Holt et al v. Campbell County, Kentucky et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER: It is ordered motion of the Campbell County defendants for partial summary judgment as to plaintiff, James Stull 141 be and is hereby GRANTED; 2) the motion of Southern Health Partners for summary judgment as to plaint iff, James Stull 208 be and is hereby GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFF'S FEDERAL CLAIM and 3) Plaintiff James Stull's state law claims be and hereby are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge William O. Bertelsman on 09/17/2013.(TED)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, James Stull (Doc. 141),
and the motion of Southern Health Partners for summary
judgment as to plaintiff, James Stull.
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 James Stull
Plaintiff James Stull was booked into the CCDC on
October 26, 2009, after being arrested for drunk driving.
(Doc. 141 Exh. 2).
He received a five-day sentence and was
released on October 30, 2009.
(Id. Exh. 3).
Stull advised the booking staff that he required
treatment for various medical conditions, including high
blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression,
hepatitis C, and seizures.
(Id. Exh. 6).
He also advised
the staff that he had attempted suicide four times, and
that he had been hospitalized in the last year for
overdosing on his blood pressure medicine.
Although the records do not reflect it, Stull alleges that
he also told unknown deputies that he had sleep apnea and
needed to sleep with a C-PAP machine.
The intake form indicates that Stull stated that he
believed he should be separated from other inmates at the
jail, and that he understood he could request health care
at the jail.
Based on this information, the jail
placed Stull on “high watch” and put him in an isolation
Stull alleges that he was placed in a “turtle suit”
–- described as a green hospital gown which came down to
his knees with padding down the front and Velcro straps
around the sides (Stull Depo. 123, 156) –- which did not
cover his entire body such that he was cold, embarrassed,
However, Stull was also given a
(Stull Depo. 157).
After booking, Stull saw a member of the medical staff
and advised her of his medical conditions.
Stull Depo. 137).
(Id. Exh. 5;
The nurse explained that any medications
that were brought in by family members for an inmate would
have to be verified with the pharmacists or prescribing
(Stull Depo. 138).
Stull is not sure if he
told the nurse about his sleep apnea because he was still
intoxicated at the time.
(Stull Depo. 174).
Medical staff records reflect that, after this initial
screening, Stull was given his nighttime dosages of
medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure,
seizures, and anxiety: Gemfibrozil, Metroprolol,
Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Sprironolactone, and
(Doc. 208 Exh. 4).
The form also states that
Stull was to continue to receive these medications while
Medical records indicate that all these
medicines, except for the Promethazine, were given to Stull
during the five days he was at the CCDC.
(Doc. 208 Exh.
Stull called his mother to bring his medications and
his C-PAP machine.
Medical records note that 5 Tramadol,
11 Zolpidem Tartate (Ambien), and 2 Clonazepam were brought
in for Stull.
These medications do not appear to have been
given to Stull but they were returned to him upon
(Doc. 208 Exh. 7).
However, Stull’s mother did not bring his C-PAP
machine, and no one at the jail ever told him he would not
be allowed to use it.
(Stull Depo. 169-70).1
Despite the above records, Stull alleges that, other
than one pill for blood pressure, he received no medication
during his stay at the CCDC.
However, Stull submitted no
sick call slips asking for medications or medical
(Stull Depo. 136).
He claims, however, that he
told Deputy Kunkel2 repeatedly that he needed his
medications, and Kunkel told him they would call the nurse.
(Stull Depo. 145-47).
Stull alleges that he suffered chest pains, vomiting,
sweating, water retention, stomach pain, swelling in his
ankles, and headaches as a result of the alleged failure to
receive his medications.
(Stull Depo. 149-52).
1 Stull’s assertion in his brief that he was “denied his
CPAP machine” is thus flatly contradicted by his own
testimony. See Doc. 174 at 3. His same assertion in his
later affidavit thus contradicts his deposition testimony,
see Doc. 174-1 ¶ 10, and raises no triable issue. See
Aerel, S.R.L. v. PCC Airfoils, L.L.C., 448 F.3d 899, 906
(6th Cir. 2006).
2 Deputy Kunkel is not a defendant in this action.
that he told unnamed deputies that he needed to see a
He also testified that he could not sleep
due to anxiety about not having a C-PAP machine.
Stull also alleges that he was forced to take four
very cold showers while incarcerated.
Stull filed no
grievances concerning any of these matters.
Twenty days after his discharge from the CCDC, Stull
saw his treating physician, who noted that Stull had gained
nine pounds in the past month, but that his blood pressure
had been checked regularly and had good readings.
