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Salyers v. Laurel County Detention Center

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London

April 21, 2014

MICHAEL SALYERS, et ux., Plaintiffs,


DANNY C. REEVES, District Judge.

This matter is pending for consideration of the Motion to Dismiss/Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Defendants Laurel County Detention Center; Laurel County, Kentucky; Laurel County Fiscal Court; Jamie Mosley; David Westerfield; Roy Crawford; Danny Smith; Teddy Benge; Jeff Book; Billy Oakley; and Noah Baker (collectively, the "Laurel County Defendants"). [Record No. 32][1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the relief sought, and dismiss the plaintiffs' claims against these defendants.


This matter arises out of Plaintiff Michael Salyers' ("Salyers") confinement at the Laurel County Detention Center. Salyers entered a guilty plea to conspiring to buy votes on February 8, 2012. [ See United States v. Michael Salyers, et al., U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Ky., Central Div. at Lexington, Case No. 5: 11-143-KKC; Record No. 56.] Following his plea, Salyers was sentenced by United States District Judge Karen Caldwell to sixty days' incarceration, followed by a one-year term of supervised release. [ Id., at Record No. 93]

Salyers alleges that, on the first day he was confined, he was medically evaluated and his vital signs were normal.[2] His blood pressure was 138/74 and his heart rate was 80 bpm. [Record No. 27, ¶ 24] However, he alleges that on the following day, "corrections officers" found him clutching his chest, complaining of pain, nausea, and shortness of breath, and that he had vomited. [ Id., ¶ 25] Salyers was brought to another floor in the facility for medical monitoring. At that time, his blood pressure had increased to 207/124 and his heart rate had increased to 120 bpm. [ Id., ¶ 26] At some point while he was being evaluated by a nurse or a doctor, Salyers told medical personnel that "he had been taking Xanax on the street." [ Id., ¶ 27] The plaintiffs assert that Salyers was mis-diagnosed by a nurse, guard, and other unknown defendants. Medical records indicate that he was placed on medical watch per detoxification procedures based on the belief that Salyers was suffering from withdrawal symptoms. [ Id. ] Later tests indicated that Salyers had actually suffered a heart attack.

Salyers and his wife, Cathy Salyers, filed this action on June 3, 2013, asserting claims against the following parties: (i) United States Bureau of Prisons; (ii) Charles E. Samuels, Jr.; (iii) the Laurel County Detention Center[3]; (iv) Laurel County, Kentucky; (v) the Laurel County Fiscal Court; (vi) Jamie Mosley; (vii) David Westerfield; (viii) County Magistrates Roy Crawford, Danny Smith; Teddy Benge; Jeff Book; Billy Oakley; and Noah Baker[4]; (ix) Southern Health Partners, Inc.; and (x) John and Jane Does 1-10. Against the BOP and Samuels, the plaintiffs alleged that the BOP and Samuels were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs. They alleged Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Laurel County Defendants, and medical negligence claims against Southern Health Partners, Inc. Mrs. Salyers also has asserted a claim for loss of consortium.[5]

After the plaintiffs amended their original complaint, the Court granted Defendants Samuels' and the United States Bureau of Prisons' ("BOP") renewed motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs' claims against the BOP and the official capacity claims against Samuels were barred by sovereign immunity. Additionally, the Court concluded that the claims against Samuels in his individual capacity were deficient because the plaintiffs did not assert that Samuels expressly authorized, approved, or knowingly acquiesced in any improper conduct. [Record No. 31] Thereafter, the Laurel County Defendants again moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims against them under Rule 12(c) and Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.


The analysis is essentially the same for motions brought under Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule 12(c). On a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the Court may look only to the pleadings themselves and exhibits incorporated by reference into the complaint. Weiner v. Klais & Co., 108 F.3d 86, 88 (6th Cir. 1997). In other words, the Court is limited to the facts alleged in the pleadings. When evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must determine whether the complaint alleges "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"[6] Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). The standard requires "more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. Thus, although the complaint need not contain "detailed factual allegations" to survive a motion to dismiss, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and alteration omitted).


A. Deliberate Indifference

The Supreme Court has held that "to state a cognizable claim [under the Eighth Amendment with regard to medical care] a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's serious medical needs." Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976). Therefore, a prisoner must show both "deliberate indifference" and "serious medical needs." Id. The Eighth Amendment contains both an objective and a subjective component. Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991). The objective component requires the existence of a "sufficiently serious medical need." Blackmore v. Kalamazoo Cnty., 390 F.3d 890, 895 (6th Cir. 2004). For the purpose of this motion, the defendants do not dispute that Salyers had a serious medical need.[7] [Record No. 39, p. 5] Thus, the determinative issue becomes whether the plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged the subjective component of deliberate indifference.

i. Individual Laurel County Defendants[8]

"Deliberate indifference" means that prison medical staff knew of the inmate's serious medical needs, but intentionally disregarded an excessive risk of harm to the inmate, or that prison guards or medical staff intentionally prevented the inmate from receiving prescribed treatment or intentionally delayed or denied him access to medical care. Estelle, 429 U.S. at 104-105; Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994). To succeed on a deliberate indifference claim, a plaintiff must show that the official is aware of facts from which he could have inferred that an excessive risk to the health of an inmate existed; the official actually drew the inference that the detainee was at an excessive risk of harm; and, having so inferred, the official failed to take adequate precautions to prevent the harm from befalling the inmate. Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994); see also Clark-Murphy v. Foreback, 439 F.3d 280, 286 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Farmer, 511 U.S. at 837). Deliberate indifference may be ...

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