ingraham was bleeding, that an officer
had observed blood in Ingraham’s toilet and on a pad, and that the medical staff had
been apprised of the situation. Wilson went on duty sometime around 7:00 p.m. and
also observed blood. Timis examined Ingraham again at 8:05 p.m. Although he
observed blood in Ingraham’s toilet, he did not feel any uterine contractions. Ingraham
was placed on medical watch, bed rest, and a pad count. Franklin maintains that–at
some point during his shift–he asked Timis whether Ingraham was in labor, and Timis
responded that she was not.4
Around 9:20 p.m., Ingraham claimed that her mucus plug had come out.
Ingraham was examined again by Timis, who observed a pad with a filament of mucus
that Timis believed was from Ingraham’s nose. Ingraham was placed in a dry cell.5
Knolle’s shift began at 10:00 p.m. Ingraham told Knolle that she was having
contractions. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Knolle and Franklin accompanied a certified
nursing assistant (“CNA”) to Ingraham’s cell, and the CNA checked Ingraham’s vital
signs and felt for contractions. Kelly replaced Franklin as on-duty sergeant at some
point subsequent to that check-up. At approximately 10:45 p.m., nurse Irene Naputi
performed a pad count and did not observe any mucus. When Kelly went on duty, he
heard Ingraham yelling from her cell. Ingraham told Kelly she was in labor and in pain.
Doc. 227-2 at 72.
A dry cell is a cell in which an inmate cannot flush the toilet unless prison administrators
turn on the water. Doc. 262-1 at 6. Although some evidence indicates that Timis ordered the
dry cell, Franklin stated that he “put her on dry cell” because Timis “put her on pad count.”
Compare doc. 224-1 at 29 with 262-1 at 6.
Kelly told Ingraham that he would inform the medical staff. Kelly contacted Naputi who
sent the CNA to check Ingraham’s vital signs at 12:31 a.m. on September 10.
At around 1:00 a.m. on September 10, 2006, Ingraham gave birth to M.M. in her
cell. Knolle reported seeing Ingraham holding a baby at 1:10 a.m. and emergency
medical personnel was on site by 1:15 a.m.
Ingraham and Garza, individually and on behalf of M.M., filed a lawsuit against
the Yuma County Jail District, Felix, Kelly, Franklin, Wilson, and Knolle, other county
officials and various employees of Northend. Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges that all
defendants deprived them of their civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and that all
defendants were negligent.
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is appropriate where “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and . . . the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”6 The
materiality requirement ensures that “only disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary
judgment.”7 Ultimately, “summary judgment will not lie if the . . . evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”8 In resolving a motion
for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
non-moving party.9 The reviewing court may not weigh evidence or assess the
credibility of witnesses.10 The burden of persuasion is on the moving party.11
Because plaintiffs do not oppose the motion as it pertains to Felix, Wilson, or
Knolle, the court need only consider the merits of defendants’ arguments concerning
Franklin and Kelly. Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not shown that Franklin or
Kelly were deliberately indifferent to any serious medical need, that even if they were,
they are entitled to qualified immunity. Because defendants’ entitlement to qualified
immunity hinges in part on whether plaintiffs have shown a constitutional violation, the
court will first consider defendants’ arguments with respect to plaintiffs’ § 1983 claim.
A. Deliberate Indifference
In order to prevail on their § 1983 claims, plaintiffs must demonstrate that
Franklin and Kelly acted with “deliberate indifference to [Ingraham’s] serious medical
needs.”12 Negligence does not necessarily constitute deliberate indifference.13
Deliberate indifference requires subjective awareness of a serious medical need and a
failure to adequately respond to that need.14 Defendants’ overarching argument is that
Franklin and Kelly were responsive to Ingraham’s complaints–“every time Ingraham
Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122 (9th Cir. 2000).
Dominguez-Curry v. Nevada Transp. Dept., 424 F.3d 1027, 1036 (9th Cir. 2005).
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 104 (1976).
Id. at 106.
