Holt et al v. Campbell County, Kentucky et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: the motion of the Campbell Countydefendants for partial summary judgment as to plaintiff, Jeffrey Clint Turner 138 is GRANTED;(2) the motion of Southern Health Partners for summaryjudgment as to plaintiff, Jeffrey Clint Turner 211 is hereby, GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFFS FEDERAL CLAIM; and (3) Plaintiff Jeffrey Clint Turners state law claims be hereby, DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 6/19/2013.(LMB)cc: COR
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2009-082 (WOB-JGW)
ANTHONY HOLT, ET AL.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CAMPBELL COUNTY, KENTUCKY,
This is an action by former detainees at the Campbell
County Detention Center (CCDC) against the County and
Southern Health Partners (SHP) alleging cruel and unusual
punishment in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments and
plaintiffs= civil rights under 42 U.S.C. ' 1983.
also allege state law claims.
This matter is currently before the Court on the
motion of the Campbell County defendants for partial
summary judgment as to plaintiff, Jeffrey Clint Turner
(Doc. 138), and the motion of Southern Health Partners for
summary judgment as to plaintiff, Jeffrey Clint Turner.
Having reviewed the parties’ briefs, the Court
concludes that oral argument is unnecessary to the
resolution of these motions.
The Court therefore issues
the following Memorandum Opinion and Order.
Factual and Procedural Background
Facts Common to All Claims
Since February 1, 2007, the CCDC has had a contract
with SHP pursuant to which SHP provides “all professional
medical, mental health, dental and related health care and
administrative services” for CCDC inmates, including sick
call, nursing care, regular and emergency physician care.
SHP, in turn, contracts with a physician and
employs nurses to staff the CCDC.
These arrangements were
in place at all times relevant to this action.
Plaintiffs filed this case on June 17, 2009, as a
proposed class action.
On June 1, 2010,
plaintiff filed a Second Amended Class Action Complaint,
which is the operative complaint herein.
Plaintiffs allege that they were denied medical attention
for their serious medical needs in violation of their 8th
and 14th Amendment rights.
(Doc. 38 ¶¶ 331-32).
also allege negligent or intentional infliction of
emotional distress, negligence, loss of consortium, and
On July 9, 2010, this Court denied plaintiffs’ motion
for class certification.
Discovery ensued and,
after numerous extensions, the pending motions for summary
judgment were filed and briefed.
Plaintiff Jeffrey Clint Turner
Plaintiff Jeffrey Clint Turner (“Turner”) was
incarcerated at the CCDC from August 21, 2008 to May 4,
Although Turner alleges that he had been previously
diagnosed with hepatitis C, Wilson’s Disease, and anemia,
at the time he was incarcerated he was not undergoing any
treatment for those conditions.1
(Turner Depo. 52).
Medical Condition/Health History Profile form completed by
a deputy at booking indicates that Turner reported
diagnoses of Wilson’s Disease and hepatitis/jaundice.
Turner testified, however, that he did not
tell the deputies that he needed any treatment because it
(Turner Depo. 63-65).
The day after he was booked into the CCDC, Turner was
examined by SHP medical staff, and a nurse completed a
Medical Intake Screening form.
Turner indicated on this
form that he had no medical conditions and had been
prescribed valium on occasion.
Turner had been diagnosed with anemia and hepatitis C in
2007 while incarcerated at the Hardin County Detention
Center, at which time he disclosed that he had a 7-year IV
heroin habit. He was treated for the anemia at a local
hospital with a blood transfusion and iron supplements.
(Doc. 138-8 at 3). He was no longer taking the iron
supplements at the time he was booked into the CCDC.
(Turner Depo. 137). As Turner’s own expert notes, there is
no documentation of Turner’s alleged diagnosis of Wilson’s
Disease, a disorder of the liver that causes a buildup of
copper in the body. (Doc. 138-8 at 4-5).
In October 2008, Turner requested lotion for dry skin
and, on October 26, 2008, he requested dental services for
a tooth that he reported he had been having problems with
for several months.
When he was not promptly seen for the
dental problem, Turner sent another request and, on
November 30, 2008, he was issued pain medication and was
assured he was on the dentist’s list.
Turner had two teeth
pulled on December 30, 2008.
Between November 2008 and February 2009, Turner
submitted four sick call requests for rashes, follow up on
his teeth, and allergies, all of which were responded to by
the medical staff.
Turner alleges that for a few weeks in
November/December 2008, 3-7 days in January 2009, and 3-7
days in February or March, 2009, he experienced headaches,
nausea, lightheadedness, fatigue and a feeling which made
him suspect he was bleeding internally.
(Turner Depo. 70-
He alleges that he submitted sick call slips during
these spells directly to the nurses on duty, but the jail
records contain no such slips.
(Turner Depo. 77-78).
