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Bramble v. Campbell County

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 27, 2013

WILLIAM J. BRAMBLE, JR., ET AL., Plaintiffs,



This is an action by former detainees at the Campbell County Detention Center (CCDC) against the jail, and against Southern Health Partners (SHP), alleging cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments and plaintiffs' civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs also allege state law claims.

This matter is before the Court on the motion of the Campbell County defendants for summary judgment as to plaintiff, Bryan Huffman (Doc. 79), and the motion for partial summary judgment of Southern Health Partners, as to plaintiff, Bryan Huffman (Doc. 80).

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.


A. 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. (Holt, Doc. 132 Ex. 1).[1] 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 August 27, 2010, as a proposed class action. (Doc. 1). On September 24, 2010, plaintiffs filed a Second Amended Class Action Complaint, which is the operative complaint herein. (Doc. 5). Plaintiffs allege that they were denied medical attention for their serious medical needs in violation of their 5th, 8th and 14th Amendment rights. (Doc. 5 ¶ 16, ¶¶ 366-69). Plaintiffs also allege Kentucky statutory claims ( Id. at ¶¶ 370-71), negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress ( Id. at ¶¶ 372-73), negligence ( Id. at ¶¶ 374-75), loss of consortium ( Id. at ¶¶ 376-77), and wrongful death ( Id. at ¶¶ 378-79).

On March 25, 2011, the parties stipulated to dismissal of plaintiffs' class action allegations. (Doc. 28). Discovery ensued and, after numerous extensions, the pending motions for summary judgment were filed and briefed.

B. Plaintiff Bryan Huffman

Bryan Huffman ("Huffman") was incarcerated at the CCDC from April 25, 2010 to January 10, 2011. (Doc. 79 Ex. 3; Doc. 80 Ex. 3 p. 17). This lawsuit was filed August 27, 2010 and the amended complaint was filed September 24, 2010. (Doc. 1, Doc. 5).

When Huffman was admitted to the CCDC he indicated he was being treated for a collapsed lung and diabetes. (Doc. 79 Ex. 6, 7). In addition, Huffman was advised that the Rules and Regulations of the CCDC were displayed on channels 1 and 6 of CCDC's Television Broadcast System. (Doc. 79 Ex. 5). On April 25, 2010, the SHP staff saw Huffman and completed a Medical Staff Receiving Form, again noting the collapsed lung and diabetes. (Doc. 79 Ex. 8). However, Huffman's only complaint in this lawsuit relates to a hand injury. (Doc. 80 Ex. 3. p. 93, 97; Doc. 5 ¶¶ 312-23).

In May or June 2010, Huffman was moved into Cell 109, which had a sharp metal anchor protruding from the wall where a table used to be attached. (Doc. 80 Ex. 3 p. 94). Huffman was assigned to the top bunk, even though during a previous incarceration he had been "bottom bunk" restricted. ( Id. at p. 93-94). Huffman alleges he spoke to at least three people about his top bunk situation. (Doc. 135-1 p. 108-09). Huffman never submitted a grievance to notify jail administrators about the danger of the sharp metal wall anchor or his top bunk situation. (Doc 135-1 p. 104-05, 109-10).

On June 12, 2010, Huffman was climbing off his bunk, his "leg gave out, " and his hand hit the sharp metal anchor. (Doc. 80 Ex. 3 p. 94). As a result, Huffman's hand was severely injured, suffering major tendon damage. (Doc. 135-1 p. 113-15, 124). Huffman was transported to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Hospital where he was diagnosed with a laceration, prescribed an antibiotic and discharged with orders to follow up with a specialist. (Doc 79 Ex. 10). Huffman was returned to the CCDC and placed on medical watch. (Doc. 80 Ex. 4).

Huffman alleges he was to be taken for a follow-up appointment on June 14, 2010, but the Emergency Room discharge instructions informed Huffman to seek a specialist. (Id.) Further, Huffman alleges he was prescribed Percocet after his injury on June 12 and denied it until after the June 23 surgery, and that the SHP staff failed to properly monitor his bandages during this time. (Doc. 135-1 p 129-32, 135-36).

On June 15, 2010, SHP contacted Dr. Baker, a specialist, and set up an appointment on June 21, 2010. (Doc. 80 Ex. 4). On June 21, Dr. Baker determined Huffman needed surgery and scheduled it for June 23, 2010. (Doc. 80 Ex. 7). On June 23, Dr. Baker performed surgery on Huffman and released him back to the CCDC. (Id.)

After Huffman's surgery on June 23, he was given Percocet three times daily as well as an antibiotic. (Doc. 80 Ex. 8). On June 26, the jail physician increased his Percocet to four times daily. (Id.)

On June 29, 2010, Huffman removed his cast against Dr. Baker's instructions and the SHP medical staff rewrapped his hand. (Doc. 80 Ex. 4). On July 2, 2010, Huffman went to Dr. Baker for a post-operative examination and Dr. Baker recommended hand therapy. (Doc. 80 Ex. 9). Dr. Baker recommended a walk-in appointment, that day, to begin hand therapy, but the guards stated it was not possible. (Id.)

On July 12, 2010, Huffman wrote a grievance directed to Defendant Fickenscher about a deputy's decision to place Huffman in disciplinary segregation. (Doc. 79 Ex. 15). Defendant Fickenscher's received stamp was used on the grievance indicating he received it, but Capt. Talbot actually responded to it. (Doc. 79 Ex. 16). Capt. Talbot denied Huffman's grievance on July 13, 2010 because Huffman had been in multiple arguments with, and made threats against, CCDC and SHP staff in the days prior. (Doc. 79 Ex. 16).

Huffman's main complaint in the grievance was about the disciplinary action taken against him. (Doc. 79 Ex. 15). But Huffman also alleged in his grievance that he was denied medication from July 8-12, which was the cause of his bad behavior. (Id.) However, the CCDC records show he was offered his medication but he refused to take it because it caused him an upset stomach. (Doc. 79 Ex. 17). Huffman was offered Zantac along with his Ibuprofen to address his stomach pain, but he still refused. (Doc 80, Ex. 10). Huffman's grievance also states he was given pain medication on July 12, the date of the grievance. (Doc. 79 Ex. 15). Huffman never appealed Capt. Talbot's denial of his grievance. (Doc. 79 Ex 4).

Huffman went to hand therapy on July 12 and 14, and saw Dr. Baker again on July 19, 2010. (Doc. 80 Ex. 12). In addition, Dr. Baker notes that Huffman told him he had been keeping his hand elevated at night, with extra blankets, as requested by Dr. Baker. (Id.)

On July 20, 2010, the SHP medical staff responded to Huffman's cell because he complained he fell. (Doc. 79 Ex. 9). SHP ordered x-rays which came back as normal and Huffman was moved to a bottom bunk at this time. (Id.; Doc. 80 Ex. 13). Huffman also signed a Patient ...

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