Simmons v. Navajo County, 609 F.3d 1011, 1017–18 (9th Cir. 2010).
complained of a medical condition the detention staff informed the medical staff of the
problem.”15 The court will consider the evidence in context of each defendant.
1. Sergeant Franklin
Defendants argue that Franklin accompanied Timis to Ingraham’s examination
after learning that Ingraham had jumped or fallen on her abdomen. Defendants also
argue that Timis told Franklin that Ingraham was not in labor and did not need to go to
the hospital, and Franklin relied on those representations. The problem with
defendants’ arguments is that deliberate indifference is not limited to a wholesale failure
to respond, but may involve a failure to adequately respond.16
Whether Franklin was aware of Ingraham’s precise diagnoses is immaterial.17
He was aware of reports that she was jumping or falling onto her abdomen in order to
trigger a miscarriage.18 That awareness is demonstrated by his statements to Ingraham
that restraints19 or suicide watch may be necessary and by his later statement to
Ingraham that she might be charged with a crime if she successfully terminated her
pregnancy while in jail.20 Franklin was also aware that Ingraham was experiencing
Doc. 225 at 8.
See Simmons, 609 F.3d at 1018; see also Hutchinson v. United States, 838 F.2d 390,
394 (9th Cir. 1988) (Deliberate indifference “may appear when prison officials deny, delay, or
intentionally interfere with medical treatment, or it may be shown by the way in which prison
physicians provide medical care.”).
See doc. 227-2 at 72.
Doc. 224-1 at 22.
Id. at 17.
Id. at 27.
vaginal bleeding.21 He was also aware of Ingraham’s complaints that she was in
serious pain. Franklin knew that Ingraham claimed she was having contractions.22
Even if Franklin did not subjectively believe Ingraham to be in labor–based on his
reliance on Timis or otherwise–he had enough information to potentially conclude that
Ingraham should be hospitalized or that some other action should be taken. Franklin’s
stated reliance on Timis’s purported expertise is not dispositive because Franklin had
the authority as supervising sergeant to override the medical staff.23 A reasonable jury
could therefore conclude that Franklin’s various responses were inadequate.
2. Sergeant Kelly
Defendants maintain that Kelly was “attentive to plaintiff Ingraham’s complaints
on several occasions during his shift.”24 Franklin briefed Kelly regarding Ingraham at
the outset of his shift.25 Kelly was under the impression–regardless of whether
Ingraham actually did intentionally jump or fall on her belly–that Ingraham had been
attempting to trigger a miscarriage.26 He heard Ingraham yelling when he came on
duty, and Ingraham told him that she was in labor.27 Kelly was also aware that
Doc. 227-1 at 22.
Id. at 27–28.
Id. at 72.
Doc. 225 at 10.
Doc. 247-10 at 2.
Ingraham had been complaining that she was in labor for the duration of Knolle’s shift.28
Kelly knew that Ingraham was bleeding, though he claims he was under the impression
that the bleeding was insubstantial.29 Kelly responded by informing Naputi of
Ingraham’s complaints, and Kelly relied on Naputi’s assessment that Ingraham was fine.
Kelly also accompanied the CNA who checked Ingraham’s vital signs, and instructed
Knolle to monitor Ingraham’s behavior.30 However, as plaintiffs point out, Kelly did not
have any indication that Naputi ever examined Ingraham. Because Kelly had the same
information available to him that Franklin did, a reasonable jury could conclude that his
response was inadequate.
B. Qualified Immunity
Qualified immunity “protects government officials 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.”31 Qualified immunity is
immunity from having to defend a lawsuit, not just a defense to liability.32 The Supreme
Court has accordingly “stressed the importance of resolving immunity questions at the
earliest possible stage in litigation.”33
Doc. 227-2 at 105.
See doc. 247-10 at 2.
Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (internal quotations omitted).
Id. (internal quotations omitted).
Id. at 232 (internal quotations omitted).