Although Turner’s responsive memoranda argue that he
received no responses to these medical requests, Turner
testified in his deposition that he was seen by nurses in
response to these sick call slips.
nurses would ask him about his symptoms, take his vital
signs and temperature, and they once drew his blood,
although he did not learn any results from the blood tests.
(Turner Depo. 135-36).
On April 10, 2009, Turner completed an Inmate Sick
Call Slip stating as his problem: “sick to stomach,
However, Turner subsequently
refused treatment, stating “issue resolved.”
Turner filed no grievances at the CCDC during this
(Turner Depo. 40).
Turner was discharged from the CCDC on May 4, 2009.
Following his discharge, Turner went to the emergency
room at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Ft. Thomas complaining of
fatigue and lightheadedness.
Blood tests were done, and
the hospital staff told Turner he was “fine.”
Depo. 56-57, 80).
Section 1983 prohibits any “person who, under color of
any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of
any State” from depriving any U.S. citizen “of any rights,
privileges, or immunities secured by the constitution and
Plaintiff argues that his Eighth Amendment rights
to be free from cruel and unusual punishment were violated.
“As applied to prisoners, this constitutional
guarantee encompasses a right to medical care for serious
Perez v. Oakland County, 466 F.3d 416, 423
(6th Cir. 2006) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
However, because the Eighth Amendment
prohibits mistreatment only if it is tantamount to
“punishment,” courts have imposed liability upon prison
officials only where they are “so deliberately indifferent
to the serious medical needs of prisoners as to
unnecessarily and wantonly inflict pain.”
Perez, 466 F.3d
at 423 (internal quotations and citation omitted).
“Negligence or medical malpractice alone cannot
sustain an Eighth Amendment claim, absent a showing of
Id. (citing Estelle, 429 U.S. at
“Deliberate indifference” has both an objective and a
Id. (citing Comstock v. McCrary, 273
F.3d 693, 702 (6th Cir. 2001)).
With respect to medical
needs, the need “must be objectively, ‘sufficiently
Id. at 423-24 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511
U.S. 825, 834 (1994)).
“In considering the subjective component, this circuit
has emphasized that a plaintiff must produce evidence
showing that the official being sued subjectively perceived
facts from which to infer substantial risk to the prisoner,
that he did in fact draw the inference, and that he then
disregarded that risk.”
and citation omitted).
Id. at 424 (internal quotations
“[A]n official’s failure to
alleviate a significant risk that he should have perceived
but did not, while no cause for commendation, cannot under
our cases be condemned as the infliction of punishment.”
Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 838 (1994).
See also id.
at 842 (official must act or fail to act “despite his
knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm”).
The subjective component “prevents medical-malpractice
claims from being transformed into constitutional claims.”
Quigley v. Thai, 707 F.3d 675, 681 (6th Cir. 2013)
Assuming a plaintiff raises a triable issue as to
whether a constitutional violation occurred, a public
official sued in his or her individual capacity may still
be shielded from suit under the doctrine of qualified
All defendants here assert this defense.
“The doctrine of 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.’” Pearson v. Callahan,
129 S. Ct. 808, 815 (2009) (quoting Harlow v. Fitzgerald,
457 U.S. 800, 818 (1982)).
“The protection of qualified
immunity applies regardless of whether the government
official’s error is ‘a mistake of law, a mistake of fact,
or a mistake based on mixed questions of law and fact.’”
Id. (quoting Groh v. Ramirez, 540 U.S. 551, 567 (2004)
(Kennedy, J., dissenting)).
Application to Turner’s Claims
Objectively Serious Medical Condition
Turner’s deliberate indifference claim fails as a
matter of law.
First, no reasonable jury could find that,
at the time he was incarcerated at the CCDC in 2008-2009,
Turner was suffering from an objectively serious medical
condition requiring treatment.
“A plaintiff may establish the serious medical needs
requirement in one of two ways.
First a medical need is
sufficiently serious if it is ‘so obvious that even a lay
person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s
Blosser v. Gilbert, 422 F. App’x 453, 460
(6th Cir. 2011) (quoting Blackmore v. Kalamazoo County, 390
F.3d 890, 897 (6th Cir. 2004)).
Second, “if the medical need is less obvious, its
seriousness is evaluated by the effect of delay in
treatment,” and plaintiff must “place verifying medical
evidence in the record to establish the detrimental effect
of the delay in medical treatment.”
Turner testified that the fatigue and nausea he
experienced could not be observed by another person.
(Turner Depo. 87)
Under the above standard, therefore,
Turner must produce verifying medical evidence to
demonstrate a detrimental effect of the alleged delay in
As to the existence or seriousness of his alleged
medical conditions, Turner testified that he has never
received any treatment for his alleged condition of
Wilson’s disease, that he is not even sure he actually has
hepatitis C, and that he has never received any treatment
for that condition.
