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Jimenez v. Hopkins County

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

January 13, 2014

CINDY JIMENEZ, Administratrix of the Estate of TYLER BUTLER, deceased, Plaintiffs,
HOPKINS COUNTY, KENTUCKY, et. al., Defendants.


JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion by Defendants, Southern Health Partners, Inc., Henry Davis, M.D., Candace Moss, Renee Keller, Betty Dawes, and Angela Pleasant ("SHP Defendants"), for summary judgment [DN 76]; on a motion by Defendants, Hopkins County, Joe Blue, Jeremy Witherspoon, Teressa Kreitler, Angela Peterson, Eric Poe, Diana Potocnick, and Jessica Bennett ("County Defendants"), in their individual and official capacities, for summary judgment [DN 77], and on a motion by Plaintiff, Cindy Jimenez, Administratrix of the Estate of Tyler Butler, for a hearing on the motions for summary judgment [DN 106]. Fully briefed, these matters are ripe for decision.


Before the Court may grant a motion for summary judgment, it must find that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of specifying the basis for its motion and identifying that portion of the record that demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once the moving party satisfies this burden, the non-moving party thereafter must produce specific facts demonstrating a genuine issue of fact for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

Although the Court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the non-moving party must do more than merely show that there is some "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp. , 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Instead, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the nonmoving party to present specific facts showing that a genuine factual issue exists by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record" or by "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence... of a genuine dispute[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson , 477 U.S. at 252. It is against this standard the Court reviews the following facts.


Plaintiff, Cindy Jimenez, Administratrix of the Estate of Tyler Butler, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the Defendants violated Butler's rights under the Eighth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while he was an inmate in the Hopkins County Detention Center ("HCDC or Jail"). Plaintiff also asserts state law claims for negligence, gross negligence, and the tort of outrage arising from the same conduct.

HCDC contracted with Southern Health Partners ("SHP") to provide medical services for its inmates. SHPS separately contracted with Dr. Henry Davis to act as HCDC medical director. Davis was not a SHP employee. SHP employed nurses and other medical personal at HCDC. In April of 2010, SHP employed Candace Moss, LPN; Betty Dawes, R.N.; Angela Pleasant, LPN; and Renee Keller, LPN.

A. Thursday, April 8, 2010

On Thursday, April 8, 2010, at 4:57 p.m., Tyler Butler (hereinafter "Butler") surrendered himself at HCDC to serve a scheduled sentence for assault. Upon his arrival at the Jail's intake area, Deputy Jailer Sherry McDowell, who was working the control tower, buzzed him through the outer door of the facility into a receiving area, where he was met by Deputy Jailer Rodney Knox. Knox escorted Butler into the facility's booking area. Knox took Butler to a section of the booking area to be fingerprinted. During this procedure, Butler vomited into a trashcan. Knox placed Butler into a diversion cell directly across from the booking desk to await booking. Knox informed his shift supervisor, Deputy Jailer Carl Coy, and Defendant Deputy Jailer Angela Peterson that Butler had vomited.

Peterson served as Butler's booking officer. Peterson testified that Butler communicated to her that he was late for his intake because he had to walk to the Jail from his father's home in Madisonville because he could not find a ride. Peterson indicated that Butler was sweating profusely when she first saw him. Peterson further testified that she was alerted by the control tower operator Sherry McDowell that Butler appeared to have swallowed something as he stood at the booking window. Peterson indicated that Butler's condition noticeably deteriorated between the time of his arrival and the time he was brought into the booking area of the Jail to be processed. According to Peterson,

From the time that he walked in the door, he - I mean, he was really sweaty, but he could actually speak to me. He got to where he could barely even stand up outside. Almost like he was under the influence of something. He could not hardly stand up outside. His eyes was like almost closed, where he was like this (indicating). I mean, like he was really squinting to see.

(Angela Peterson Dep. at 9.) During Butler's medical interview at booking, Butler indicated that he suffered from gout, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA"). Butler also reported that he was taking Prednisone, Seroquel, Allopurinol, and Colchicine and that he had been treated recently for depression. Finally, Peterson testified that Knox reported that Butler had vomited twice.

Based on Butler's responses to the questions and his physical appearance, Peterson testified that she was very concerned and wanted to refuse his admission to the jail. Peterson testified that she did not know if she had authority to refuse a scheduled intake. Peterson contacted her shift supervisor, Deputy Jailer Coy, for instructions. Coy instructed her to contact HCDC's medical department because "it was medical's call." ( Id. at 11.) HCDC's Policy 4.1.2 provides that "[o]nly Medical has authority to refuse intakes for health reasons." (DN 101-4.)

Acting at Coy's direction, Peterson contacted the medical department. Defendant Candace Moss, a SHP employee and an LPN, came to the booking area to examine Butler. Both Moss and the president of SHP, Jennifer Hairsine, testified that an LPN could not diagnose medical conditions nor administer medications without physician approval. Moss testified that at the time she examined Butler she was aware that she was going to make a decision as to whether to authorize or deny Butler's admission to the facility. Peterson testified that she informed Moss of Butler's medical conditions and medications that he had indicated he was taking on admission to the HCDC. According to Moss, Butler reported to her that he had frequent staph infections, currently had a staph infection in his groin area, had been vomiting recently, had not seen a doctor for the staph infection, and had a rash of unknown origins. Moss testified that she did not conduct a physical exam of Butler, take his vital signs, or consult with HCDC's medical director. Moss directed the staff to admit Butler to HCDC to serve his sentence.