208 Exh. 8).
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 Stull’s Claims
Objectively Serious Medical Condition
Defendants assume for purposes of summary judgment
that Stull suffered from one or more objectively serious
health conditions or that there is a triable issue on that
The Court thus also assumes that this element is
Construing the evidence in Stull’s favor, no
reasonable jury could conclude that any of the CCDC
defendants were deliberately indifferent to his medical
Stull has conceded that he has no claim against
defendants Daley, Fletcher, and Fickenscher, thus leaving
Greg Buckler as the only individual CCDC defendant.
174 at 1).
However, Stull testified that, other than
seeing Buckler walk through a door on one occasion, he had
no interaction with Buckler during his incarceration.
(Stull Depo. 62-63).
See also Doc. 174 at 6 (“Defendant
Buckler had almost no contact with the general population,
much less with Mr. Stull specifically.”).
Nor did Stull
file any grievance concerning the alleged deficiencies in
his medical care.
There is thus no evidence that Buckler
had any knowledge or awareness of Stull’s alleged medical
needs, and he cannot have been deliberately indifferent to
them as a matter of law.3
As to Campbell County itself, Stull’s claim fails
because he has shown no violation of his constitutional
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 omitted).
Stull also has adduced no admissible evidence of a
clear and persistent pattern of deliberate indifference to
inmate medical needs.
This Court has already held that the
same affidavits submitted by plaintiff here regarding
allegedly poor care at the CCDC are: (1) inadmissible for a
variety of reasons, and (2) even if admissible, inadequate
as a matter of law to support a municipal liability claim
against Campbell County.
Fryman v. Campbell County,
Stull argues that Buckler was aware generally of problems
with the medical care at the CCDC. (Doc. 174 at 6-8).
That, of course, provides no basis for the claim against
this defendant in his individual capacity where it is
undisputed that he played no role in Stull’s medical care.
Covington Civil Action No. 09-114-WOB-JGW, Docs. 25, 30.
For these reasons, all the CCDC defendants are
entitled to summary judgment.4
No reasonable jury could find that the SHP defendants
were deliberately indifferent to a risk of serious harm to
First, Stull has conceded that he has no claim against
defendants Pangallo, Mullins, and Evans because they did
not work at the CCDC during the time period in question.
(Doc. 214 at 1).
This leaves SHP defendants Dr. Waldridge, Betty Dawes,
and Josh Ernest.5
However, Stull has adduced no evidence
that he had any contact with these three defendants while
incarcerated at the CCDC.
In fact, in his response to
SHP’s motion for summary judgment, Stull makes no
allegation that any of these three defendants had any
The Court thus need not reach the issue of qualified
immunity, although the individual defendants would
obviously be entitled to that defense given the absence of
any constitutional violation.
5 There are other individuals named as SHP defendants still
showing on the docket of this case (Jamie Winters, Stevie
Mullins, Ms. Taylor, and Danielle Tucker), but the parties
do not discuss them in their briefs. Because Stull has
adduced no evidence pertaining to these defendants, the
Court assumes that he has abandoned any claims he had
knowledge of Stull or his medical conditions.
A review of the pertinent medical records indicates
that the nurse who conducted Stull’s initial screening and
who, according to the records, began giving him his
medications, was Jillian Hehman.
(Doc. 208-4 at 2).
Hehman was also one of the persons who recorded the receipt
of some of the medications that Stull’s mother brought to
(Doc. 208-8 at 2).
However, Hehman is not a
Nor is “Amy R.,” who also recorded the
receipt of some of Stull’s medications from his mother.
(Doc. 208-8 at 3).
With no evidence of any knowledge of Stull’s medical
conditions on the part of these individuals, Stull cannot
show that they were deliberately indifferent to his medical
Further, under the above authority, absent a showing
of an underlying constitutional violation, Stull can state
no claim against SHP as an entity.
In addition, for the
same reasons discussed as to the CCDC defendants, Stull has
adduced no admissible evidence to establish any
unconstitutional pattern or policy by SHP relating to
inmate medical care.
There are other flaws in Stull’s deliberate
indifference claim, but they need not be addressed here
given that Stull has failed the threshold requirement of
showing that the individuals named as defendants had any
knowledge of his medical needs.
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,
James Stull (Doc. 141) be, and is hereby, GRANTED; (2) the
motion of Southern Health Partners for summary judgment as
to plaintiff, James Stull (Doc. 208) be, and is hereby,
GRANTED AS TO PLAINTIFF’S FEDERAL CLAIM; and (3) Plaintiff
James Stull’s state law claims be, and are hereby,
DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.
This 17th day of September, 2013.
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