(Turner Depo. 52-54).
treatment he received for anemia after being released from
Hardin County, prior to his CCDC incarceration, was to take
over-the-counter iron pills.
(Turner Depo. 59).
Plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Joseph Paris, opined that
there is no evidence that Turner had actually been
diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease or that he was ever on any
medications for such a condition.
(Doc. 138-8 at 4-5).
Dr. Paris also opined with respect to Tuner’s hepatitis C
that Turner was “asymptomatic” while incarcerated at the
CCDC and that he was not a candidate for the lengthy
hepatitis treatment regimen because he was incarcerated for
only nine months.
(Id. at 5).
As to any detrimental effects resulting from the
alleged denial of proper medical treatment, Dr. Paris
opined: “None known.”
Turner, in fact, testified
that he had received no medical care for his alleged
conditions since being released from Hardin County in early
(Turner Depo. 47, 84).
He also testified that he
had no physical injury as a result of the alleged denial of
care at the CCDC and that he cannot say that his condition
is any worse than prior to his incarceration.
After he was released from the CCDC in 2009, Turner
made one visit to the emergency room (because he had no
family doctor) due to fatigue, lightheadedness, and
shortness of breath.
The ER staff performed blood work on
him and told him he was fine.
(Turner Depo. 57).
Turner thus cannot show as a matter of law that, while
incarcerated at the CCDC, he suffered from a serious
medical condition cognizable under the Eighth Amendment.
All defendants are thus entitled to summary judgment on
Turner’s § 1983 claim on this basis.
Second, there is no evidence from which a reasonable
jury could conclude that any of the defendants were
deliberately indifferent to Turner’s medical needs.
own expert, Dr. Paris, opined: “All of Turner’s requests
prompted a medical visit and appropriate treatments.”
(Doc. 138-8 at 4).
Dr. Paris’s only criticism was that it
took “a bit long” for Turner’s tooth extraction.
Specifically as to the CCDC defendants, it is not
disputed that the deputy jailers do not make decisions as
to which inmates receive medical care or what care they
receive; rather, those decisions are made by the medical
(Turner Depo. 82-83).
Inmates submit sick call
slips directly to the nurses, who decide what action to
take in response.
Moreover, Turner testified that he does not know who
Jim Daley is and has never seen him or talked to him.
(Turner Depo. 44).
He further testified that he never
spoke to defendants Buckler, Fletcher, or Fickenscher
regarding his medical care.
(Turner Depo. 45-46).
For these reasons, all the CCDC defendants are
entitled to summary judgment.
As to the SHP defendants, Turner testified that he
should have seen a doctor and had his blood drawn “to make
sure my health and safety wasn’t at risk.”
He testified that the nursing staff told him
that such tests would not be done absent some physical
need, although he concedes his blood was drawn once.
(Turner Depo. 69).
Accepting these allegations and arguments as true, no
reasonable jury could find that the SHP defendants were
deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm to
He concedes that he was under no medical
order to have his blood tested on a regular basis, although
a doctor had previously told him it might be a “good idea.”
(Turner Depo. 69).
Turner has submitted no authority that
a failure to provide essentially preventative medical care
constitutes deliberate indifference.
Moreover, as noted, Turner’s alleged symptoms were not
readily apparent to an observer, and the denial of his
alleged multiple requests to have his blood drawn was based
on the nurses’ observation that he exhibited no symptoms of
It is further undisputed that the responses to all the
other medical requests Tuner made during his stay at CCDC
were, as his own expert states, “appropriate.”
Turner thus cannot raise a triable issue as to whether
the medical staff perceived a serious risk to his health
and then ignored that risk.
With no underlying constitutional violation, Turner
can state no “municipal liability” claim as to Campbell
County and SHP.
See Blackmore v. Kalamazoo County, 390
F.3d 890, 900 (6th Cir. 2004) (“A municipality or county
cannot be liable under § 1983 absent an underlying
constitutional violation by its officers.”) (citation
All defendants are thus entitled to summary judgment
on Turner’s § 1983 claim.
Given this disposition, the
Court will decline to exercise its supplemental
jurisdiction over Turner’s state law claims.
See 28 U.S.C.
Therefore, having reviewed this matter, and the Court
being otherwise sufficiently advised,
IT IS ORDERED that the motion of the Campbell County
defendants for partial summary judgment as to plaintiff,
Jeffrey Clint Turner (Doc. 138) be, and is hereby, GRANTED;
(2) the motion of Southern Health Partners for summary
judgment as to plaintiff, Jeffrey Clint Turner (Doc. 211)
be, and is hereby, GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFF’S FEDERAL CLAIM;
and (3) Plaintiff Jeffrey Clint Turner’s state law claims
be, and are hereby, DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
This 19th day of June, 2013.
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