Based on the deputy jailers' reports of suspected drug use and Butler's report of a possible staph infection, Moss placed Butler in a 72-hour detox as a precaution. SHP Policy requires that an Alcohol/Drug Withdrawal Flow Chart be prepared for all inmates placed on a 72-hour detox protocol. The chart requires that inmate's vital signs are taken twice a day. Because Moss was at the end of her shift, she did not prepare a chart. Moss testified that she assumed that incoming SHP employee Andy Johnson would start the flow sheet. The record reflects that an Alcohol and Drug Detox Flow Sheet was not prepared. Butler was housed in a detox cell on HCDC's "100 walk."

B. Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10

Surveillance logs for the 100 walk reflect that HCDC staff monitored Butler at 20-minute intervals throughout his time in that cell as required by HCDC policy and Kentucky Administrative Regulations. According to the County Defendants, none of the deputy jailers who monitored Butler during those two days or accompanied a SHP nurse on "med pass" noted or were informed by Butler that he was suffering from any "acute distress, " instead they only noticed that Butler's rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult for Butler to move around. Butler's medical records reflect that his blood pressure was taken by SHP LPN Andy Johnson on April 9, 10, and 11. However, Johnson testified that he does not remember ever touching Butler. No time is specified in the blood pressure record, and there is no other record of any of Butler's other vital signs being taken, or of his appearance, signs, or symptoms. Additionally, the medication administration record (MAR) indicates that Butler was administered Allopurinol, Prednisone, and Quetiapine on April 9, 10, and 11. However, in its written verified responses to discovery, SHP stated that the medical records reflect that Butler received no medication. (DN 101-12.) Further, the record reflects that the medication in question was not prescribed or authorized by Dr. Davis.

Brad Foster, a fellow inmate, testified that he saw Butler on Friday, August 9, when he was handing out dinner trays. Foster testified that he informed a deputy jailer that Butler could not get his tray and the deputy opened the door to allow Foster to give the tray to Butler. Foster testified that he notified the deputy that Butler needed a nurse or doctor because he could tell he was in pain. Additionally, Foster testified that when he entered his room to give him his tray, he could smell urine and feces.

Deputy Jennifer Chambers testified that on Saturday, August 10, she informed Deputy Rodney Knox that Butler had requested a sick-call slip and Knox indicated that he would get Butler one. Chambers indicated that although she wasn't a medical professional, she believed Butler had a need for outside medical care and was at an obvious risk of serious harm. She testified that she would have sent Butler to the hospital, but that she did not have the authority to do so. Chambers further testified that she had never seen anybody in the jail in Butler's condition. Chambers testified that during her shift, Knox indicated to her that Butler did not look good, that Knox had called for medical but they hadn't "came up there yet, " and that Knox appeared frustrated and upset that medical had not come to see Butler. Prior to the end of her shift, Deputy Knox communicated to Chambers that someone from medical came up to Butler's cell.

C. Sunday, April 11

On Sunday, April 11, Deputy Jailer Brandon Lampton started his shift at 6:00 a.m. Among his regular duties, he was assigned the 100 walk observations. Lampton testified that when he first saw Butler, he was sitting on the floor of the cell with his feet straight out in front of him and his back against the wall directly in front of the cell door's window. According to Lampton, he wasn't aware of the reason Butler was in the detox cell, but he assumed it was for medical because it was obvious that he had some issues. Lampton testified that Butler had very limited mobility, his joints were swollen and red, and Lampton could "tell he was hurting." Lampton testified that he asked Butler if he was all right and Butler indicated he was fine. Lampton further testified that he asked Butler what was wrong with him and Butler indicated he had rheumatoid arthritis.

On Lampton's third or fourth time through the walk, Butler asked him for a new uniform because he had used the bathroom on himself. Butler informed Lampton that he couldn't stand up and that he had defecated on himself because he couldn't get to the toilet. With the help of Deputy Jailer Stephen O'Reilly, Lampton picked Butler up and helped him into the restraint chair, which was used to transport Butler to the shower. Lampton testified that the officers helped Butler remove his clothes and then sat him in a plastic chair in the shower to wash off. Lampton stayed with him because he was concerned he might fall out of the chair. While in the shower area, Butler requested to use the restroom. Lampton and another deputy helped him to the toilet. Officers then helped Butler get dressed and transported him back to his cell. Lampton testified that he never observed a nurse visit Butler in the shower area or at any time while Butler was on the 100 walk. Similarly, Deputy Jailer Stephen O'Reilly does not remember a nurse being there while they were helping Butler in the shower area.

Within 10 to 20 minutes after returning Butler to his cell, Lampton went to the medical office and informed the nurse on duty what had happened, including that Butler had defecated on himself. Lampton testified that the nurse indicated that she was aware of the situation. Lampton does not recall who was working in the medical office, but it is undisputed that the only nurse at HCDC that morning was Defendant, Renee Keller, LPN.