In Saucier v. Katz,34 the Supreme Court mandated a two-part test to determine
whether an official was entitled to qualified immunity. At the summary judgment stage,
“a court must decide whether the facts that [the] plaintiff has . . . shown . . . make out a
violation of a constitutional right.”35 If so, “the court must decide whether the right at
issue was clearly established at the time of [the] defendant’s alleged misconduct.”36 In
Pearson v. Callahan, the Supreme Court determined that “while the sequence set forth
[in Saucier] is often appropriate . . . district courts and . . . courts of appeals should be
permitted to exercise their . . . discretion in deciding which of the two prongs . . . should
be addressed first.”37
Defendants’ only developed argument is that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate
violation of a constitutional right. That argument fails for the reasons discussed
above–a jury could conclude that Franklin and Kelly were deliberately indifferent to
Ingraham’s serious medical needs based on inferences drawn from the information
known to them.
The only argument that defendants did not violate a clearly established right is a
one-sentence assertion that plaintiffs have not met their burden to show a clearly
533 U.S. 194, 201 (2001).
Pearson, 555 U.S. at 232.
Id. at 236.
established right,38 citing Sweaney v. ADA County, Idaho39 and Trevino v. Gates.40
Defendants are correct that the burden Is on plaintiffs to show the right was clearly
established. However, Sweaney is of no avail. There, the issue was whether a parent
has a clearly established constitutional “right to inflict corporal punishment upon a
child.”41 Trevino is also inapposite. There, defendants were city council members who
had voted to pay punitive damages. Trevino’s theory of liability was that by doing so
they had condoned and encouraged police brutality. Not surprisingly, the Ninth Circuit
wrote “the law is not sufficiently clear that a reasonable Council member would
understand that payment of punitive damages violates any constitutional right.”42 Here,
the question is whether correctional officers would have known that an incarcerated
person has a clearly established right not to be denied care for a serious medical need
by virtue of the officers’ deliberate indifference to the plight of the inmate. The law on
this point is well-established. Consequently, defendants’ qualified immunity argument
C. Negligence Claims
Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not presented any evidence that Franklin or
Kelly’s conduct “create[d] an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to others [and] involve[d]
Doc. 225 at 10. Defendants also incorporate by reference the qualified immunity
arguments made by co-defendants Ogden and McGregor at doc. 226, 9-10. A review of those
arguments discloses nothing to support defendants’ position here.
119 F.3d 1385 (9th Cir. 1997).
99 F.3d 911 (9th Cir. 1996).
Sweaney, 119 F. 3d at 1389.
Trevino, 99 F.3d at 917.
a high probability that substantial harm w[ould] result.”43 The court need not determine
whether any evidence offered by plaintiffs suggests that Franklin or Kelly behaved
wantonly. Even though plaintiffs’ complaint recites a claim under the heading
“Negligence and/or Gross Negligence,” it is clear from the body of that claim that it is
one for simple negligence.44 In their reply brief defendants argue that they are entitled
to summary judgment on plaintiffs’ negligence claim because “at every juncture [they]
obtained medical care for . . . Ingraham when they were made aware of her
[complaints].”45 They argue that Franklin and Kelly’s only duty “was to notify medical
staff.”46 Franklin and Kelly had a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances.
Whether they discharged that duty with respect to Ingraham is a jury question.
D. Punitive Damages
Defendants claim that they are not liable for punitive damages. Plaintiffs do not
oppose this aspect of defendants’ motion.47
For the reasons above, defendants’ motion at docket 225 for summary judgment
pursuant to Rule 56 is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as follows:
Walls v. Ariz. Dep’t of Pub. Safety, 826 P.2d 1217, 1221 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1991).
See Doc. 272 ¶¶ 74–81.
Doc. 258 at 7.
Id. at 7.
Doc. 248 at 17.
1) It is granted as to defendants Felix, Wilson, and Knolle. All claims against
those defendants are DISMISSED.
2) It is granted with respect to plaintiffs’ punitive damages claims against
defendants Franklin and Kelly. Those claims are DISMISSED.
3) It is denied as to the § 1983 and simple negligence claims against defendants
Franklin and Kelly.
DATED this 22nd day of November 2011.
JOHN W. SEDWICK
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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