About an hour or so later, Butler defecated on himself again. Lampton believed that Butler had diarrhea. Lampton testified that he asked if Butler wanted another shower, and Butler said no. Lampton provided Butler with another uniform and then Lampton went to the medical office again. Lampton testified that he chose to return to the medical office to tell them his opinion on how to make the situation a little better for Butler. "[I]t was obvious he couldn't get off the floor.... So I told them... [t]he 500 walk cell has got a bunk. They're at least 18 inches or 20 inches off the ground and they're about level with the toilet, you know, so I figured it would be easier for him to be able to rotate himself over or get to a standing position from a sitting up position...." (Brandon Lampton Dep. at 44-45.) Lampton testified that the nurse was aware that Butler had defecated on himself twice. Medical approved the move, and Lampton and another officer moved Butler to the 500 walk. Lampton had no other contact with Butler.

Defendant LPN Renee Keller, the nurse on duty on April 11, testified that she was informed by Lampton that Butler had used the restroom on himself because he had problems getting up and down off the floor to get to the toilet. Keller testified that she observed Butler in the shower room where he informed her that he did not need anything and that he was just hurting in his arm and ankle from rheumatoid arthritis. According to Keller, he did not appear to be in distress. Keller testified that she helped him put his shirt on at which time he did not appear to be running a fever. Keller did not take his vital signs, including his rate of respiration, temperature, or heart rate. Additionally, Keller indicated she wasn't aware of SHP policy on the whether to take vitals of an inmate in such a situation. She further testified that she approved Butler's move from detox to medical isolation where he would have available a bed.

After Butler was removed to the 500 walk, Defendant Deputy Jailer Jessica Bennett made rounds in the 500 walk until 12:11 p.m., according to the observation logs. Bennett did not enter any of the cells on her rounds and cannot recall having any conversation with Butler. Bennett testified that she did recall Butler being transported to the 500 walk in a restraint chair.

Similarly, Defendant Deputy Jailer Diana Potocnick saw Butler when he arrived in the 500 walk. Potocnick testified that she believed that Defendant Deputy Jailer Eric Poe transported him to the 500 walk. Potocnick stated that she asked Poe what the situation was and Poe informed her that Butler was unable to get up off the floor in detox so they moved him to segregation so it would be easier for him. Poe informed her that Butler had defecated on himself. The observation log indicates that Potocnick checked Butler after his move to the 500 walk five times. She testified that she never opened Butler's cell or communicated with him.

The observation log indicates that Defendant Deputy Jailer Eric Poe checked Butler once at 12:22 p.m. Poe testified that he accompanied other deputies throughout the day to do checks. Contrary to Potocnick's statement, Poe doesn't recall being one of the deputy jailers who took Butler to his cell. Poe testified that during a security check an hour before Butler was found unresponsive, Butler asked Poe for a glass of water. Poe did not enter Butler's cell; instead he told Butler no, that he had water in the cell, and walked away.

Defendant Deputy Jailer Teresa Kreitler's initials appear in the observation log on 11 occasions prior to Butler's death. Kreitler testified that within an hour of Butler being found nonresponsive he had asked her for water. Kreitler stated that she could not hear what he was saying so she opened the door. She testified that she told him to get the water out of the faucet, but Butler informed her he couldn't get up because of his rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Kreitler stated that she told Butler she would check on getting him a cup of water.

D. Butler's Death

On another round check, Kreitler passed Butler's cell and noticed Butler was lying awkward on his bed. She entered the cell, shook him, he made no response. She checked for a pulse, but felt none. When she touched him, he was cold. LPN Keller was notified at 4:19 p.m. by the staff that Butler had been found non-responsive in his cell. Keller testified that when she arrived at his cell, Butler was bluish and gray in color, he had no pulse, and was cold. No attempt to revive him was made. The coroner arrived at 4:40 p.m. and pronounced Butler dead.

An autopsy was performed at the Western Kentucky Regional Medical Examiner's Office on April 12, 2010, by Dr. Deirdre Schuluckebier. Her final diagnoses provided that the "[d]eath in this 25-year-old man, Tyler Butler, is attributed to findings consistent with sepsis. Obesity with hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and coronary atherosclerosis are considered significant coexisting conditions." (Schuluckebier Report at 1, DN 77-19.)


As an initial matter, the SHP Defendants move for summary judgment in favor of Defendant, Henry Davis, M.D., noting that the parties have stipulated to Dr. Davis' dismissal on August 30, 2013, but no final order was entered. The record reflects that Dr. Davis was dismissed by Order of the Court on September 4, 2013. [DN 78]. Additionally, in response to the motions for summary judgment by both the SHP Defendants and the County Defendants, Plaintiff states that she has no objection to the dismissal of her claims against Defendants Betty Dawes, Joe Blue, and Angela Peterson. Likewise, Plaintiff states that she has no objection to the dismissal of her claims brought pursuant to the Tenth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.

Plaintiff's federal claims for damages arise under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 which states in part that

[e]very person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State..., subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States... to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution ...

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